Their final game was emblematic of their season: A quick early surge of offense, nothing in the middle, runners left on base everywhere.
Eliminated by the Giants, 3-2, in Game 6 last night, the Phillies will not make their third straight trip to the World Series because they could not generate rallies, plain and simple. Their biggest hit of the night was Chase Utley's first-inning double into the rightfield corner, driving in the first run and setting up the second. They were 2-for-2 with runners in scoring position at that point.
Then Jonathan Sanchez left the game.
From then on, the Phillies left two runners on in the third, bases loaded in the fifth, stranded Raul Ibanez on third with one out in the sixth, and could not push the tying run across in the eighth inning after two one-out singles against Tim Lincecum.
Carlos Ruiz ripped an opposite field line drive to first baseman Aubrey Huff. Shane Victorino, overeager as always, was closer to third than second when it hit his Huff's glove and was easily doubled off.
In the ninth, the Phillies put two runners on with two out, had Ryan Howard at the plate. he ran the count to 3-2, fouled a pitch straight back, and watched a cutter for a called strike three.
The Giants also had their troubles. They recorded nine hits off Phillies starter Roy Oswalt, ran themselves into an out at home in their two-run third inning, had two runners on in the fifth, sixth, and seventh, and came away with nothing.
``Giants baseball: Torture'' was a tongue-in-cheek description by announce Duane Kuiper that became the team's rallying cry. But the Phillies co-opted it this series, wasting numerous opportunities in two of the three games played in their home park, torturing fans time and again with sloppy at-bats that aborted rallies.
The Giants pitched well. So did the Phillies. The difference in this series came down to little things, to shortening swings, to smart at-bats. It was something the Phillies were supposed to specialize in, and something the Giants were notoriously bad at. But almost habitually, the Phillies chased balls on favorable counts, failed to make contact with a runner on third and less than two out -- as Ben Francisco did in that critical seventh.
Giants batters prolonged at-bats by fouling off pitches, by throwning their bats at balls sometimes as Edgar Renteria did again last night.
There will be much talk today about the eighth-inning home run Juan Uribe hit off Ryan Madson to break a 2-2 in the eighth inning last night. But it meant nothing without all the self-inflicted wounds that preceded it. Madson was working his third straight game, was in his second inning, trying to bridge the game to Brad Lidge in the ninth. After striking out the first two batters he faced to run his streak to six, his outs came harder, until Uribe's unlikely opposite-field poke.
So now what? The likely departure of Jayson Werth for one. Some tough calls on bullpen guys, a re-shuffling there as well. An even more lefthanded lineup looms for next year, a lineup that opponents have already developed a blueprint to pitch to.
The big three will be back of course, and if healthy, should make next summer another exciting one. But the days of watching these guys bomb balls over the fence and chip away at you with their speed and smarts may be going, going gone.
Phillies baseball: Torture.
It has a sickening ring to it.