Based on precedent anyway:
[The Phillies] are the 44th team to lose three of the first four games. Of the previous 43 teams, 41 played in a best-of-seven series. (The others were Boston in 1903, who won the next four games to take the Series, and the 1919 Reds, who won over the Black Sox).
Of the 41 teams who dropped three of the first four: They went 18-23 in Game 5. In Game 6, the remaining 18 teams went 8-10.
In Game 7, the remaining squads went 5-3. So, about one-eighth of the teams in this situation win it all. If you’re curious, the last seven teams to lose three of the first four couldn’t make the comeback.
With Cliff Lee on the mound you have to favor them to make it past hurdle number one, but I don’t see them winning out, no matter how much heart they allegedly have.
The wave of defensive shifts we’ve seen over the past few years has led to a lot of armchair hitting coaches demanding that players bunt to beat it. This is easier said than done, however.
The shift happens because certain hitters tend to pull the ball. Certain hitters tend to pull the ball because pulling the ball is what happens when one gets a strong, quick swing on a pitch one identifies early and which one endeavors to send as far away from home plate as possible. Which is to say that pulling is a skill that is good to have and which is strongly selected for among hitters.
In light of that, “why not just bunt to beat the shift” takes are kind of lazy. Bunting is hard! And it is not a thing guys who get shifted a lot are good at. Most of the time asking a player to do a thing he is not well-equipped to do is a bad idea. Indeed, a hitter voluntarily going away from his strength is something the defense would much prefer.
Most of the time anyway.
Last night Matt Carpenter made those armchair hitting coaches happy by laying down a bunt to beat the shift. And he laid it down so well that he ended up with a standup double:
One batter later Carpenter scored on a Starlin Castro error.
The shift giveth and the shift taketh away.