Finally … the World Series!
And this one was a perfect way to get it started. Nine tight, tense innings of October baseball, with pitching, key defensive plays and a few big hits giving the Phillies all they needed to take a 1-0 lead over the Rays. Here are some of my thoughts:
Cole Hamels keeps getting it done, and he didn’t only do it with his pitching, which was obviously spectacular. This pickoff of Carlos Pena stopped some Tampa Bay momentum, which is a big deal in Tropicana Field.
Chase Utley let Scott Kazmir and the baseball world know right away that the Phillies would not let a lot of rest between series cool them off. His huge two-run homer came on an impressive swing against a left-hander and took the crowd out of the game for a while.
What more can be said about Brad Lidge? The guy is looking positively Mariano Rivera-like in his quick ninth innings. Wednesday was no exception.
What do you expect Thursday night from James Shields and Brett Myers? Will the Phillies sweep? I want to hear your thoughts on Game 1 and beyond.
You always see something you’ve never seen when you watch an October baseball game, and Friday night was no different. Let’s recap Game 1 of the American League Championship Series and Game 2 of the National League Championship Series.
PHILLIES 8, DODGERS 5
Who would have thought that Brett Myers would beat the Dodgers — with his bat? Without his 3-for-3 night and three RBIs, he might have lost that game. Instead, the Phillies head out to Chavez Ravine with a 2-0 lead, only two more wins from the World Series. And they’re doing it without much help from Ryan Howard, who’s due to get hot at any moment now. The Dodgers got a three-run homer from Manny Ramirez. Maybe that’s a sign of things to come for the boys in blue.
RED SOX 2, RAYS 0
Another first took place Friday night — the first October baseball game at Tropicana Field in St. Pete. It was great to see that yard packed to the gills, and for the Red Sox Fans who flew south, it was great to see Daisuke Matsuzaka, Hideki Okajima, Justin Masterson and Jonathan Papelbon shut down the Rays in a 2-0 victory that gave their team the upper hand with a pivotal 1-0 victory on the road. Matsuzaka was the man, as he’s been all year, striking out nine in seven shutout frames and repeatedly getting out of trouble. Offensively, it was Kevin Youkilis’ night, with three hits and the insurance RBI late in the game.
The Rays will try to regroup tonight with Scott Kazmir. I’m looking forward to seeing how this lefty stacks up against one of the best postseason pitchers alive, Boston’s Josh Beckett.
Who do you like in this matchup tonight?
I want to hear all about it.
Are you sweating yet? September is getting tight and the pennant races are heating up even more, but three prime-time players made big-time statements that can carry all the way into the Postseason, and I’ve got to give them some October Gonzo blog love.
First up is Big Z, better known as Carlos Zambrano. He hadn’t pitched in 12 days but he served a whole lot of National League notice that he’s ready now and ready for October by no-hitting the Astros in Milwaukee.
Then there’s Big Papi, better known as David Ortiz. He’s been injured for the Red Sox, but he lives for this time of year and he showed the Tampa Bay Rays a thing or two about that Monday in St. Petersburg.
And let’s not forget the Phillies, who are right in the thick of it again. Sunday saw Brett Myers continue his resurgence to the top of his game, throwing a two-hitter against the Brewers and showing he might just be the October ace they always thought he’d be.
A quick shout-out to the thousands of you who voted in the last poll and kept our conversations going. I want to keep hearing all your thoughts about October and who you think will win it all and make the next Postseason memories. It was also good to see that we’re up to sixth in the rankings of the Latest Leaders at MLBlogs. Who knows? Maybe we’ll make it all the way to the top.
But on the field, you can be sure that more history will be made soon, which is why I don’t plan to miss many games between now and the end of the World Series. Only two weeks until October, and I can’t wait.