Monday, October 13, 2008

Stairs Way to Heaven; Phils Go Up 3-1 (Live)

Joe Torre has taken the unusual decision of starting Derek Lowe on only three days' rest for the fourth game of the 2008 NLCS. Because he is Joe Torre, his decision has been universally praised. Charlie Manuel starts Joe Blanton, clearly missing a golden opportunity to tire Cole Hamels by starting him on short rest.

8:29 - We begin as Chase Utley drives Jimmy Rollins in to give the Phillies a first-inning 1-0 lead with no outs. Lowe is looking great on 3 days rest.

8:31 - Jayson Werth scores from third on a Howard groundout. It's his first RBI of the series. There goes that slump. 2-0 Phillies.

8:33 - Lowe and his manager can't believe he walked Pat Burrell. Clearly they have not been watching Burrell play. Baseballs are magnetically repelled from his body.

8:35 - Victorino grounds into a double play. Perhaps he is actually not God.

8:43 - Blanton gives Manny an intentional walk with one out and a man on second. The announcers criticize him. He would clearly be an easier out if Tim McCarver were pitching.

8:46 - Blanton misses and lets Loney double to centre, making it 2-1. Viewers prepare for a batters' duel.

8:51 - Dobbs leads the inning off with a double to right. His five defensive errors not having happened yet, we are still glad he is starting this game.

8:53 - Clips of Joe Torre arguing with the umpire between innings. This rivalry will be played up at all costs.

8:55 - Joe Blanton strikes out after taking the first two pitches, having taken only the first half of his walk-drawing lessons from Pat Burrell.

9:02 - Casey Blake tries to bunt then strikes out looking. Apparently the word is out that Dobbs is playing.

9:02 - Larry Bowa has to be moved back into the coach's box so he can't steal signs. Now even when the Phillies are winning regularly we are not spared seeing him blow up at every opportunity.

9:06 - After Pierre is caught stealing (you don't steal bases on Joe Blanton, Juan. Didn't you get the memo?), Lowe hits a blooper into shallow center. Rollins tries to go make the over the shoulder basket catch, Willie Mays style, but it catches the heel of his glove and he can't hang on. However, it won't matter as Furcal hits a routine fly ball to center, ending the inning.

9:12 - Utley grounds a one-out single to right before Howard flies out to center. They seem to be collaborating to get him the record for most times stranded.

9:21 - Blanton makes like he wants to pitch-around Manny, then fakes him out with two right down the middle, the puts one just off the plate. An unintentional-intentional-unintentional walk?

9:23 - Martin outruns being caught in a double play, then goes first to third on a Loney single. Can we try putting catchers' gear on Victorino some time?

9:32 - Furcal bobbles a routine grounder from Ruiz, and doesn't get hit with the error. Can't remember - do hits like this account for most of his batting average?

9:39 - Rich Dubee tells us Blanton has been taking good care of himself. Yes coach, we know he has been eating well.

9:50 - Lowe gets a one-two-three inning. The game has transformed into a pitchers' duel, but he's already over seventy pitches on short rest, so he must tire soon. Right?

9:55 - Dissection of Utley politely questioning the bad call on his strikeout earlier. FOX is plainly rooting for a brawl.

9:57 - Manny up with two on and nobody out. For reference, THIS is when it's a bad idea to walk him.

9:58 - Furcal runs through the stop sign to score and tie the game. Good to know Larry Bowa is still helping us out.

10:01 - 3-2 Dodgers on a Manny hit, and Ethier scoring on a ground out. Loney gets an intentional walk, just because it feels right.

10:04 - Blanton gets out of it with a double-play. How many can we intentionally walk now?

10:09 - Kershaw relieves Lowe and deals Ryan Howard a lead-off walk. They DID say this young rookie could do incredible things...

10:12 - Burrell hits one past Furcal. Either he's being clutch again, or Rafael Furcal is just awful.

10:13 - Victorino bunts the runners over. Good move. Pedro Feliz bats for Dobbs. Huh? Memo to Manuel: batting and fielding are different actions.

10:18 - Chan Ho Park comes in and Howard for some reason does not tag, but all is forgiven when he comes in on a wild pitch. Sadly now Ruiz is up.

10:22 - Jenkins hits for Blanton so Torre goes to Joe Beimel. Manuel's strategy is to make Torre run out of pitchers.

10:24 - Taguchi comes into hit for Jenkins. Or... do something for him. A spectacular catch by Andre Ethier ends the inning.

10:29 - Durbin comes in and gives up a lead-off homer. Perhaps Blanton should have bat for himself.

10:37 - Durbin is pulled for a failure to record any outs and Eyre comes in. At least the Phillies know that the Dodgers pretty much only have Greg Maddux left in their dugout.

10:37 - Howard throws the ball into the outfield on a routine play, allowing the runners to reach second and third and a run to score. 5-3 Dodgers. Well, his astounding hitting this postseason comes at a price.

10:44 - After Ethier lines out, Manny is given an intentional walk. The fans boo as if this is some kind of surprise.

10:50 - Madson comes in, and Utley makes a great play, spearing a liner and jumping to the bag to eke out a double play. Just you wait. He will win this thing singlehandedly.

11:02 - Up and in on Loney gets booed. It's not as if LA fans have nothing to get excited about.

11:06 - Howard slips before making the play at first on a sacrifice bunt. We have still yet to get an explanation for why it is Burrell who is taken out for defensive replacements.

11:19 - After Howard singles Torre goes to Cory Wade from the bullpen. Victorino saves the day yet again by hitting a two-run homer and tying the game. Who knew Shane would be the big power hitter of the NLCS? After another hit Torre goes to Broxton. Hindsight is 20/20.

11:26 - Matt Stairs hits a home run off Broxton in his first time facing him and it is HUGE. The Stairmaster gets to jog, and the Phillies take a 7-5 lead in the top of the eighth. It's his first postseason homer after playing in the majors since 1992. In two playoff appearances with the 1995 Red Sox and 2000 A's he had never been past the division series, either.

11:38 - A lead-off walk then a double-play keep J. C. Romero in the game and means the Phillies can pitch to Manny. But Manuel feels he needs Lidge for an extra out for the first time even with nobody on. Let's see if this works out.

11:44 - Manny doubles. It's a good thing Lidge was there.

11:46 - Martin reaches on a strikeout and a wild pitch. Loney is up. I have nothing to say.

11:51 - He flies out to Bruntlett. That was harder than it should have been.

11:57 - Ryan Howard beats out a double play. This is a night of many wonders.

12:02 - Bruntlett beats out a double play then is out on a picthout, stealing for no reason. For some reason both teams thought it would make sense for the Phillies to steak with two outs in the ninth, up by two. It is a night of many wonders.

12:05 - Kent flies out to Victorino. 
You think Nomar evers turns to Kent and says, "Hey, remember when we were starters...on the All-Star team?" and then they both cry on each other's shoulders?

12:09 - Now they have one more thing to cry about. Lidge gets the save and the Phillies get the come-from-behind 7-5 win. One more win wins them the series and a trip to the World Series. It was a bizarre game and frustrating at times, but ultimately satisfying. On to Game 5, and Cole Hamels' start!

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