One down, three to go. Another big inning, another huge win. After the Phillies offense looked down and out 4 2/3 innings, Derek Lowe began showing some signs that he was leaving his sinker ball up. Both Carlos Ruiz and Cole Hamels hit back to back singles before Rollins ended the inning with a deep fly out to left. It was this inning that turned the game. It was this inning that seemed to have installed confidence in a lineup that was hitting ground out after ground out.
In the 6th, Shane Victorino busted out of the box and forced a quick throw from Rafael Furcal that sailed over the head of James Loney allowing Victorino to reach second. The next pitch may be one of the historic home runs we talk about for years to come. The very next pitch was an elevated slider that Chase Utley hit into the right field seats to tie the game at 2. Two batter later, Pat Burrell, "Pat the Bat", the most tenured player on this team, gave the Phillies a 3-2 when he hit a line drive into the left field seats. The Phillies were back in it, the crowd was back in it, all behind Hamels and the pitching staff that was in it all along.
Hamels was phenomenal. 7 innings, 2 ER, 6 hits, 8 strike-outs. He allowed early back to bck doubles to Andre Ethier and Manny Ramirez, but he stymed the rest of the lineup only allowing them to get 2 hits all game. Hamels has had an amazing postseason run thus far and it may just line him up for the big pay day that he deserves. In 15 innings of work, he's allowed only the 2 runs he gave up tonight, 8 hits, and has had 17 strike outs. A Whip of 0.73! That is just absolutely filthy.
The bridge to Lidge was completed perfectly by Ryan Madson who is slowly developing into a great set-up man. He has found more velocity in his fastball and he is using it to help set up his change-up, which has looked beautiful since August. Then, Lights Out Lidge closed the door with a 1-2-3 inning to end game 1 of the NLCS.
Chase Utley was due. Hopefully tonight's 2-4 night has really set his head back on the prize. Utley's game-tying home run was his first in 8 career playoff games and it was the biggest home run of his career. For the second straight game, Pat Burrell had the hit that sealed the deal for the Phillies. He told Jimmy Rollins before game 4 against the Brewers that he re-discovered his swing. Hard to disagree with that notion given his performance over the last two games.
Could this be the year? They've battled back from adversity all year. They're a very good team. They're 4 wins away from winning at least 100 games in 2008. I think they can get it done. Still plenty of series, so lets sit back, wear our red, and watch it all develop in front of us.
And here is the rest of it.
NL East Notes: Nola, Braves, Nationals
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