By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report
PHILADELPHIA—Throughout the city this week, fans kept gushing over how there was no way the San Francisco Giants were going to touch the Phillies three-headed monster rotation of Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels.
There was little concern among Phils fans over the struggles of the Phillies offense, which batted an anemic .212 in the team’s three game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds during the National League Division Series.
The Phillies offense was going to wake up eventually, right? Not in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series.
On a night when Halladay struggled to keep the ball in the park, the Phillies offense could only flip the switch to lukewarm.
The Phillies 4-3 loss to the Giants in Game One of the NLCS in front of a sellout crowd of 44, 929 at Citizen’s Bank Park happened because Phillies bats have yet to show up in the postseason.
The middle of the Phillies lineup from three through seven was a combined 4-for-16. Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins struck out three times. Right fielder Raul Ibanez was 0-for-3 batting at the seventh spot. Overall, the Phillies struck out 13 times.
“I’m concerned with that,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “I think we need to hit better and we have to score more runs of course.”
Manuel’s biggest concern at the plate is Rollins, who is 1-for-15 in the postseason. He was 0-for-4 against the Giants in the Game One loss. But during his postgame interview with reporters, Rollins seemed unfazed by his own struggles.
“Confidence is unshakable,” Rollins said. “If you lose that, you don’t have a chance. Just execute. That’s the part that becomes difficult, but after the game I looked at some footage. I see what I’m doing, but now it’s just a matter of feeling it. When you feel it, you can make those corrections. I’m pretty close, but it got worse as the night went on.”
Manuel was frustrated with Rollins and said he would consider putting him back at the leadoff spot. Shane Victorino in the lead off spot Saturday night and was 0-for-5.
“I’ll think about a whole lot of things tonight,” Manuel said. “We need to put together more offense. Basically we got off to a good start to the season, but we’ve been sputtering ever since. But at the same time we’re capable of doing it.”
If you’re looking for a silver lining in the midst of the Phillies offensive struggles, Jayson Werth, who was batting .167 in the postseason coming into Saturday night’s game, was 2-for-3 including a two-run homerun in the bottom of the sixth inning to bring the Phillies to within one-run. Catcher Carlos Ruiz put the Phillies on the board in the third with an opposite field to right.
“We swung it a lot better in game one than we did in any game in the last series (against Cincinnati).” Rollins said. “That’s a positive. Each day is going to different. It’s a good sign to see balls jumping off the bat.”
On what was kind of an off-night for Tim Lincecum, who finished the game with eight strikeouts while allowing three runs on just six hits in seven innings, the Phillies had their chances to score more runs when they had runners in scoring position in the first and third innings. Both times the Phillies came up empty on both occasions.
Meanwhile, no one was expecting Cody Ross, the no. 8 hitter in the Giants lineup to be the second-coming of Reggie Jackson. This was a guy who was cut and thrown on the scrap heap by the Florida Marlins back in August.
Ross owned Halladay Saturday night and smacked two homeruns that got the Giants going against a pitcher who didn’t allow a hit or a run coming into the game. Halladay pitched seven innings and allowed four runs on eight hits and struck out eight.
“Cody’s a good hitter,” said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. “And Cody’s been swinging the bat well and certainly gave us a sense of confidence in that dugout, putting us on the board like that.”