Manuel Says Phillies Are 'Trying Too Hard'

By Mark Viera
Special to The Washington Post
Saturday, October 25, 2008

PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 24 -- The Philadelphia Phillies have provided this long-suffering city another glimpse of the World Series thanks largely to their powerful bats. But through the first two games of this series, the Phillies have been victimized by lagging productivity.

Philadelphia is 1 for 28 with runners in scoring position, a statistic that has been so discussed it almost has seemed to take on a life of its own. As a consequence of their inability to produce runs, the Phillies, who led the National League in home runs during the regular season, have returned to Game 3 against the Tampa Bay Rays with the series tied at one game each.

"I think it's a matter of the guys relaxing, and we've definitely got to cut down on our swings some," Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel said Friday. "We're swinging too hard. That's a sign of trying too hard and trying to do too much."

Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins, two of the Phillies' stars, have particularly struggled. Howard, an MVP candidate in the National League after accumulating 48 home runs and 146 RBI during the regular season, has gone 2 for 9 against the Rays. He was hitless (0 for 4) in Game 1. Rollins is 0 for 10 with three strikeouts in the series.

"Right now, we take big long swings with two strikes," Manuel said. "We're caught up in it, and we're trying to swing and we're trying to hit the ball. Looks to me like we're trying to hit the ball out of the yard. And that's not only one; that's kind of a team thing."

Holding Steady

Life in the bullpen is one of uncertainty, with a reliever's fate decided by a ringing phone. But that is no truer for the Rays, who have used a bullpen by committee as a big asset.

Though the relievers do not have set roles, Tampa Bay has been effective when calling for relief. That showed in Game 2, when starter James Shields exited after 5 2/3 innings. The Rays then turned to Dan Wheeler and David Price, who threw 2 1/3 innings, to close out the win.

"This year, it's like, well hey, we get a lead that's it," reliever Grant Balfour said. "We're confident we're going to win games."

Old Against Young

Some members of the Rays probably were in diapers when Jamie Moyer made his major league debut on June 16, 1986. But Moyer, who has scuffled this postseason with a 13.50 ERA, will face them Saturday when he starts Game 3.

Moyer, 45, would become the second-oldest player to take the field in a World Series. The oldest to play was another Philadelphia pitcher, Jack Quinn of the 1930 Athletics. He was 47. Quinn also pitched in the 1929 World Series, at age 46.

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