I heard Sal Paolantonio on the radio earlier this week saying he got a ticket for game five and sat through the cold and rain because he wanted to see how it feels in Philadelphia when the Phillies win the World Series. It feels good. It feels like a lot of things. In this case, especially, it feels like relief.
The difference between this Phillies team and so many of the teams of the past is that for this team, even if you wouldn’t quite let yourself believe it until you saw it, instead of waiting to see them lose we’ve been waiting to see them win.
It was a magnificent run for the best Phillies team in a long time — 13-3 to end the regular season followed by an 11-3 drive through the playoffs. After a loss to the Marlins on September 10, the Phils were 79-67 and 3 1/2 games back in the NL East with 16 games left to play in the regular season. They started a four-game set with Milwaukee just about needing to take three of four or be done for the season. They are 24-6 since.
It’s a fantastic and fitting ending for a group of players who are just about as selfless as a team can be. Time after time this year, we saw players do what was right for the organization with hardly a word of protest. From Brett Myers going to the minors, from Pat Burrell taking a quiet seat in the seventh inning time after time to Geoff Jenkins losing his job in right field without a peep except to say that he was going to keep working and playing hard. For a long time now there has been a team-first approach that defined this group of players.
The most impressive thing is not that Jenkins and the rest of his teammates said those things, it’s that they did them. Last night’s finish was a telling testament to that. Jenkins has had as miserable a season as you can imagine, but his double to the gap in right center to start the bottom of the sixth is about as big a hit as you can have. It was his third hit since August 22. Pat Burrell put up yet another solid year for the Phils, but was an ugly 0-for-13 in the World Series before he doubled high off the wall in center to start the seventh. Unlikely hero Pedro Feliz poked the game-winning single through in the seventh. Likely hero Brad Lidge was lights out yet again in the ninth, culminating a team effort that saw the Phils win their final game of 2008 in the way they played the rest of them.
The Phillies won the World Series last night, beating the Tampa Bay Rays 4-3. The Phillies win the series four games to one.
Cole Hamels got the start for the Phillies and allowed two runs on five hits and a walk over six innings. One of the hits went for extra-bases, a double. He struck out three.
He faced a Tampa Bay lineup that went (1) Akinori Iwamura (2B/L) (2) Carl Crawford (LF/L) (3) BJ Upton (CF/R) (4) Carlos Pena (1B/L) (5) Evan Longoria (3B/R) (5) (6) Dioner Navarro (C/S) (7) Rocco Baldelli (RF/R) (8) Jason Bartlett (SS/R). Crawford moves up to second in the order from fifth. Upton drops to third and Pena to fourth. Baldelli starts in right after Zobrist started game one against Hamels.
The Rays started the game with six players on their bench: Michael Hernandez (R), Ben Zobrist (S), Willy Aybar (S), Fernando Perez (S), Eric Hinske (L), Gabe Gross (L).
Iwamura led off the first and flew to left on a 1-2 pitch for the first out. Crawford lined the first pitch of his at-bat to short. It popped out of Rollins’ glove, but Rollins picked it up and threw to first to nip Crawford. Upton grounded an 0-1 pitch to short to set the Rays down.
Seven pitches in the inning for Hamels.
He started the second up 2-0. Pena led off and bunted the first pitch, but too hard. Howard took it at first and beat Pena too the bag for the first out. Longoria swung at the first pitch, too, and flew to center. Navarro was next and drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch, but Baldelli popped to second to leave him stranded. Ten pitches in the inning had Hamels at 17 for the game.
Bartlett started the third with a long at-bat that ended with him grounding to short. Hamels struck the pitcher Scott Kazmir out on three pitches for the second out, but Iwamura lined a single back through the middle for the first hit for the Rays. Crawford again swung at the first pitch and grounded to second. Sixteen pitches in the inning, 33 for the game.
Upton chopped a 1-1 pitch to deep short to start the fourth. Rollins made a strong throw to get Upton for the first out. Pena was next and he hit a ball high off the wall in right field that Werth nearly caught at the wall. Pena had a double and came in to score when Longoria followed with a single past a diving Rollins and into left-center. Pena’s run cut the Phillies’ lead to 2-1. Navarro got ahead 3-0, but grounded a 3-1 pitch to short and the Phils turned the double-play to end the frame. Hamels threw 13 pitches in the inning and had thrown 46 for the game.
Werth had a good chance to catch Pena’s ball at the wall. He jumped high enough to catch it, just missed it with his glove.
Pena and Longoria finally break through with a pair of hits, and it gets Tampa Bay a run.
Hamels started the fifth after being hit on the hand while trying to bunt in the bottom of the fourth. Baldelli led off and popped a 2-0 pitch high to short. Rollins parked under it, but the wind blew it and Rollins had to come in. The ball went off the heel of his glove for an error. Bartlett was next and hit a broken-bat ground ball to second. Utley made a great play. He charged and made a spinning tag on Baldelli as he went past for the first out, then threw to first to double-up Bartlett. Kazmir again struck out on three pitches to set the Rays down. Nine more pitches for Hamels, 55 for the game.
Iwamura struck out looking 2-2 for the first out in the sixth. Crawford chopped a 1-0 pitch to first for the second out. Upton hit a 2-2 pitch to the left of Rollins. Rollins moved to his left and got a glove on the ball, but Upton had an infield single. It brought up Pena with the field in miserable condition and cold rain continuing to fall. Upton stole second as Hamels delivered strike one to Pena. Pena hit a 2-2 pitch the opposite way, into left field for a single. Upton came around third and slid in safe just ahead of Burrell’s throw, which was on line but a little late. The game was tied at 2-2. Longoria was next and swung at a low 1-0 pitch that Ruiz failed to catch, allowing Pena to move to second. Longoria flew to center on the next pitch, leaving Pena stranded.
Even with the field in good condition, I think Upton’s ground ball to short may have been a hit. The weather was certainly a factor in the inning, but you have to wonder if Hamels’ hand may have been as well after he was hit on the hand trying to bunt in the fourth.
Hamels threw 21 pitches in the inning and had thrown 76 for the game.
And then the game was suspended. It started again two days later. Really.
Madson came out to pitch the seventh with a 3-2 lead. He got ahead of Navarro 0-2 and struck him out looking at a 1-2 fastball on the inside corner for the first out. Baldelli was swinging at the first pitch and lined it out to left field, tying the game at 3-3. Bartlett was next and he singled into left on an 0-1 pitch. With one out and a man on first, the Rays let Howell hit for himself. Howell bunted back to the mound and Madson threw to first for the second out as Bartlett went to second. Iwamura was next and Romero came in to pitch to him. Romero got Iwamura to hit a ground ball to the right of Utley. Utley fielded the ball with his momentum taking him behind second and had no chance to get Iwamura at first. Bartlett stormed around third and tried to score. Utley made an awkward throw, a little up the third base line, but Ruiz took it and tagged out the sliding Bartlett to end the inning. Very aggressive by Bartlett, who would have been out by a lot if Utley had time to set and make a better throw.
Bunting with Howell, who faced one batter in the bottom of the seventh, who doubled, before leaving the game was a gift. That’s a bad decision.
Romero came back for the eighth with the Phils again ahead, this time 4-3. Crawford led off with a single into center. Romero stayed in to face the righty Upton with the lefty Pena on deck. Upton swung at the first pitch and hit a double-play ball to short. The Phillies turned it easily, even with Upton running this time. Pena got ahead 3-0 before he lined a 3-1 pitch to Bruntlett, who ran for Burrell in the bottom of the seventh and stayed in to play left, in left for the third out.
Romero stays in to face the righty Upton and gets a huge double-play. Other choices included bringing in Lidge to get six outs and bringing in Condrey or Durbin to face Upton and then Eyre to face Pena. Worked out pretty well.
Lidge started the ninth with the Phils still up a run. He got ahead of Longoria 0-2 before Longoria popped a 2-2 pitch to Utley for the first out. Navarro got behind 0-2 as well, but he shattered his bat singling into right on the next pitch. Fernando Perez ran for Navarro at first and switch-hitter Ben Zobrist hit for Baldelli. Perez stole second, putting the tying run in scoring position, but Zobrist lined a 1-2 pitch to right for the second out. Perez held second and Hinske hit for Bartlett. Hinske fouled Lidge’s first pitch off and tried to check his swing at the second pitch, but couldn’t. The 0-2 pitch was a slider away. Hinske swung and missed and the game was over.
The Phillies pen went three innings in the game allowing a run on five hits. The run scored on the Baldelli homer off of Madson in the seventh. In the series they allowed two runs in 11 2/3 innings. Both runs were earned, so their ERA as a group was 1.54.
Phillies starters allowed 13 runs in 32 1/3 innings. Twelve of the runs were earned (3.34 ERA).
Tampa Bay relievers threw four innings and allowed two runs. They allowed ten runs in 16 1/3 innings in the series. Nine of the runs were earned, which puts their ERA as a group at 4.96. The three lefties out of their pen combined to allowed six runs in 6 2/3 innings.
Tampa Bay starters allowed 14 runs in 25 2/3 innings, 12 of which were earned (4.21 ERA).
Upton was 5-for-20 (.250) in the series with five singles.
Longoria 1-for-20 (.050) and struck out nine times.
Crawford 5-for-19 (.263) with two home runs.
Iwamura 5-for-19 (.263) with a double.
Navarro 6-for-17 (.353) with a double.
Pena 2-for-17 (.118) with a double.
Bartlett 3-for-14 (.214).
The Phillies lineup against lefty Scott Kazmir went (1) Rollins (2) Werth (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Victorino (7) Feliz (8) Ruiz.
The Phillies started the game with six players on their bench: Bruntlett (R), Taguchi (R), Coste (R), Dobbs (L), Stairs (L) and Jenkins (L).
Rollins flew to left for the first out in the first. Werth was next and he walked on a 3-2 pitch that was outside. Kazmir’s first pitch to Utley hit Utley in the back. It put two men on for Howard, but Howard struck out swinging 1-2 for the second out. Burrell walked on a close 3-1 pitch, loading the bases for Victorino. Victorino lined a 2-1 pitch into left for a single, scoring Werth and Utley to put the Phils up 2-0 with men on first and second. Feliz was next and he went down and hit a low 0-1 pitch into left for another single. Everyone moved up a base and the Phils had the bases loaded again. Ruiz swung at the first pitch and flew to left.
Burrell had no chance to score on Feliz’s hit, which was right at Crawford. He may, however, have had a chance to go to third on Victorino’s single, which forced Crawford to move towards the left field corner. If he had gone to third on Victorino’s single he would have scored on Feliz’s.
Kazmir struck Hamels out on three pitches to start the second. Rollins flew to right on a 3-2 pitch for the second out. Werth followed with a single into left, but Utley popped to third to end the inning.
Howard struck out again, this time on three pitches, for the first out in the third. Burrell flew softly to right on a 1-1 pitch for the second out. Victorino struck out on three pitches for the third out.
Quick nine pitch inning for Kazmir, who had thrown 57 through three innings.
Feliz struck out swinging 0-2 to start the fourth. Ruiz was next and singled into left. Hamels came to the plate and showed bunt. Kazmir’s first pitch to him was inside and hit him on a finger of his left (pitching) hand as he held the top part of the bat. Hamels did bunt the next pitch, but too hard back to the mound. Kazmir took it and threw to second to force Ruiz. Kazmir walked Rollins on a 3-2 pitch to put men on second. Werth followed with another long at-bat, walking on the tenth pitch on a 3-2 offering that was low and outside. It loaded the bases for Utley. Utley got ahead 3-1 and took strike two on the inside corner before he grounded to second to leave the runners stranded.
Ninety pitches for Kazmir through four innings.
Howard led off the fifth and walked on four pitches. Burrell was next and he walked as well, getting two calls on pitches that were very close, including the 3-2 pitch. Grant Balfour came in to pitch to Victorino. Victorino bunted the first pitch foul, then swung away and popped to left for the first out. Feliz popped an 0-2 pitch to Pena for the second out. Ruiz popped up to Pena as well and both runners were left stranded.
No infield fly rule called on the pop-up by Feliz after Rollins was unable to field a pop-up on the infield in the top of the inning.
Nothing for the Phils after putting their first two runners on base.
After the top of the sixth inning, the game was suspended.
Play resumed on Wednesday night, two days later. Really it did.
Jenkins left off the bottom of the sixth and Balfour stayed in to pitch to him. He got behind 1-2, but battled back and blasted a 3-2 pitch to right-center for a double. Rollins bunted him to third for the first out. Werth was next and he popped a 2-2 pitch behind second. Iwamura went back and tried to make an over-the-shoulder catch in shallow center, but dropped the ball. Werth had a single, Jenkins scored and the Phillies led 3-2. Jenkins probably would have scored even if Iwamura had caught the ball. Howell came in to pitch to Utley and struck him out for the second out. Werth took off for second with Howard at the plate, but left too early. Howell threw to first, but Werth beat Pena’s throw to second. Howard popped to third to leave him stranded.
Everyone knew that Rollins was going to bunt. There is little chance he would bunt in that situation in a regular game. Presumably the Phils are trying to win both.
The lefty Howell was still in the game when Burrell came to the plate in the bottom of the seventh with the score tied at 3-3. Burrell blasted a 1-1 pitch deep to center and off the top of the wall, just missing a home run by about a foot. The ball bounced off the wall and rolled a while towards right field, but Burrell could only get two. The ball looked like it was gone, and Burrell might have thought it was as well. He may have been at third if he had been running hard all the way. Bruntlett ran for Burrell at second. Chad Bradford came in to pitch to Victorino. Victorino tried to bunt twice and failed, missing one pitch and fouling off another. He swung away 1-2 and grounded to first for the first out, moving Bruntlett to third. The Rays brought the infield in, and Feliz hit an 0-1 pitch back through the middle. Bruntlett scored and the Phils were up 4-3. Ruiz was next and he hit a ball hard back up the middle, but Iwamura made a nice diving play to take a hit away from him and force Feliz at second for the second out. Romero hit for himself and grounded to second to end the inning.
Bunting for Howell in the top of the seventh so he can come back to pitch to the righty Burrell is just baffling to me.
Romero appeared in 81 games for the Phillies this season and did not have an at-bat. No objection to letting him hit with two outs and a man on first, but that isn’t the way the Phillies would have done it in a regular game.
David Price started the eighth with the Phils still up 4-3. Rollins flew to left for the first out. Werth went down looking at a 2-2 fastball on the outside part of the plate. Utley drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch and stole second. Again Howard came up with a man on second and two down. This time he struck out swinging 3-2.
Rollins was 0-for-3 with a walk in the game. 5-for-22 (.227) with two doubles and a walk in the series.
Werth 2-for-3 with two walks and an RBI in the game. He drove in Jenkins in the sixth with his bloop to center that Iwamura didn’t handle. 8-for-18 (.444) with three doubles, a home run and six walks in the series.
Utley was 0-for-3 with a walk and five men left on base in the game. Kazmir got him to ground to second with the bases loaded and two down in the fourth. 3-for-18 (.167) with two home runs and five walks in the series.
Howard was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and a walk in the game. 6-for-21 (.286) with a double, three home runs and six RBI in the series. He struck out nine times and led the Phils in both strikeouts and RBI.
Burrell 1-for-2 with a double and two walks in the game. 1-for-14 (.071) with five walks in the series.
Victorino was 1-for-4 with a two-run single in the first. 5-for-20 (.250) with five singles and two RBI in the series.
Feliz was 2-for-4 with a huge RBI in the seventh. 6-for-18 (.333) with six singles in the series.
Ruiz 1-for-4 and left six men on base, most notably flying out to left with the bases loaded and two down in the first. 6-for-16 (.375) with two doubles and a home run in the series.
Phillies hitters drew 27 walks in the series. The Rays drew ten.
No game today. Nobody left to play. Cole Hamels faces TBD in April, 2009.