Numbers can lie. A wise man once said: “Oh, people can come up with statistics to prove anything, Kent. 14% of people know that.” That man was Homer Simpson. Looking at the record of the Phillies versus the Cardinals this year, alone and by itself, is an instance of stats that can prove anything. While digging deeper into the story behind the record of the Cardinals winning 6 out of 9, I can prove Homer Simpson right:
First series: May 16 and May 17.
W: Westbrook, L: Lee
Notable story lines: “I felt like I threw a lot of strikes that were called balls, but whatever,” Lee said. “It is what it is. I’m the pitcher. He’s the umpire. It’s [home-plate umpire Gerry Davis'] job to call balls and strikes, and he felt like they were balls, I guess. It is what it is.” Basically-Lee got squeezed, but whatever…
Notable line up problems: Valdez at 3rd Base, Mayberry in Center Field, Fransisco in Right Field, and Pete Orr at 2nd. Not one of these players will be starting at those positions during the NLDS between these two teams.
May 17: Cardinals 2, Phillies 1 (11 Innings)
W: Salas, L: Baez
Notable story line: Roy Oswalt made his first start in nearly three weeks after returning from witnessing the effects of tornadoes in the town that he grew up in. The pregame press conference lead to many writers predicting Oswalt’s retirement from the sport after the season.
Notable line up problems: Martinez in Center Field, Fransisco in Right Field, Valdez- then Orr at 2nd Base, and DANE SARDINO at catcher. Once again, none of these players will be playing these positions-especially players who were so bad, they played their ways out of the organization. (See: Sardino, Baez)
Notable outlier in this game’s stats: The Phillies had a AAA line up out there, and the Cards only won by one run-in extra innings.
Second Series: June 21, 22, and 23rd:
W Stutes, L: Miller
Notable story lines: Phillies tied the game late when Polanco was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. The Cardinals bullpen, shaky the whole year, fell apart in this game.
Notable outlier in this game’s stats: Phillies scored 9 runs in the 8th inning, after the Cardinals starter, McClellan, gave up 1 ER through 7 innings.
Notable line up problems: None, really, as the line up seemed to follow the way it was set for most of the games prior to the ASG, meaning Fransisco factored into games for no good reason, as he came in for 2 AB after Dom Brown had 3 AB.
W: Lee, L: Lohse
Notable story lines: This was June, and Lee pitched. It was the first of two months where he would dominate at a level above everyday domination, which isn’t something you see everyday.
Notable line up problems: Both Brown and Fransisco started this game. Neither would do such in the playoffs (Brown didn’t even make the post season roster.)
Notable outliers in this games stats: It was a complete game, meaning no pinch hitters. Lohse gave up 3 ERs, but no grand slams to Kaz.
W: Carpenter, L: Oswalt
Notable story lines: Oswalt left early, giving up 4 ERs through two innings, leaving the bullpen to patch together a whole game.
Notable line up problems: Oswalt left the game with an injury-lots of pinch hitters.
Notable outliers in the games stats: None, besides the over use of the Phillies bullpen, including pitchers such as Kendrick, Perez, and Baez. Oh, and Cliff Lee was a pinch hitter in this game.
Third series: September 16, 17, 18, and 19th
W: McClellen, L: Schwimer
Notable Storyline: This was the game before they would clinch, and it went extras. This was the 20th game in 19 days, and the Phillies played a double header the day before. I doubt they will be that tired come the NLDS.
Notable line up problems: Mayberry was playing 1st. Decent athletes, could play anywhere on the field, but the Big Bopper plays 1st on an everyday. Howard has above average stats against his home town team, so anyone would want him in the lineup for important games.
Notable outlier for this game’s stats: It’s the number of games they were playing in such a short time frame. This can’t be understated, in my opinion.
W: Oswalt, L: Westbrook
Notable story line: FIVE NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST TITLES IN A ROW. While the Phillies were already leading late in the game, Raul Ibanez started the party a little earlier with a Grand Slam.
Notable lineup story: It was the Phillies line up that you’re going to see in Game 1 of the NLDS. See how good this team can be when they’re all playing?
Notable Outlier in this game’s stats: None, really. The Cardinals’ bullpen has been their weakest spot all season, which means even more match ups by LaRussa.
W: Carpenter, L: Hamels
Notable story line: We didn’t realize it yet, but the panic button was about to be hit. </sarcasm font> In a game that @FanSince09 will likely point to as proof that Hamels isn’t that good, the Phillies were hung over. Manuel started to rest some of the starters, giving Chooch and Howard the day off. Phillies managed to get as many hits as the Cards, but couldn’t push anyone across the plate.
Notable line up story: Gload played first base, the only position he could possibly play because he can’t run or move his legs well. Schneider got a chance to catch Hamels, which won’t happen most likely in the NLDS.
Noteable outlier in this game’s stats: The Phillies just played 21 games in 20 days, and now had a game that didn’t really matter to them. The pressure to clinch the division was gone, most of these guys partied the night before in the clubhouse, and then they went out and faced a team that was desperate to get wins in hopes to make the post season. I don’t know the stats for “wanted it more”, but the Cards definitely had more WIM’s on this night.
W: Loshe, L: Halladay
Notable story line: All of a sudden, the Cardinals are only 2.5 games out of the Wild Card race, but the Phillies still had a chance to win it in the 9th, and the Cardinals bullpen looked to, once again, cough up a lead.
Noteable line up story: Once again, no Howard, as Gload got a second straight start. And when the Phillies needed a pinch hitter? Brandon Moss.
Noteable outlier in this game’s stats: Halladay walked 4 batters and gave up 6 hits. Not really an outlier, because his starts before this, he wasn’t as sharp. I’m not expecting another no hitter from him in the NLDS, but I’m also not expecting this. He’s probably already did the whole Rocky scene 5 times yesterday for a warm up to his actual exercises. And for the rest of the Phillies, Pence even said on the Jim Rome show that the focus and intensity wasn’t there for a few of the players during that 8 game losing streak. I have a feeling that won’t happen for the Phillies once the post season starts.
I know, it’s baseball, and anything can happen. These are just stats, and all they do is provide us a way to look at what has already happened. Stats can be good predictors of what will happen, but you have to look at them in the right light. The last 3 losses the Phillies had against the Cardinals, one could be a hang over from a double header, and the other two could be a hangover from clinching a division title and then taking the foot off the gas, while the Cardinals were fighting to even get into the playoffs. There’s a reason why the Phillies were 12 games ahead of them in the standings.