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.
For the first time in 15 years, the Philadelphia Phillies are in the World Series, and if you don’t believe it, watch this:
When Carlos Ruiz squeezed that final out in Dodger Stadium last night, the Phils had beaten the Dodgers, 5-1, in Game 5, and locked up the National League pennant for the first time since 1993, when they lost a true Fall Classic to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Whoever the Phillies end up playing will have a lot to deal with: Jimmy Rollins showed how dangerous he can be last night, setting the tone for Game 5 with a leadoff homer.
And with NL Championship Series MVP Cole Hamels set to start Game 1 of the World Series, the American League team will have its hands full right away, just like the Dodgers did Wednesday night.
Then there’s the Phillies offense, with table-setters Rollins and Shane Victorino and the heart of the powerful order, with Chase Utley, Pat Burrell and Ryan Howard. Oh, and then there’s Brad Lidge, the closer who hasn’t blown a save all year.
In other words, a lot to think about for the AL manager once he gets his team to where the Phillies are right now.
How do you think the Phillies stack up against the Rays or Red Sox? And will the Rays wrap it up tonight in Boston?
One game down in the Championship Series round and one incredibly dramatic finish already in the books. I wonder if they’ll all be like that. Probably, right?
PHILLIES 3, DODGERS 2
Just when you thought the Dodgers had Game 1 of the National League Championship Series all sewn up in a nice blue bow, the home team made some noise. You absolutely knew there would be some homers rocketing out of tiny Citizens Bank Park, and the locals didn’t disappoint, with Chase Utley and Pat Burrell doing enough damage to hold serve.
The tone was set with great pitching — Derek Lowe and Cole Hamels locked up in a classic October duel — and great defense. And then Brad Lidge continued his perfect season, nailing down another save.
What will happen tonight in St. Pete? Will it be the Rays or Red Sox getting it started on the right foot in the American League Championship Series?
I want to hear your thoughts about anything and everything related to the Championship Series.
Three Division Series Game 1s yesterday and already more than a few surprises. And isn’t that typical of October?
Let’s go game by game.
PHILLIES 3, BREWERS 1
It isn’t surprising that Cole Hamels dealt the way he did, but the Brewers, particularly Yovani Gallardo, showed a lot of poise for a young team that has practically no postseason experience to speak of. If the Brew Crew can clean up a few mistakes, this might become a very competitive series very quickly — especially when CC gets his say. Here’s Chase Utley’s big hit in the third inning.
DODGERS 7, CUBS 2
Now I didn’t expect this one. Who would have thought the best team in the National League would go down at home in Game 1 in the 100th anniversary year of their last World Series title? But James Loney had the big hit, the grand slam in the fifth inning, Manny and Russell Martin homered later, and that was all she wrote. The Cubs will have to regroup in a hurry tonight, but their big horse, the Big Z, is on the hill, so Cubs Nation has to be feeling good about that.
RED SOX 4, ANGELS 1
The Angels had the best record in all of baseball this year and were at home with their ace, John Lackey, in Game 1, but the same old same old happened again — the Red Sox beat them in October. This time it was lefty Jon Lester giving the Angels hitters fits and the newest member of the defending world champs’ outfield doing most of the damage.
Almost too much to blog about, but I want to hear your thoughts. What was the best moment of the first day of October baseball in 2008?
And what’s going to happen tonight as the Rays-White Sox series starts and two other series continue?
Let me know.