Saturday, April 18, 2009

Brutal night in Philadelphia

Well, last night was a terrible night for Philadelphia sports fans. Starting as a somber night, with the organization doing a spectacular job of honoring Harry Kalas and the Kalas family before the game, it ended somber as well.

Cole Hamels was, once again, not Cole Hamels. He did pitch well enough to leave the game with a 7-5 lead, but the bullpen was anything but solid on yet another occasion. It seems like a different reliever getting rocked each night, and last night was Ryan Madson's turn. He blew the two-run lead, allowing three runs in one inning. Brad Lidge came in to pitch the ninth, and loaded the bases with no outs. He pitched out of the self created jam though and kept the deficit to just one run, which held up, giving San Diego an improbable 8-7 win.

Chase Utely staked the Phils to a 3-0 lead in the first with a long drive off starter Chris Young. You could collectively hear televisions switching to Comcast Sportsnet after the home run to watch the Flyers. It seemed as though they had it in the bag, scoring five in the first inning, and leading 7-1 after the fourth. The Padres began chipping away at Hamels, who allowed three more home runs. It was a pathetic way to lose a ballgame for sure.

It happens. That's baseball, especially playing in Citizen's Bank Park. But this team is having problems at the start of the season, and losing in that fashion did not help matters. They need a leader to step up and get everyone to lock in just a bit more. The entire pitching staff has ballooned earned run averages, and the rotation and bullpen simply has to improve.

This is not a Philly sports blog, so it is very rare that I will mention another sport here. That said, the Flyers lost an excruciatingly painful game last night. They came out, played much better, and should have won the game. When Jeff Carter was robbed by the skate Fluery's skate with essentially an empty net and the opportunity to put the team up 3-1 and even the series, I said they were going to lose the game. I just knew that was it, they needed that goal and somehow, someway it stayed out of the net. That save/choke was not only the turning point of the game, it was the turning point of the Flyers' season. Pittsburgh already gives us enough trouble, and the officials did not need to help them. Both of those calls were ridiculous for playoff overtime. Orpik went down like his name is toothpick, taking an obvious flop and earning the call. Moments later, Claude Giroux tapped Chris Kunitz's stick, breaking it. He was called for slashing, only because it broke the stick. I can see that being a penalty, but not when the team is already shorthanded in playoff overtime, and Orpik earned a call by flopping. Officials use discretion and call games differently based on the situation, and then suddenly change styles and start calling it more tightly. Hockey officials are the worst, most inconsistent officials in sports. All that aside, the game never should have gone to overtime. That was a brutal loss to take, and the Flyers are going to need a miraculous comeback to have a shot in this series.

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