By Chris Murray
For the Sunday and the Chris Murray Report
PHILADELPHIA—There will be two types of emotions that fans in this city will exhibit after Game 5 of the National League Division Series- a sense of relief that goes with making it into the next round of the postseason or another year of monumental disappointment where Phils hopes for a World Series title will be a dream deferred.
The good news for Phillies fans is that their ace, 2010 Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay on the mound for the Phillies against a scrappy St. Louis Cardinals team that forced Friday’s Game 5 at Citizen’s Bank Park with a 5-3 win in Game 4 on Wednesday. Halladay beat the Cardinals in Game 1 despite allowing three runs in the first inning.
In that game, Halladay allowed just three hits and retired the last 21 batters he faced in an 11-6 victory. Though his start was shaky in his last outing, Halladay said he’s not going to change anything, but go out and stick to his normal game of making good pitches.
“You can’t go out and try to guard against something,” Halladay said. “You know, you have to go out and be aggressive. I’m not going to try and do anything more early in the game than I would do later.”
The Phillies will be going up against Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter, who will be facing the Phillies on four days rest. In their game 2 loss, the Phillies got to Carpenter early, jumping out to a 4-0 in the first two innings only to have the Cardinals bullpen shut them down the rest of the way.
Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS is an ideal scenario for both teams with their aces on the mound. Both Carpenter and Halladay were teammates in Toronto and are good friends to this day.
“It’s going to be competitive. Once you get to this point, you’re going out trying to help your team win,” Halladay said. “We have talked back and forth throughout the series, but I think we both — we get to this point, and it’s down to business. The friendships kind of go by the wayside, I think, after this point.”
Carpenter, who is looking to pitch better than he did in Game 2, said he has enough postseason experience to manage his emotions.
“Yeah, I mean, it’s obviously a huge game, but you control your emotions, you can control distractions,” he said.
With the exception of their Game 1 victory, the Phillies have not hit the ball consistently, especially from four to eight in the Phillies batting order. Ryan Howard is batting .133 (2-for-15), Raul Ibanez is 3-for-12, Placido Polanco .125 (2-for-16) and Carlos Ruiz (1-for-14). John Mayberry, who played left field in Game 3 was 0-for-4.
Patience hasn’t been a virtue for the Phillies, who seem to have a penchant for not working the count and swinging at too many first pitches. Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said he expects his hitters to be more relaxed in Game 5.
“They definitely work on throwing strike one if you look at it and they kind of –from there, then they stretch the strike zone on us, ” Manuel said. “I think, at times, and especially (in Game 4) once we got behind, we got a little anxious, and that’s kind of natural. We started chasing some balls out of the strike zone.
“I think what we’ve got to just be ourselves and play like we can and I think the results will be there.”
Of course, Manuel’s big concern has to be with Howard, who has driven in six runs in the, but hasn’t had a hit since Game 2.
“Yeah, well, the last couple days he’s having trouble tracking the ball, staying on the ball. When he does that, usually he struggles,” Manuel said. “He got to stay on the ball, let the ball get a little deeper on him and stay in the middle of the field, just try to make good contact. That’s how comes out of it.”
Phillies right fielder Hunter Pence said he and his teammates aren’t going to do anything dramatic with their approach at the plate, but follow their instincts.
“I think if you go up there trying to do something, you’re going to end up working against yourself,” Pence said. “You have to let the game play out. There’s going to different situations, different circumstances. You can’t predict what’s going to happen in this game. You have to allow your instincts to take over, just your process, your approach and let it be at that.”