Posted by Kevin Durso
The Phillies and Cardinals will now play a decisive Game 5 on Friday. (Courtesy of SI.com)
The Phillies are usually so reliable when having a simple task at hand. Winning in the Postseason is not simple, but when the opportunity presents itself, the Phillies rarely give in to the pressure, and run away from the competition to the next round. Tonight, a hot start was thwarted by the Cardinals, forcing the must gut-wrenching of all games Friday night.
The Phillies jumped out on a hot start. Jimmy Rollins led off with a double. Chase Utley tripled him home. Hunter Pence singled him home. And five pitches into the game, this looked like a runaway.
Not long ago, the Phillies scored three first-inning runs off Chris Carpenter to pull ahead in Game 2. Slowly but surely, that lead disappeared.
The Phillies were out of the first inning it appeared, but a missed play and error by Shane Victorino turned Lance Berkman's routine fly ball into a double and scored a run.
In the fourth, with a threat on, David Freese doubled home a pair to give the Cardinals the lead.
In the sixth, with the Phillies getting closer to forcing the Cardinals' bullpen to hold down a one-run lead, Freese added fireworks to the mix, belting a two-run shot.
The Phillies got one of those runs back on a wild pitch, but everything went the Cardinals' way otherwise.
After those first three hits in the first, the Phillies managed just four the rest of the way, and the Cardinals forced a decisive Game 5 on Friday in Philadelphia with a 5-3 win.
For one, my predicitions are scaring me. I call for a 3-2 Cardinals' win in Game 3, and the Phillies win by that score. I call for a 5-3 Phillies' win tonight, and the roles are reversed. In Games 2 and 4, the Cardinals have found a way to make the Phillies look silly, and frankly, scoring early, which is usually a good thing, might as well be a bad thing.
St. Louis got their chance to be here from the Phillies. Now they're making the Phillies pay for giving them a chance. There will be baseball on Friday night at Citizens Bank Park. The best team will truly come out on top. Forget the NLCS opponent. The winner of this game might as well punch their ticket to the World Series. You can guarantee it.
The Phillies' pitching was supposed to get them to the next level. Two pitchers have fired gems. Two have allowed five runs in their game. If Roy Halladay is anything less than his usual self, the Phillies' season might be over. Realistically, the fear here is not that the Phillies could lose. Anything is possible in the Postseason, especially to a team that featured several Postseason vets. What's scary is that the Phillies' season will be on the line on Friday, just five games into the Postseason. The team that was supposed to automatically play until late October could be gone before the first week of October is over. Honestly, that's baseball, but the Phillies will most definitely remember the chances that got away. They will remember how they relied too much on pitching, and when it failed, didn't back it up with hitting. All that's left now is to hold your breath, because two aces are going in Game 5, and whatever happens…happens.
Game 5 will be on Friday at 8:37. Roy Halladay takes the mound against Chris Carpenter for a trip to the NLCS.