The Phillies identity for the last five years has been their offense. However, since the middle of May this year, the offense has been a huge issue. Though they scored runs over course the season, they also went through long slumps of very poor offensive production, and at times they struggled just to get base hits.
In spite of these problems, the Phillies managed to turn their season around, and win the N.L. East. But ultimately their offensive shortcomings caught up with them.
In the first inning of Game 6, it looked like the Phillies were on their way to their best offensive performance of the post-season. They got to Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez for two runs early, and delivered patient at-bats in the first inning. They started the third inning by getting runners on first and second with no outs. However, after Jonathan Sanchez was removed from the game, the Phillies offense shut down.
In what was ultimately their elimination game, the Phillies hit just 2 for 11 with runners in scoring position. The Phillies had plenty of opportunities to break the game wide open, but the big hit never came. And this time, there wasn’t a critical error by the Giants to bail them out.
Incredibly, Ryan Howard failed to drive in a single run in the entire post season. Chase Utley drove in a run in Game 6, but he was also invisible for most of the post season. Raul Ibanez wasn’t much of a factor either; he did not get a hit until Game 5. Jayson Werth was the only middle-of-the-lineup player that had a decent post-season, but he’s set to sell his soul to the highest bidder in the offseason.
This year the Phillies learned that having the best team on paper doesn’t guarantee you a spot in the World Series. The Phillies had an attitude all season long, even when struggling, that they would be able to turn their offensive problems around when they needed to. While they did save their regular season, they didn’t live up to those standards in the playoffs. Hopefully they’ve learned that they can’t just flip the switch on and expect everything to work just fine. And hopefully next season they will come back hungry, and determined to prove that this season’s problems were an aberration.