The Phillies find themselves down 3-2 in the World Series after taking a 2-1 lead. Game five went the way of the Astros, who were able to hang onto a 3-2 victory. After Houston took an early lead, Kyle Schwarber responded with a solo home run in the bottom of the first. After the Schwarber home run, the Phillies were looking for a spark all night and couldn’t find it. This was the first game all postseason I was genuinely frustrated with the Phillies offense. Yes, Houston has a fantastic pitching staff, but there were a few instances where the offense needed to capitalize and couldn’t. Not only could the offense not get going the defense also had a few plays that put Houston in positions to succeed.
Jose Altuve led off the game with a double and got to third base on an error by Marsh. Altuve smoked a ball into right center. It should have been a stand up double, but Marsch got the play all wrong. First, he overcommitted trying to make the catch, allowing the ball to roll past him. Then he failed to pick it up in a timely fashion which allowed Altuve to advance to third. You must be sharper in the field, especially in the first inning. The Astros capitalized and took an early lead. That run might not score if Altuve is only on second.
The second big fielding mistake came in the eighth inning. After the first two batters got on base, a tricky ground ball was hit to first. Hoskins charged the ball and was unble to secure it on the first try. This allowed Altuve to score. Although it was not ruled an error, and I don’t think it should have been, it still allowed a run to score. Hoskins can look the runner back if the ball is field cleanly and then apply the tag. Instead, he only got the out at first, but that is a play that has to be made in that situation. There are no excuses. And no, this is not the only reason the Phillies lost the game, but it 100% contributed to the loss.
Both of these plays summarize this loss for the Phillies. By no means were they egregious fielding errors or even close to the most significant mistakes the team has made this postseason. However, they were two plays that allowed the Astros to score runs. The defense needs to execute better and take care of the plays that need to be made. If both balls are fielded cleanly, the first and eighth innings may have turned out differently. The defense will need to play mistake free ball if they want a shot for the rest of this series.
Runners in Scoring Position
Before we get too deep into complaining about the Phillies leaving runners on base we have to mention the Astros pitching staff. It is well known they have a dominant staff and bullpen. The Phillies were able to get runners on base, often with two outs, but still, they had runners in position to score.
With how tight the game was Philadelphia only needed one or two big hits to take hold of game five. Instead, Philly’s offense went 1 for 7 with RISP. Rhys Hoskins struck out with the bases loaded in the second inning, which was a backbreaker. Verlander was there for the taking and the offense wasn’t able to make him pay.
Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos also had some big at-bats with RISP. Although they both put up more competitive at bats than Hoskins the result was the same.
The Phillies simply failed to execute with runners in scoring position. Instead of sitting back and battling out at bats the hitters constantly went after high fastballs and curveballs or sliders off the plate. It felt like each guy wanted to come up and have the big moment instead of putting the ball in play and trying to make something happen. They struck out 12 times last night which is another reason you fail to get runs in. If the offense was able to execute in the big moments this easily could have been a 3-2 series lead for Philadelphia.
Photo Credit: Charles Fox/Philadelphia Inquirer