10/03/08 12:37 AM ET
Spin Forward: Prince aims to step up
Slugger 0-for-7 in first two games of NL Division Series
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
The big boppers for both teams -- Fielder and Ryan Howard -- have made no impact on the first two games of the best-of-five series, as the Phils jumped off to a 2-0 lead.Combined, Fielder and Howard are 0-for-11 with seven strikeouts and five walks. Fielder is 0-for-7 with three strikeouts and an intentional walk. Howard is 0-for-4 with four strikeouts and four walks, two of them intentional. Considering that Howard's club has a decided advantage in the series, he doesn't seem to be as disgruntled as Fielder. "I'm still trying to be patient," Howard said. "I'm still trying to wait. As long as some of the other guys can pick me up, then that's fine by me." Both sluggers carried their respective clubs in September, but this is October, and everyone is waiting.
BREWERS' ISSUES AT THE PLATE
|Some of the Brewers' pivotal bats have struggled through the first two games of the NLDS against the Phillies.|
|Prince Fielder: 0-for-7, 3 K, 1 BB|
|Mike Cameron: 0-for-7, 3K, 1 BB|
|Corey Hart: 1-for-7, 1 K, 0 BB|
|J.J. Hardy: 1-for-6, 1 R, 1 RBI, 0 K, 2 BB|
|Jason Kendall: 0-for-6, 2 K, 0 BB|
|Bill Hall: 0-for-3, 1 K, 0 BB|
|Rickie Weeks: 0-for-3, 2 K, 0 BB|
The fact is, it has been a team effort for Milwaukee. A club that finished the regular season with 199 homers has had seven hits in the series -- three doubles (two by Ryan Braun) and four singles."Well, obviously, we've got to swing the bats a little better than we have," Brewers manager Dale Sveum said. "And it's not a mystery. We haven't really swung the bats that well for the last month. We've had some big home runs to get us to this point. But on a whole, we're still not getting enough men on base to do a lot of damage. So we've really got to get home and figure the bats out." Asked about Fielder specifically, Sveum sort of bristled. "Prince, to single him out, is kind of ridiculous," he said. "Nobody's really swung the bat that good for a whole month. And Prince was hotter than blazes for two weeks, and now he's cooled off a little bit. But Prince can turn it on just like that, and obviously, he knows that we're going to need that when we get home." To be sure, Fielder really hasn't had many run-producing opportunities in the series -- three, to be exact. He struck out against Brad Lidge in the ninth inning on Wednesday with Braun on second and one out. On Thursday, in the first inning, the Brewers had runners on second and third with one out, and Phillies manager Charlie Manuel decided to walk Fielder intentionally to load the bases. And in the eighth, the lefty-swinging Fielder came up with runners on first and second. Manuel brought in left-hander J.C. Romero, who had barely warmed up when Fielder swung at the first pitch, shattered his bat and grounded meekly to second. "I was just trying to see the ball and hit it good," Fielder said. "But I took a rip at a pitch that was coming toward my Adam's apple. I saw it good, though." Fielder said that he isn't putting any undue pressure on himself, but he knows that if he doesn't get going, it won't be good for the team. "When I do have opportunities, I have carried my team better than I have so far," he said. "I haven't been able to do much of anything. This is not frustration talking. This is just fact. We can't afford me not doing my job a little better. That's the bottom line." As far as the notion of having other hitters on the team pick him up while he's struggling, Fielder doesn't buy it. "It's not about that," he said, "because when I'm in the box, there are no other guys with me. So I need to do my part." Whatever that part may be, if Fielder doesn't start doing it on Saturday, Milwaukee's season could be finished.
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.