Originally published on October 24, 2008
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Calmness pervaded the Phillies' clubhouse last night at Tropicana Field.
That calmness served them well this season when they went through bad stretches, stretches when they kicked the ball around, fell asleep on the bases, made poor pitches or couldn't pick up a clutch hit to save their lives. They hope that calmness helps them rebound from a 4-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 2 of the World Series, which evened the best-of-seven series.
"Why?" said Brett Myers, who allowed four runs in seven innings to take the loss. "We took one here. That's a big deal for us, and we're going home where we play well. We're not down by any means. We actually feel really good going back to our place."
But unlike the struggles during the course of a 162-game season, the Phillies need to find solutions fast.
The Phillies were 0 for 13 with runners in scoring position in Game 1 Wednesday, which set a single-game World Series record for futility. They were hitless in their first six at-bats with runners in scoring position in Game 2 to make them 0 for 19.
The Elias Sports Bureau reported that it was the second-longest hitless streak with runners in scoring position in World Series history. The Los Angeles Dodgers went 0 for 22 in the entire 1966 World Series against the Baltimore Orioles. It's no surprise the Orioles swept the Dodgers.
Shane Victorino's infield single in the fourth snapped that streak, but the Phillies finished 1 for 15 with runners in scoring position in Game 2. They are 1 for 28 (.036) with runners in scoring position in the series.
"I'm concerned about us hitting with guys on base because it looks like at times we might be trying a little too hard," manager Charlie Manuel said. "But we can fix that."
Jimmy Rollins said he felt a little tense in one of his at-bats. And that layoff? Players refuse to use the six-day layoff between the National League Championship Series and World Series as an excuse, although Greg Dobbs acknowledged his biggest obstacle last night was trying to get comfortable in the batter's box.
Hitting sunk the Phillies in Game 2, but they looked sloppy, too. Jayson Werth's error in right field in the first inning led to an unearned run as the Rays took a 2-0 lead. Werth was doubled up at first base in the fifth when Chase Utley flied out to right field. Carlos Ruiz had a throwing error in the bottom of the fifth.
"That might be one of our sloppiest games all year," Manuel said.
The Rays didn't beat up Myers. They just took advantage of their opportunities.
So the Phillies packed their bags knowing they wasted an opportunity, but looked forward to returning home and leaving the cowbells behind.
Well, maybe all except for one.
"My mom rings it all the time," said Rollins, whose mother, Gigi, has been ringing a cowbell at her son's games since high school. "I'm used to the cowbell."
The Phillies hope to ring the Liberty Bell a few times this weekend, although at this point they'd just settle for a clutch hit or two.