Pirates Send Phillies Packing
The old adage good pitching beats good hitting played out in Pittsburgh's first round victory over Philadelphia. Pirate pitchers held the heart of Philadelphias lineup to a .192 average in beating the Phillies 4 games to 2. Once more, Philadelphia exited in the first round of the playoffs.
With the Pirates leading the series 2 - 0, the series switched to Pittsburgh. Philadelphia looked as if it might make a run, as they took games 3 and 5. However, Pittsburgh showed its tenacity in holding off the Phillies in game 6, winning 11-10 in 14 innings.
Game 3 - Philadelphia 5 Pittsburgh 2. Phils chip away at Zito, and Aaron Rowand has 4 hits. Two unearned runs in the top of the 9th add some comfort to a very close game.
Game 4 - Pittsburgh 11 Philadelphia 1. Pirates blow it wide open with 5 runs in the 8th against overmatched Dave Burba. Ben Broussard has 2 homeruns and 7 RBIs in a one man show.
Game 5 - Philadelphia 6 Pittsburgh 2. In an amazingly sloppy game, in which only 2 of the 9 runs were earned, Philadelphia staved off elimination. Kirk Reuter was the winner, going 5 innings.
Game 6 - Pittsburgh 11 Philadelphia 10 (14). Pittsburgh fought off a resilient Philadelphia team with 4 runs in the top of the 14th. Several times in the game, it appeared the Pirates had the Phils on the rope, and each time the Phillies battled back. Pittsburgh got to Brad Penny with 3 runs in the top of the 4th. However, Philly countered with 4 in the bottom. The score stayed knotted until the 9th when Pittsburgh battered the season long stalwart of the Philadelphia bullpen Jason Frasor, scoring the tieing run. Both teams went down fairly quietly until the top of the 11th when Pittsburgh scored 3 runs. Amazingly enough, Jim Thome hit a 3 run shot in the bottom of the 11th, tieing it once again. Neither team scored again until the wild 14th. Pittsburgh scored 4 in the top of the 14th, to take a seemingly secure lead. However, as the Pirate bullpen tired, the Phillies started back again. They scored 3 runs, and with two on, no outs, once again the game was in the hands of the toughest part of the Phils order - Pujols and Thome. However, in an eerie repeat of game 2, Pujols struck out. Thome struck out. Clutch hitting Sol Taguchi, one of the few bright spots in the playoffs ended the game, and Phillies hopes for a game 7. At least he didn't strike out.
Philly Phans Phume!
Philly fans took to the streets, incensed their team once again, exited the playoffs in the first round after a successful season. Said one fan - "It is a given the Phillies will be in the playoffs - but this is ANOTHER [expletive] choke. What do we we pay these guys for?" Another put the blame soley on the shoulders of manager Rick Cornell. "Fassero? @#$%ing Fassero? My son's Little League coach could have done just as good of a job as Cornell!" When pressed for comments Phillies manager Cornell stated - "All I can do is put guys on the field that I believe give us the best chance of winning. I can't hit the ball, throw the ball or catch the ball for them. It was a tough loss.
Pittsburgh showed a weakness against lefties. Hindsight is 20/20." Pitcher Jeff Fassero, the easy target of blame for yet another Philly failure simply said "I gave it my best. Obviously it wasn't enough. I don't know..." his voice trailing off as he headed for the showers..
The 2004 Phillies boasted one of their strongest lineups this year, but it was that very heart of the lineup that failed them. Eric Chavez, Mark Loretta, Torii Hunter, Miguel Tejada and superstar Albert Pujols were held to a measely .192 average in the six game set (24-125). Pujols a subject of an earlier article publicizing his drive for a pennant was woeful - hitting .208 with just one double. Hunter (.120) and Tejada (.154) were deplorable. Staff ace Brad Penny could not go more than 4 innings without giving up a slew of runs.
As fans nearly rioted, Philly ownership is left looking confused and incompetent. Only Aaron Rowand could hold his head up high, as he played flawless defense and hit .400 in the series. (10-25). However as one can expect, Rowand stated "Yeah, I guess that's nice, but I would gladly give up everyone of those hits if we could have just won the series."