Warning: If you're having a cheerful Friday, don't participate in this thread. A team that won two fewer games than the Phillies is on the brink of championship glory. Time to tally up the critical losses of 2006 and stew over our team's blown chances.
For me, the season officially ended when this typically mild-tempered fan slammed his fist into first base concourse railing at Citizens Bank Park. It happened Sept. 25, the night after several members of the press said a trip to the postseason was not only possible, but probable. The Phils had taken a half-game lead in the Wild Card the day before, with a chance to stretch it to a full game over the idle Dodgers.
Like we always do, the Phillies bloggerati bought the cheapest sets in the house and perched along the concourse railing like gargoyles, using the money saved for beer and peanuts.
The Astros entered the game with one of the league’s worst offenses, and were in a tough spot pitching-wise following an arm injury to Andy Pettitte. Forced to make a last-minute change, they handed the ball to reliever Chris Sampson. Rookie Matt Albers was originally penciled for the start. The Phils countered with Randy Wolf, who had not lost a decision dating back to last season. The bloggerati was feeling quite sure of our chances.
Following an emotional, high-scoring pummeling against the Marlins on Fan Appreciation Day, neither team could get anything started through four innings. Wolf challenged the Astros with a knee-locking fastball. The Phillies made impatient attempts against Sampson. Finally, the Astros broke through on a Morgan Ensberg sac fly in the fifth, but the Phillies rallied in the bottom half, scoring two on Ryan Howard’s RBI single. The house came alive.
In the sixth, Jason Lane and his .206 batting average answered with a solo blast to make it 2-2, as Wolf fell into his pattern of trying to be too fine. But once again, the Phillies countered in the bottom half, this time with a handsome home run to right by Jimmy Rollins, taking the lead 4-2.
In the seventh, the Phillies lost the season, and the concourse railing lost the battle with my fist.
Dishonorable mention: Here’s a series that resonates more than Washington: the weekend double-double split against a wounded Braves team on Sept. 2 and 3. This was the point the bullpen officially caved in.
In Saturday night’s Game 1, Arthur Rhodes, called on specifically to face Adam LaRoche, surrendered a two-run bomb into the right field seats. It was his second blown save in as many tries, giving up 16 runs in his last 19 1-3 innings at home. The failure lead to my most impassioned, well-reasoned comment of the season, arguing why Rhodes should have never been used:
posted by: J. Weitzel
"Rhodes sucks. End of debate."
In Sunday’s Game 2, the Phillies stranded 14 runners over 11 innings. This time, it was Geoff Geary’s turn to cough it up, taking the 3-1 loss. If it wasn’t Geary, it would have been some other victim. At this point, the bullpen was officially on fumes, and Pat Burrell had become the official all-purpose goat.