Eighth inning: Oh, those runners left on base

MILWAUKEE – Geoff Jenkins made his first post-season plate appearance to start the eighth after 10 years in the big leagues playing for the Brewers. They really like Jenkins here and some even call Miller Park, “The House that Jenk Built.”

Not quite, but it’s a nice sentiment.

Nevertheless, Jenkins lifted an easy fly to left off once-dominant closer, Eric Gagne for the first out of the eighth before Jimmy Rollins tried to beat out a bunt, but was off on the execution.

Jayson Werth helped the Phillies add to their impressive runners-left-stranded-in-scoring-position totals by ripping a double off the wall in left before Chase Utley ended the inning with a fly out.

Combined, Utley, Ryan Howard and Pat Burrell are a combined 3-for-26 in the series. That total fits nicely with the 22 runners left on base during the series, including 15 in scoring position.

Fortunately, the Brewers could not add on against Ryan Madson in the eighth as the Phillies go down to their final three outs against closer Salomon Torres.

We’ll all know what we’re doing on Sunday very soon.

End of 8: Brewers 4, Phillies 1

Going live: Phillies on the cusp

ANOTHER PROGRAMMING NOTE: Apparently I have been misinformed – tonight’s nightcap is, indeed, on television. So tune in and watch all the pageantry from here at Citizens Bank Park. In the meantime, I mentally prepared myself to go live tonight. Since it will take heavy medication in order to bring down the self-induced buzz, I’m just going to go through with it. Why not? I have a Starbucks IV drip in my right arm and I have been chugging diet coke at a steady rate all afternoon so I’m going to be up for a while. What the hell? I might as well be productive.

Now off to the demise of Ned Yost…

Play with fire and there is a really good chance that skin grafts could be in your future. Along those lines, people generally slow down to check out a car crash, a barn fire or “American Idol.”

Yes, we enjoy watching other people’s failure. Actually, we revel in it. Sometimes we even do a little touchdown dance at the end of it. This afternoon, nearly 46,000 people screamed, shimmied and shouted as the Phillies beat the Milwaukee Brewers for the third time in a row. Oh sure, most of those cheers were for the Phillies as they rallied to within a game in the wild-card chase against the Brewers, but a little bit of it was a taunt.

The Brewers are in free-fall mode and it seems as it is all going to end with manager Ned Yost’s head on a platter.

Under Yost’s watch, the Brewers are poised to ruin another season with a failed playoff march. In this case, the Brewers have lost 10 of their last 13 games and could see a four-game lead in the wild-case race vanish by the time they board the charter bound for Chicago this evening.

The intriguing part – the car-crash part, if you will – is that some of the fault rests squarely on Yost’s shoulders. For instance, Yost wasn’t too keen on bumping up workhorse ace CC Sabathia to pitch on short rest in the must-win game of tonight’s day-night finale. In fact, Yost was adamant about holding the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner to open the series against the Cubs on Tuesday night when the reality is that the Brewers need to win now.

Tomorrow might not matter.

Yost’s non-move that directly helped the Phils on Sunday afternoon could be the watershed moment of his demise in Milwaukee – perhaps more so than the scuffles that had occurred in his dugout this year.

In this instance Yost opted to allow lefty reliever Brian Shouse to remain in the game with one out and two on during the bottom of the eighth with the slumping right-handed hitter Pat Burrell digging in. Yost stuck with Shouse despite the fact that hard-throwing righty Eric Gagne was warming up in the bullpen and owned an 0-for-3 mark with a strikeout against Burrell.

Never mind the point that Burrell went to the plate hitting just .138 (4-for-29) during September and a .172 average since the end of July, Yost stuck with the soft-tossing Shouse. The reasoning was that his lefty was a groundball pitcher and Burrell did hit a grounder. The problem was that the ground ball did go at one of his fielders.

“When you’re struggling, things never seem to go your way,” Yost said.

Conversely it could be said that people make their own breaks. Generally, there is a reason why some teams get lucky – it’s because they put themselves in a position to be lucky. That said, there is a definite difference between a ground ball out and a ground ball single. In the case of Burrell it helped him pick up a game-winning RBI and set the table for Shane Victorino’s game-breaking three-run homer a few pitches later.

Better yet, it set the table for the Phillies to draw even with the Brewers and then stick them in the rear-view mirror.

It’s probably time to forget about the Brewers and keep an eye on the Astros, Cardinals and Mets.

Here are tonight’s lineups:

11 – Rollins, ss
28 – Werth, rf
26 – Utley, 2b
6 – Howard, 1b
5 – Burrell, lf
8 – Victorino, cf
7 – Feliz, 3b
27 – Coste, c
39 – Myers, p

1 – Hart, rf
7 – Hardy, ss
5 – Durham, 2b
28 – Fielder, 1b
8 – Braun, lf
25 – Cameron, cf
30 – Counsell, 3b
18 – Kendall, c
37 – Suppan, p

Stick around… I’ll be back closer to game time.