Phillies get taste of their own medicine in NLDS Game 2: A fan’s reaction

The Philadelphia Phillies have been in two very similar games in the NLDS so far.

We Philadelphia fans breathed a big sigh of relief on Oct. 1 when the Phillies fell behind early in Game 1, then shut down the St. Louis Cardinals and woke up on offense in the later innings. But in Game 2, the shoe was on the other foot as the Cardinals got themselves on the other end of that formula.

Like Roy Halladay(notes) before him, Chris Carpenter was torched in the opening innings and fell into a huge hole. Yet like the Cardinals in Game 1, the Phillies had no offense to speak of after their opening 4-0 lead in Game 2. And just as Philadelphia finally knocked around Kyle Lohse(notes) after a few innings, St. Louis pulled off an even bigger feat by going off on Cliff Lee(notes) in the middle innings.

While the Phillies used this formula to take early control of the NLDS, the Cardinals' 5-4 victory gives them a golden chance to take control of their own. Now that St. Louis knows that it can get to Philadelphia's starters, and now that it has home-field advantage for the next two games, things could get quite tight all of a sudden.

It shouldn't have had to get that tight, as the Phillies were in prime position to take full command of this series and breeze into the NLCS. Instead, their own method of victory in Game 1 was used against them in even more shocking fashion.

The Cardinals were handcuffed by Halladay after getting an early three-run homer, which is understandable. What is less logical is the Phillies chasing Carpenter out after three innings and then getting just one more hit against a St. Louis bullpen that has even more question marks than theirs. Yet Tony LaRussa used every move he could to keep Philadelphia in check, while Charlie Manuel stayed conventional and stuck with Lee longer than he should have.

This is also a familiar formula, as the San Francisco Giants' Bruce Bochy mixed and matched whatever he could in last year's NLCS and it paid off every time, while Manuel stayed put and looked foolish. Even though LaRussa knew to take out a struggling starter quickly to contain the damage, Manuel's trust in Lee didn't work even though it normally pays off. However, given Lee's last three ugly postseason starts, Mr. October has suddenly become a question mark himself.

It is already clear that no lead is safe in this NLDS, as whoever can put together a complete nine-inning performance first will probably win this series. The Phillies looked like the clear favorite to put that together, but they have given the Cardinals home-field advantage and new life—which is dangerous against a team that has been brought back to life time and again in this last month.

As such, not only have two big leads been blown in this series, but the Phillies may have lost their big advantage as well. Yet now that advancing to the NLCS is no longer a sure thing, can Philadelphia rally from having its back against the wall like St. Louis just did?

Other stories from this contributor:

Phillies, Manuel put legacies on the line this October

Will Phillies regret letting Cardinals into postseason?

Phillies are established World Series favorites for first time ever

Can 2011 Phillies top Philadelphia's past 100-plus win teams?

Phillies could hurt themselves in postseason by beating Braves

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Updated Monday, Oct 3, 2011