Phillies focused on fixing clutch hitting issues
Club looking forward, not dwelling on numbers in first three games
SAN FRANCISCO -- It's quite simple, actually. If the Phillies are going to find a way to scratch back and win three of these final four games in the National League Championship Series, they are going to have to hit.
It sounds like an easy enough concept. But to this point, it has been anything but.
A Philadelphia offense that finished the regular season ranked among the NL's top five in runs scored (4.8 per game), batting average (.260), home runs (166) and on-base percentage (.332) has gone stunningly silent in most of its critical at-bats this series.
The lineup has gone 2-for-27 with runners in scoring position in its last 27 postseason innings. That included an 0-for-5 afternoon in Game 3, three days after going hitless in four such at-bats in Game 1.
"We just need to be aggressive," said Shane Victorino, who grounded out his only time up with a runner in scoring position on Tuesday. "I don't know what we're doing, why we're not hitting. If I could put my finger on it, I would have answered it a long time ago. We're not going to worry about we haven't done. We're going to worry about what we're going to do."
The Phillies can try their hardest not to dwell on the recent offensive struggles, but it's become an issue that has the team two losses away from postseason elimination. After wasting a sufficient start from ace Roy Halladay in Game 1, Philadelphia couldn't back Cole Hamels in his Game 3 quality start.
Philadelphia finished the game with three hits -- all singles -- and never advanced a runner past second. Tuesday also marked the first time in the club's last 50 postseason games that the Phillies didn't push across at least one run.
|10/4/1950||WS 1||NYY||1-0 L||2|
|10/19/2010||NLCS 3||S.F.||3-0 L||3|
|10/6/2007||NLDS 3||Col.||2-1 L||3|
|10/12/1983||WS 2||Bal.||4-1 L||3|
|10/11/1915||WS 3||Bos.||2-1 L||3|
|10/9/1915||WS 2||Bos.||2-1 L||3|
|10/16/2009||NLCS 2||L.A.||2-1 L||4|
|10/1/2008||NLDS 1||Mil.||3-1 W||4|
|10/3/2007||NLDS 1||Col.||4-2 L||4|
|10/5/1978||NLCS 2||L.A.||4-0 L||4|
|10/6/2010||NLDS 1||Cin.||4-0 W||5|
|10/19/2009||NLCS 4||L.A.||5-4 W||5|
|10/21/1993||WS 5||Tor.||2-0 W||5|
|10/16/1983||WS 5||Bal.||5-0 L||5|
|10/11/1983||WS 1||Bal.||2-1 W||5|
|10/4/1983||NLCS 1||L.A.||1-0 W||5|
|10/8/1915||WS 1||Bos.||3-1 W||5|
"Look, when you don't score no runs, you don't get no hits, it's hard to win the game," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "But I don't know what we're going to do about it. I can sit here and talk about it. I can go in and talk to them about it, but when the game starts tomorrow is when we can do something about it."
Especially surprising about Matt Cain's dominance was that he hadn't had anywhere near such success against Philadelphia before. The Giants righty entered Tuesday's start winless with a 6.23 ERA in five previous outings against the Phillies.
Particularly a nuisance to him had been Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley, who came in a combined 13-for-25 against the right-hander. And yet in six at-bats on Tuesday -- three of which came with a runner in scoring position -- the pair finished 0-for-6.
"It was more of [Cain]," Rollins said. "You have to tip your hat to him. He never gave in. He made pitches when he needed to. When a guy is pitching like that, you can be swinging the bat as good as anybody and he is going to shut you down."
"You try to think positive," added Utley. "Obviously, we have a pretty good team, so we're not going to back down. We're not going to feel sorry for ourselves. We're going to continue to fight."
While there is no question the Phillies have the offensive firepower to break out of this collective slump at any moment, they have the added task of having no choice but to do it in a ballpark that has been the team's recent nemesis.
Over the past three seasons, Philadelphia has batted .199 and averaged only 3.2 runs per game at AT&T Park. In no other place have the Phillies done less offensively during that span. Now they'll have to buck that trend against a Giants starting staff that hasn't allowed an earned run at home in 22 2/3 postseason innings.
"Let's not sit here and analyze everything," Victorino said. "There's not enough time to analyze situations. Let's go out there and worry about tomorrow and not sit and reflect on what we haven't done. We have to go out there tomorrow and worry about tomorrow's game. What we've done in the past has nothing to do with how tomorrow's outcome will be."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.