Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Meet Your 2008 World Champions! (Live)

When we last saw our heroes they had just fallen victim to the elements and allowed the Rays to tie Game 5 of the World Series at 2-2. Now the Phillies resume the first suspended game in World Series history, starting in the bottom of the sixth. Hamels is due to bat first, but will almost certainly be replaced by a pinch hitter. Could that mean he's available for Game 7? Well, it shouldn't have to come to that. Whether or not it does depends on the two teams' bullpens. That seems to favor the Phillies, but who knows any more. We'll find out shortly.

8:38: As we start the bottom of the sixth (finally!), it's Grant Balfour against Geoff Jenkins. Good move by Manuel. Jenkins is expendable should the Rays counter with a lefty.
8:42: And Jenkins delivers! He hammers a double to the gap in right center. The ball looked playable for Baldelli, but he couldn't quite track it. Rollins follows with a sac bunt and the Phillies have a runner on third with one out.
8:46: And Werth comes up big! He lofts a pop-up into shallow center, which would have been a routine out, but the infield was in and Iwanura can't hang on. Remember when he was part of that stellar Rays defense? Neither does he. Phillies lead 3-2 and Joe Maddon turns to the bullpen after just one out from Balfour. J.P. Howell comes in to face Utley.
8:54: Utley goes down swinging on three pitches and now Howard comes up, trying to extend the lead. Joe Buck mentions Howard's prior Game 5 stats as if that part of the game wasn't played 48 hours ago. Howell has Werth picked off before throwing a single pitch to Howard, but Carlos Pena's throw is off the mark and Werth slides safely into second. However, it won't matter as Howard pops out to Evan Longoria to end it.
8:59: The Phillies turn to Madson an inning earlier than usual and it pays off...for the first out. Baldelli takes Madson deep to tie the game. one ever said this would be easy.
9:03: Bartlett singles and Maddon leaves Howell in to bunt, which is fine by me. If they want to give up an out to keep a mediocre reliever in the game than so be it. Especially now that the Phillies best lefties have already batted. Howell lays down the sacrifice and Manuel calls Romero in to face Iwanura.
9:07: Iwanura hits an almost perfectly placed grounder up the middle, but Utley tracks it down. Realizing he has no play at first, he fires home in time to nail Bartlett. Wow. Potential game-saving play right there.
9:09: I'm still in awe of that Utley play. How many second basemen in the league make that play? I'm not talking about athletic ability, but having the baseball IQ and instincts to make a play like that is just phenomenal. You also have to love the pump fake to first. Maybe I should be praising his football IQ instead.
9:11: Burrell starts off the bottom of the seventh with a bang. He comes oh-so-close to a home run, but instead the ball bounces high off the wall and Burrell trots into second with a double. Eric Bruntlett comes in to pinch run and, if all goes well, that would be Burrell's only hit of the series. That man just knows how to pick his spots. I guarantee no one will remember his previous 0 for everything if the Phillies win tonight.
9:15: Tim McCarver criticizes Burrell for not getting a triple. I'm sorry but I'm changing Tim's last name from McCarver to McFly. Hello?? Is anyone in there? Come on McFly, Burrell wasn't getting to third unless there was a contract extension waiting for him. And even then...
9:18: Victorino tries to lay down a bunt but instead gets two strikes. So he does it the old fashioned way, chopping a grounder to first and advancing the runner. Now it's up to Feliz to bring in Bruntlett. Gulp.
9:20: And Feliz comes through, lacing a single up the middle and scoring Bruntlett. What is it with these Phillies? All the regular season goats have become post-season heroes. Speaking of which, here's Carlos Ruiz.
9:22: Ruiz smokes one up the middle, but Iwanura makes an outstanding diving stop and gets the force at second. Romero bats for himself, as the Phillies need someone to pitch the eighth (someone not named Chad Durbin). To his credit, he makes contact, grounding out to second to end the inning. Once again the Phillies have a one-run lead. Can they hold it this time?
9:29: Well so much for that letting Romero bat strategy. Carl Crawford works a full count, then singles into center. And just as I say that, B.J. Upton hits into a tailor-made 6-4-3 double play. We're one out away from Lidge, folks.
9:32: Romero falls behind Pena, missing the first three pitches badly, but he recovers and Pena lines the 3-1 pitch out to left.
9:38: David Price comes in to pitch for the Rays. Price has shown that he has filthy stuff, but also that he's very wild. Rollins belts the 2-0 pitch to deep left, but the wind knocks it down and it settles into Crawford's glove for the first out. FOX shows us the last titles won by Philadelphia teams, painfully omitting the team that broke the curse. The Philadelphia Soul! Come on Joe Buck, throw Bon Jovi a bone!
9:39: Werth goes down looking and FOX reminds us of the curse of William Penn, despite the fact that THE SOUL BROKE THE CURSE! Somewhere in the night Bon Jovi softly weeps.
9:43: Utley walks and then steals second, which is all well and good, but likely useless because Howard would need a hit to score him. I'm feeling a strikeout or a walk here. Then again, if he walks, Bruntlett looms on deck. He homered off Price last time they met. But it won't matter as Howard strikes out. (P.S. I never thought I'd use the words "Bruntlett" and "looms" in the same sentence, except to say "Pat Burrell looms over Charlie Manuel menacingly as he prepares to insert the pinch runner, Eric Bruntlett.") On to the ninth we go.
9:47: Brad Lidge, it's time to choose your fate. Will you be Tug McGraw or another Phillies closer who will remain nameless?
9:50: Longoria pops out to Utley. One down.
9:52: Navarro goes down 0-2, but gets a broken bat single to right field. Maddon inserts Fernando Perez to pinch run. I somehow doubt Lidge is overly concerned about the baserunner. That's fine. Get them at the plate.
9:54: Perez steals second, to no one's surprise.
9:55: Lidge flirts with disaster, as Ben Zobrist hits a liner to right that is snared by Werth. Now Eric Hinske comes up, pinch hitting for Bartlett. One out away.
9:58: Hinske strikes out! Ballgame! Go crazy Phillies fans! It's all over! Lidge strikes out Hinske to end the game and the Philadelphia Phillies win the 2008 World Series! Time to get that champagne flowing!

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