Wednesday, October 29, 2008

World Series, Game 5: Phillies-Rays Re-Start

After a 46 hour rain delay, it's Geoff Jenkins, a mostly useless guy all year, out to hit for Hamels. Ball one is greeted with a thunderous roar. He swings and misses at 95, up and out. Balfour gets strike two, 96 and low; he looks sharp, but he's also breathing hard, and misses outside, even faster. He might be gripping a bit... and he overthrows again, taking the count full. Jenkins then absolutely crushes one to the wall in center right, some 395 feet away. He might have thought third, but that would have been a bad thought, given that Bossman Junior picked up the ball.

Rollins drops a first pitch bunt to third, moving Jenkins to third. Perfect execution, if not the best possible result. It's on Jayson Werth to get the run home.

Ball one, wild high. Rays warming two lefties in the pen. Ball two is away, still 95. Werth watches strike one inside high, and I don't think Balfour has thrown anything that has varied in speed. Another fastball in the same location is fouled back, and Balfour is smelling the strikeout at 2-2. Werth fists off a ball to very shallow center that Iwamura can't control, as the infield was in. That's scored as a hit, Balfour is done, and Howell will come in to face Utley. Who says this team is cursed, or that Charlie Manuel doesn't have the touch? He could have used Dobbs or Stairs; instead, he chose his third-best left-handed pinch-hitter, as if this was, you know, a normal game. Wow. 3-2, Phillies.

We come back from commercial to see Grant Balfour throwing his glove like an angry man. It's a darn shame. Darn shame!

Howell starts his night by throwing to first. Wheeler throwing, presumably for Burrell, assuming the inning gets that far. Strike one is on the outside corner with movement. Ryan Madson starts throwing for the Phillies. Joe Buck apologizes for Maddon using Balfour and Howell instead of Electric David Price, because that's what Fox does -- though the pitcher does hit fourth for the Rays next inning, and it's impossible for American League teams to use double changes. Gosh darn National League rules!

Strike two is on the corner, and strike three is a good curve, getting Utley to flail. Impressive stuff from Howell. Howard on, and since he doesn't have a man in scoring position, this should work out. Werth gets picked off and makes second base anyway, as Howell's move to first wasn't fast enough. Dammit, Jayson, now Howard can't get a hit! And to prove my point, Howard pops up to Longoria to end the inning. It's Ryan Madson time, and the Phillies are nine outs away.

If the Phillies hold the lead... Cole Hamels wins the game. Though to be honest, I never quite got that. Geoff Jenkins pinch-hit for him; he was in pitcher's position when the Phillies scored. Shouldn't he be the winning pitcher? Ok, well, no. Moving on.

Fox shows a ton of commercials, and I'm left to wonder if every post-season baseball telecast has to go 3 hours. Fox is wise to the Hamels win possibility; if he gets it, he's the first to ever start 5 and win 5. Navarro is the first hitter of the seventh, and Madson starts him off with an unhittable tailing fastball. Strike two is a change that's moving down; Navarro fights it off. Ball one misses inside by a little. Romero and Price warming up in opposite bullpens. Strike three is 94, on the inside corner and down, and damn near perfect. Sit down, meat.

Rocco Baldelli is up next... and he fists one to left, carrying nicely and gone. Crap, crap, crap. Tie game. Honestly, he didn't look good on the swing, but Baldelli just got it out anyway. Crap, crap, crap. 3-3 game.

Bartlett rips a base hit to left on an 0-1 pitch, and that looked more comfortable than the Baldelli homer. Bartlett is a stolen base threat, and Howell will stay in the game to bunt. One does wonder how much he's done that. Strike one is missed, but Howell gets it done, and it's two out, man on second, for Iwamura. Manuel has seen enough of Madson, and he's picked a bad time to be human. Romero in after an ungodly amount of commerce.

Fox goes for the Baldelli mouth job, and I guess it's pretty damn warranted. Jerk. Romero looks Bartlett back to second. Strike one is a good fastball on the inside corner. Chad Bradford getting loose. Utley then makes a great play to keep Iwamura's slow roller in the infield, then catches Bartlett getting greedy on the turn; it's a close play at the plate, but he's clearly out, and the inning is over. Aggro base running giveth, and aggro base running taketh away. I suspect Fox is quite happy with their evening of programming so far tonight -- this game is crazy tight. 3-3 going into the bottom of the seventh.

Howell starts Burrell with a strike. Two nights ago, Pat the Not Bat took two walks, but he's still 0 for 13 for the Series. Fox is in full goat mode for him, showing the graphic every time he comes up... and Burrell responds with a mashed ball to left that would have been out in the months that God intended baseball to be played. Bruntlett in to run for him. One wonders why he's not on third, but then again, it's Pat Burrell. Chad Bradford on for the Rays to turn Victorino around. If I'm the Rays, I go with Wheeler here, in that Chadford is prone to ground ball singles, but Joe Maddon will do what Joe Maddon will do...

Victorino shows bunt, and watches ball one. Again, this is setting up the bottom of the order, but Manuel has had the touch. Second pitch is bunted foul; Bradford can't be an easy guy to bunt, really. Manuel comes out to talk about something, and McCarver is dreaming of a balk call. Strike two is a whiffed bunt, and so much for that strategy. Bradford doesn't strike out a lot of guys, and he won't get Victorino either, as he pulls the ball to Iwamura. Man on third, one out, for Feliz.

Rather than go to Dobbs, Manuel leaves in Pedro. I suspect he likes Feliz v. Bradford more than Dobbs v. Electric David Price. Strike one is fouled off... and the third baseman rips a ball up the middle that would have been a single, even if the infield hadn't been up. The Phillies take the lead back, and Charlie Manuel is a genius. 4-3, Phillies.

Carlos Ruiz up as Maddon leaves Bradford in. The sidewinder gets ahead 0-2, with Dobbs on deck. Price warming. Ruiz loops one up the middle, but Iwamura makes a great play to get Feliz. Two outs, and that keeps Romero in the game; he grounds out on the first pitch. Curious.

Romero starts the eighth with a 2-0 count to Crawford, then hits the inside corner for strike one, and misses low for 3-1. Not the man you want to walk. Strike two is a marginal low call, but Fox gives it to him easily. On the full count, Crawford laces it to center, and the Phillies relieves are picking a bad time to be hittable.

Bossman Junior up now, and this is major scary... for all of a pitch, as he taps a perfect double play ball to Rollins. Phew. Monstrously big. Carlos Pena up with 2 outs and nobody one, with Longoria on deck. The lefty will be Romero's last hitter, and he overthrows ball one. Big nerves time for everyone, really. A pinched high fastball makes it 2-0 to the first baseman. Scott Eyre throwing with Lidge, probably just for company. A floater makes it 3-0. 94mph at the letters makes it 3-1, but not a great pitch; if he tries it again, Pena probably jumps on it. The 3-1 pitch is a fastball inside that Pena serves to Bruntlett in left for the first scoreless inning of the re-start. We are three outs away, with Longoria, Navarro and ... Baldelli due in the ninth. Insurance would be Quite Helpful, and the Phillies will have the top of the order to try to provide it.

Price and Aybar in, so Maddon does know how to double-switch; Aybar will hit fourth in the ninth, and replaces Pena. The Electric One is low on the first two pitches to Rollins. Rollins gets under the third pitch and it dies on the track to Crawford in left, and it's time for Fox to show us grainy Philly championship footage.

Up yours, Fox.

Werth dives out of the way of a low cutter -- let it hit you! -- for a 2-1 count, then fouls off heat. Strike three is called on the outside corner, and Electric David Price has two outs.

Fox then craps on us with the Billy Penn Hat legend, and we see some dinky statue on top of the Comcast tower. Um, whatever.

Up yours, Fox.

Utley gets to 3-0, then watches 95 mph on the outside corner for 3-1. The Electric One will make a lot of money playing baseball. The 3-1 pitch is about as bad as Utley has ever looked on a fastball, but the 3-2 heater is away, and Chase takes the walk. Insurance is up to Ryan Howard, and maybe he gets a fastball he can handle. A long ball would make many, many Phillies fans relax, maybe for the first time in three days.

Strike one is a high but moving slider at 87. Et tu, Electric One? Give the big man a fastball. Not on the second or third pitches, which miss. Crowd gets into it, and on Yet Another Slider, Utley steals second, more to show that he can, really. Bruntlett on deck, and he did hit a homer in game two. Fouls off strike two, off speed again... and then Price finally gives in and throws a fastball right by Howard. We're into the top of the ninth, with Brad Lidge needing three outs for immortality. 4-3, Phillies.

Well, folks, this is everything that Phillies Fan could have hoped for from this bizarro game -- a lead in the ninth with the closer that hasn't failed all year. Everybody convinced that we're doomed yet? I know that I am. Evan Longoria looks like Albert Pujols. Dioner Navarro looks like a left-handed Albert Pujols. Rocco Baldelli has already homered tonight. We're doomed.

Strike one is a nasty slider that moves all over. Strike two is 94 mph heat that Longoria is late on. Joe Buck tells us about Lidge's last home run allowed. Up yours, Fox. Longoria watches the slider miss, low and away. He also looks at 93 mph heat up and on the hands. Heat outside, on the black, is fouled off. The slider gets him guessing fastball, and he pops it up. Utley squeezes it. One away.

Navarro gets a first-pitch slider strike. Useful pitch, that. A second one is out of the zone, and the catcher goes fishing. Strike two. McCarver warns of wild pitch strike outs, where the hitter reaches first. That's another way we're doomed. A broken bat single to right gets the catcher aboard, and we're doomed. Maddon pinch runs Fernando Perez, who scored the winning run in game two of the ALCS; he might as well have a baton. Ben Zobrist in to hit for Baldelli.

First pitch fastball at 92 is a strike. The Rays have stolen more bases in post-season than any other team ever. Ball one is a slider that misses outside. Curious that he hasn't moved on either pitch, but he goes on the second ball of the at bat, a slider that misses. Man on second, 2-1, and Lidge is 180 feet away from his first blown save of the season. Doom Time... and Zobrist's line drive is right at Werth in right. That's justice for Navarro's crappy single. Two outs, and Perez can't advance.

Eric Hinske, who also homered earlier in this series, hits for Bartlett. He's only here because Cliff Floyd got hurt. He has a World Series ring with the Red Sox last year. He's a white, left-handed, Albert Pujols. We're doomed.

A slow roller goes foul to first for strike one. He can't check on the slider for strike two, and Rays Fan, assuming he exists, has another beef with the men in blue. 0-2 count. Crowd huge. And strike three is a slider that Hinske seems to know that he has no chance on in mid-swing. And just like that, it's all over. Phillies 4, Rays 3, in five games.

The Phillies are the world champions.

No one in Philadelphia has to be from the town that hates any more.

Charlie Manuel's mom smiles.

Writing that made me cry.

Pat Gillick retires on top.

Brad Lidge is perfect -- now and forever.

Had 'em all along.

1 comment:

Tracer Bullet said...

But I'm not going to get another Garment of Greatness. What about ME, dammit?

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