Can The Phillies Pull Off A Miracle?

History says that the Phillies are done. The Phillies don't believe in history. So, if they're going to bounce back, how are they going to do it?

There's no denying that the Phillies are in a tough spot. Down two-games-to-none, they need to win three straight against Colorado, with the first two of those games being played in the Mile High City. Plus, one of their starters, Kyle Lohse, was pressed into emergency relief service on Thursday when Kyle Kendrick sputtered. Jamie Moyer starts in Game Three and it's anybody's guess who will start Sunday, should the series go to a Game Four.

One thing is sure; it won't be Cole Hamels.

Hamels said he won't pitch on three days' rest Sunday if the Phillies can force a Game Four of their NL Division Series against the Colorado Rockies. Instead, he'll stick to his original plan of pitching Game Five. Hamels said part of the reason is because he only recently returned after missing a month with an elbow strain. He has only thrown his normal pitch count over his past two starts. "It's too much of a risk," Hamels said. "It's something where I'd rather take the Game Five because it's also about getting to that next level, that next stage. I don't know if it's selfish. Some people may take it that way. But it'll be better for me to go on my normal days' rest because of my (injury) track record. I know they understand that. That's why mentally, when they set it up, it was already in my head that I was starting (Games) 1 and 5. That's what I'm mentally getting prepared for, (pitching) back here. That's what I think is going to happen, and that's what I'm going to do."

So, did Charlie Manuel press a panic button when he went to Lohse?

Rookie right-hander Kyle Kendrick had earned Manuel's trust by winning 10 games after being rushed to the majors from Class AA in mid-June. Despite not being invited to major league spring training or factoring into the Phillies' plans until 2008, the 23-year-old right-hander lasted six innings or more in 15 of his 20 starts. But, after Kendrick loaded the bases with two outs in the fourth and the Phils leading 2-1, Manuel lifted him for Lohse, who had made two previous relief appearances this season but never entered in the middle of an inning.

Kazuo Matsui blasted Lohse's fourth pitch, a down-and-in fastball, over the right-field fence to give the Rockies a 6-3 lead en route to a 10-5 victory.

"I don't think it was a mistake," Manuel insisted. "I did it. I liked (Lohse) against Matsui, and one of the reasons I liked him is because of his stuff - breaking ball, changeup and fastball. I made the decision, and I was the guy that made it." Kendrick added, "It's his call. I felt OK."

Several players did a double-take when Manuel ambled to the mound.

"I was surprised," said Jimmy Rollins. "I thought, given what he'd done all year long that he'd get a chance. But it doesn't matter what I think. The manager made a decision. We have to live with it."

So, how do the Phillies get back into the series?

First, they need to be more selective at the plate. Just as they did last Saturday against Washington, the Phillies have come out flat and pressing in the first two games of the series. Their hitters have been trying to do too much by themselves, rather than simply looking to get on base and make something happen. One of the big pluses that the Phillies should have in this series is their running game. Yorvit Torrealba isn't stellar at throwing out base runners and the Colorado pitching staff isn't known for holding runners on base. Everyone but the slowest of the Phillies should be running. Preventing their opponents from using their speed is one weapon that the Rockies definitely don't possess.

It's a cliche, but it's one game at a time now for the Phillies. Having Moyer on the mound Saturday should help. He's a veteran pitcher who knows how to pitch in big games and he's not going to be overwhelmed by the emotion and pressure. They also have plenty of veteran pitchers in the bullpen who could come to the rescue as long as Moyer can give them six good innings of ball. The Phillies are facing a 22 year old in Ubaldo Jimenez and just as nerves may have played a role in Kendrick's struggles, Jimenez could face the same problems and the Phillies need to take advantage of it. Again, speed on the basepaths could provide a little more pressure for the young pitcher to deal with.

When they get to Game Four, it's likely that they can still return with Kyle Lohse. He threw just 22 pitches Thursday and will have two days to rest, meaning that he should be able to go Sunday. Again, having a veteran on the mound can't hurt and if the Phillies offense can give him some run support, Lohse could turn out to be a key to the series.

While the Phillies won just one of three games in Colorado this season, they have the weapons to take two straight there. If they can do that - and it's a big if - then it's down to one game at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday and Cole Hamels would be ready to go for the Phillies. It's a long shot at best, but not out of the question for the Phillies to pull off an improbable comeback in the series, even though it's against a team that has won 16 of the last 17 games that they've played.

Keep in mind though that the Phillies made a season out of improbable comebacks and were written off before. If the Rockies make the mistake of dismissing them, as many did during the regular season, this series could be headed back to Philadelphia.

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