Mix of Aggression and Patience Works Well

Call it "patiently aggressive". For the Phillies, it was a new approach that worked well and an approach that could continue to work down the road. Plus, we've got an analysis on why a Game Four wouldn't be so bad.

If you watched the Phillies hitters at the plate on Thursday, you saw an exercise in patience. As CC Sabathia melted down, Phillies hitters simply allowed it to happen. They avoided swinging at bad pitches and also elected to wait out Sabathia until he threw one strike before they started hacking.

Yes, patience is a virtue.

If you watched the Phillies baserunners on Thursday, you saw an exercise in aggressiveness. As CC Sabathia melted down, the Phillies baserunners added to his problems by taking off whenever they got the chance. They were aggressive on the bases, not feeling content with being in scoring position and preferring instead to move to the next base.

Yes, aggressiveness is good.

Patience and aggressiveness found a way to coexist for the Phillies on Thursday and it's an approach that they well need to remember. Even though Sabathia is generally right around the strike zone, Phillies hitters made him prove that he would be there again. Phillies hitters who are normally hacking at the first offering that they see, were willing to sit back and see what Sabathia could do against them. While they were patient, they didn't give an inch; just ask Brett Myers, whose walk extended the third inning and gave Shane Victorino the chance to launch the first grand slam of his career and bury Sabathia.

Meanwhile, Phillies baserunners swiped four bases and attempted five steals, all against a catcher who was among the best in the league in throwing out baserunners. Those stolen bases kept Sabathia on his heels and didn't allow him to settle in.

This is a winning mixture for baseball. Facing one of the best pitchers in baseball, the Phillies realized that he was going on three days rest for the fourth straight start and that perhaps the best thing they could do was make him throw as many pitches as possible. The Phillies put their ability to be successful at stealing bases to the test and took off whenever they could and were able to be successful.

Why four games wouldn't be so bad

Should Jamie Moyer and the Phillies close out the NLDS in three games on Saturday, that would push Game Four starter Joe Blanton off until who knows when. While rest is good, Blanton hasn't pitched since September 26, which means he would already be on nine days rest before making his scheduled start on Sunday. If he doesn't pitch until the NLCS, he's going to be going on over two weeks and that simply isn't a good recipe for success.

It's possible that if the Phillies do clinch in three, that Blanton will make a quick side trip to Clearwater to pitch during one of the Phillies Florida Instructional League games. It would give him a chance to face live hitters in at least some semblance of game competition and would hopefully keep him sharp enough to pitch effectively in the NLCS.

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