The Phillies dominated the Rays in Game 4 on Sunday night, and they’ve the huge World Series lead and all the momentum on their side with their best starting pitcher, Cole Hamels, all lined up for what Phillie fans hope will be a home clincher on Monday.
Hard to name the biggest moment for the Phillies on Sunday, so here’s two:
And here’s a third:
There was one more home run by Jayson Werth, but the way the Phillies pitched it didn’t matter at that point.
The bottom line is that the Rays have gotten absolutely nothing in this Series from Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria, and if those two don’t start hitting against Hamels, it’s over.
Then again, the Phillies have three wins, not four, so, as we all know, it’s not over yet. It isn’t over in October until the final out.
Can the Rays come back? Let me hear your thoughts.
If that game wasn’t worth the wait, I don’t know what is. Seriously, it was almost 2 in the morning in Philadelphia when Eric Bruntlett scored the winning run in the Phillies’ 5-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays, and I was wide awake taking it all in. I’m sure you were, too.
Here are some thoughts:
* What can you say about Jamie Moyer? Dude’s going to be 46 years old next month and flat-out did his job. Too bad he didn’t get that call on the diving play at first base. He deserved it, right?
* This following clip is something that we’ve all been waiting for and something the Rays probably don’t want to see again this October.
* Either credit the Phillies’ pitching or say the Rays’ hitters left their bats in the American League Championship Series, because Evan Longoria and Carlos Pena have been absolutely silent so far in this World Series. They better get that figured out soon.
Good matchup coming tonight in Game 4, with two crafty right-handers in Tampa Bay’s Andy Sonnanstine and Philly’s Joe Blanton. Neither guy can overpower hitters, so they rely on location, deception and old-fashioned moxie. I like watching guys like that.
Let me know what you think.
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.
The Rays have put on an unbelievable display of offense over the last three games of the American League Championship Series, but the Red Sox aren’t finished yet. Just ask anyone on the 2004 Yankees or the 2007 Indians. On to Tuesday night’s remarkable Game 4:
RAYS 13, RED SOX 4
It’s hard to pick highlight clips of the Rays’ explosion of runs, but Carlos Pena’s first-inning homer set the tone. The quiet first baseman might not be getting the headlines this October like teammates B.J. Upton and Evan Longoria, but he’s been a constant in the heart of the order when he’s been healthy, and he showed why he’s so valuable last night.
Still, you can’t underestimate the importance of pitching, even in a blowout win. Andy Sonnanstine has been another unsung hero for this team, and he shut down Boston hitters all night, making him 2-0 this postseason.
And then there’s the Rays’ defense, which has been fantastic all year and was as slick as ever in Game 4.
But one thing kept gnawing at me at the end of the game, while I was watching a silent Fenway Park empty out onto Yawkey Way.
These are still the Boston Red Sox and this is still the ALCS. The Sox have been here before and the Rays haven’t. The Sox came back from a 3-1 deficit to Cleveland last year and the memorable 3-0 deficit to the Yankees in 2004. The Rays have to keep the pressure on and put them away, because they won’t go down easily.
Do you think the Rays will wrap it up in Boston on Thursday night or send it back to St. Pete?
Let me hear your thoughts.
Check your watch or your BlackBerry or your computer or just rip down the old-school calendar from the fridge. We’re officially in late August, and you know what that means: Less than 40 games until the postseason. Now check the standings. Do a few things surprise you as much as they surprise me?
Tampa Bay is not only still there in the American League East, but they’re still there over the Red Sox AND the Yankees. They’re banged up but a good team’s a good team. Still plenty of September games in the division that will give them the ultimate test, but who would have thought they’d be this good this late in the season? It’s the story of 2008 in my book, and with sluggers like Carlos Pena starting to heat up, who knows how far they could go?
There are serious pennant power plays brewing in the National League West and American League Central. Toss a coin to separate the Diamondbacks and Dodgers in the NL and the Twins and White Sox in the AL.
There are lots of things to like about all four teams and lots of reasons to watch all of their games down the stretch, but since we’re talking surprises, man, how about those Twins? They trade Johan to the Mets, Silva leaves for the Mariners, Torii goes to the Angels, and there they are, still contending. And now they have Francisco Liriano back? That’s just filthy.
Yup, everywhere I look, there are surprises, like in L.A., for example. Joe Torre’s Dodgers were looking like a solid team for most of the year, but all of a sudden Manny Magic starts spreading like wildfire throughout the Ravine and everyone’s thinking World Series. Just ask Andre Ethier if he can feel it like I do.
Big moments and bigger plays, and it only gets more intense by the day. Get comfy on that sofa. We’ve still got a quarter of the season to go …
Here’s a trio of random O.G. blog-servations from the heat of early August… only seven weeks from October, but who’s counting?
*Have you been watching the Cubs? Signs throughout Wrigley say “It Will Happen,” and I can’t really argue when I watch these guys play. Sweet Lou has them feeling it, Ryan Dempster’s out of his mind, and Kerry Wood’s coming back, too. They’ve pulled away from the Brewers a little bit and might be ready to finally give the North Side some World Series championship love for the first time in exactly 100 years.
*No matter how you feel about the Yankees (and I think I know how a lot of you outside New York feel), it’s a bummer that Joba’s hurt. The Yanks already don’t have Chien-Ming Wang and Phil Hughes right now, so now we’ll see what this kid Ian Kennedy is made of. We might also get a Carl Pavano sighting soon. Who knows? Maybe the fresh arms will get the Bombers back on top. Stranger things have happened in October.
*I’ve got one more for you and it’s got three words: Tampa Bay Rays. OK, two more words: Still there. These guys keep winning games in crazy fashion, they’re absolutely ridiculous at home, and their manager, Joe Maddon, has them believing there’s nothing they can’t do. I’m here to tell you that when you have a little confidence, you can rule the postseason — even if you’ve never been there before. Joe saw it close up when he was the bench coach of the ’02 Angels. And now he’s got Evan Longoria and Carlos Pena. That doesn’t hurt, either.
More coming soon as we march toward October memories… are you getting fired up?