Friday, October 08, 2010

Meltdown in Philly: Reds’ Gold Gloves and Golden Arms Turn to Dross

By Nicholas Stix

How could something so right, go so horribly wrong?

As a lifelong Mets fan, I am used to teams that find ways to lose. Especially in recent years.

The “Fightin’ Phils” are not such a team.

After getting no-hit by the Phillies’ “ace of aces” Roy Halladay on Wednesday, the Reds were looking to punch the Phils in the face early, to paraphrase Cincinnati skipper Dusty Baker. And so they did, starting the scoring with a leadoff home run on the second pitch of the game by second baseman Brandon Phillips off of Roy Oswalt, whom Philadelphia had acquired at the trade deadline, and who had recovered his old form down the stretch, with his new team.

But not tonight. The Reds knocked Oswalt out of the game after five innings, leading 4-0. Oswalt’s fastball had excellent velocity, movement, and location, but he had no control of his curve ball or slider, and his change-up went in straight as an arrow and, courtesy of Brandon Phillips, left Philadelphia’s corporate-named ballpark the same way.

But then the Reds suffered a spectacular meltdown. The team that had tied the San Diego Padres for fewest errors in the National League (72) made four, which accounted for five unearned runs, including two by Phillips, who has one gold glove, and one by third baseman Scott Rolen, who has seven, and is the finest National Leaguer of his generation at playing the hot corner.

Meanwhile, the Reds’ heralded bullpen also choked, hitting three batters, and in one sequence manufactured a run for Philadelphia when 19-year veteran Arthur Rhodes, 16 days short of his 41st birthday, hit one man and walked the next, and 25-year-old rookie Logan Ondrusek walked the third and hit the fourth.

The Phillies never quit, scoring seven unanswered runs, and prevailed 7-4, for a 2-0 series lead.

The many miscues wasted an excellent effort by Reds’ starter Bronson Arroyo.

Stick a fork in it, this series is done.

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