An Utley failure: Chase morphs into Knoblauch before our eyes

Just when you assumed it was safe for Chase Utley(notes) to throw a baseball, he went all Chuck Knoblauch on the Phillies at Dodger Stadium the past two games.

Nobody in the front row was safe!

Utley's throwing error on Friday afternoon — his second in as many days — proved very costly as it allowed the tying run to score and fueled an eighth-inning rally that led to the Dodgers 2-1 victory and evened the NLCS at a game apiece. Watch it here

"It was just a bad throw," Utley told reporters after the game. "I just made a bad throw."

Utley has never won a Gold Glove — which doesn't say much about those who select the award — but he's still known as one of the best defensive second basemen in the league. After making it through 2009's regular season with just four throwing errors, Utley has made two in two games and both came at unfortunate moments for the Phillies.

On Friday, with Chan Ho Park(notes) trying to protect a 1-0 lead and what had been seven near-pristine innings by Pedro Martinez(notes), the Dodgers put runners at first and second to start the bottom of the eighth.

Russell Martin(notes) then hit a grounder to Pedro Feliz(notes), who started to turn a 5-4-3 double play. But with Ronnie Belliard(notes) almost-but-not-quite bearing down on Utley, he sailed the relay throw way above Ryan Howard(notes) at first base and off the railing of the Phillies dugout.

Juan Pierre(notes) came around to score easily and — four batters later — J.A. Happ(notes) walked Andre Ethier(notes) with the bases loaded to force in the winning run with two outs on the board.

On Thursday, Utley's failure to turn a another double play drew a glare from pitcher Cole Hamels(notes) and played a part in the Dodgers getting back into Game 1.

So what's going on? Is it just a couple of "bad" throws or something more sinister?

Naturally, thoughts around the blogosphere turned to the strange career of former Yankees 2B Chuck Knoblauch, himself a great offensive player at one time and an OK defensive player at second base (Utley's reputation with the glove is much better). Knobby seemingly forgot how to throw one day and his career suffered for it.

The same thing happened to Steve Sax, a former Dodger. One day he just started heaving routine throws to first base into the first row. Nobody ever figured out why.

Look, nobody's saying that Utley is really turning into Knoblauch or Sax... unless that's what we're saying. It was hard to imagine it happening with a player of Utley's caliber, but it did happen twice and on Friday, it cost the Phillies big time.

Other popular stories on Yahoo! Sports:
NBA great's awkward gaffe on game show
Ky. basketball star’s incredible acts of kindness
Top 10: Sports video games of all time

What to Read Next