Just relax, Manuel says
Charlie Manuel handed out rubber ducks to his players Monday at Tropicana Field to remind everybody to stay cool. That means you, too.
Charlie Manuel handed out rubber ducks to his players Monday at Tropicana Field to remind everybody to stay cool.
That means you, too.
"We're in a seven-game series . . . and you look at it and go, 'Oh, man, the world is going to come to an end just because we didn't hit last night,' " the Phillies' manager said before a workout yesterday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park.
"Now, let me tell you something," he said. "We've got some more baseball to play. . . . You're like, 'I've got a lot of faith in our guys, and we're going to win this thing.' "
The Phillies enter Game 3 of the World Series tonight at Citizens Bank Park tied with the Tampa Bay Rays in the best-of-seven competition, with the Phillies having won Game 1, 3-2, and the Rays having taken Game 2, 4-2.
The Phillies have the home-field advantage, with the next three games at the Bank and the final two, if necessary, at Tropicana Field.
"We've put ourselves in a good situation back here," outfielder Jayson Werth said.
The Rays have to face the Phillies' crowd, which comes sans cowbells but with plenty of pent-up passion.
The Phillies haven't played at home since Game 2 of the National League Championship Series on Oct. 10. They haven't played a World Series game at home since Game 5 in 1993.
"We got cursed out about as much as you can get cursed out in one minute," Rays designated hitter Cliff Floyd said of his team's short walk from the hotel to the team bus. "We've played in New York, but I think these fans are a little bit more ruthless here than in New York.
"I know one way to shut them up is win. . . . Now, our boys over here know what the heck we're dealing with. Like I said, you jump on them early, maybe we can shut them up a little bit. That's the only thing you hope for."
The best way to liven up a crowd, especially one dying to blow out its vocal cords, is to hit. But hits in clutch situations have been almost impossible to find for the Phillies. They are hitting .036 with runners in scoring position in the Series, the second-worst mark in Series history, going 1 for 28.
If it continues, the Phillies probably can't win.
"Nobody is panicking," first baseman Ryan Howard said.
"This isn't the end of the world," infielder Eric Bruntlett said. "There's no need to panic. We just need to go back to what it was that got us out of it before.
"If we keep getting guys on base and put pressure on them, we're going to score runs. That's definitely encouraging. It's not like we can't get guys on and we're not doing anything. I just think it's going to happen. I don't think there's any way it can't."
A handful of Phillies had extra hitting with coach Milt Thompson after batting practice yesterday, including Jimmy Rollins and Howard. Rollins is hitting .191, with two homers and two RBIs, in the postseason. Howard is hitting .250, with no homers and three RBIs.
"I think it's a matter of the guys relaxing," Manuel said. "Definitely, we've got to cut down on our swing some. We're swinging hard. That's a sign of trying too hard and trying to do too much.
"And especially when we've got a guy on third base and less than two out, we've got to get him in. Situational hitting and stuff like that you've got to execute.
"Right now, we take big, long swings with two strikes. We're caught up in it. It looks to me like we're trying to hit the ball out of the yard."
So forget the long ball. Just put the ball in play with a runner on third base.
"It's just a momentum issue," catcher Chris Coste said. "It's going to have to be that one guy to step up and get that one big hit, and hopefully it steamrolls after that."
The Phillies are confident it begins tonight.