’80 and ’08
What’s another couple nights when you’ve waited 28 years?
That’s what Phillies fans had to be thinking as they watched their team win the World Series last night, completing the suspended Game 5 by outlasting the tough Tampa Bay Rays, 5-4, and capping off another memorable October.
Here are my final, or should I say Phinal, thoughts:
* The hallmark of this Philadelphia team has to be its resilience, and they showed it right away, getting the go-ahead run in the sixth, answering right back after Rocco Baldelli’s game-tying homer, and leaving it up to Brad Lidge, who has been spectacular all year.
* Can’t say enough about Cole Hamels, a deserving Series MVP. He didn’t get the win in Game 5, but four wins in one postseason is fantastic, and he set the tone for the whole Fall Classic with his pitching in Game 1.
* The Rays are a scary-good team when you consider that most of these guys were in their first October and a lot of the talent in the organization hasn’t even made it to the Major Leagues yet. Boston and the Yankees have a lot to worry about in 2009 and beyond.
Well, that’s it for me. Thanks for participating in my blog throughout October.
I’m going to take a little time off before I start thinking about baseball again.
After all, the Winter Meetings are in less than two months …
Wet and wild
I know we’ve all been saying all along that October never fails to bring things we don’t expect. Well, last night’s Game 5 was a new one for everyone involved.
For the first time in history, a World Series game was suspended, and you have to wonder how the Phillies and Rays feel about it considering where things stand.
Things were looking great for Philly early, with Cole Hamels dealing as usual and Shane Victorino’s first-inning single giving the home team a lead it didn’t look like it would give up:
But the Rays aren’t ready to give up and want to win a game away from home to extend the Series, even if it might take them two days to win that game. They clawed back against Hamels, got a gutsy start from Scott Kazmir, and tied the game up right here:
So now we’ve got at least three more innings of Game 5 at some point, and that’s about all we can figure out at this point.
What time will the game start?
Can the Rays win and take this Fall Classic back to Florida?
The fun part is watching to see what happens.
Game 4: One win away
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.
There’s been a lot of talk about the u30ws, a.k.a. the Under-30 World Series, because 24 players in this Fall Classic are under the age of 30 — and because a new breed of young fans who weren’t even alive when the Phillies last won the World Series (1980) are pumped up about the new team from Philadephia and the upstart Tampa Bay Rays.
Well, I’m here to tell you that the key players in Tampa Bay’s 4-2 win in Game 2 that knotted this World Series with the Phillies at a game apiece were all about u30ws, from Rays starter “Big Game” James Shields to 23-year-old reliever David Price to 20-something RBI men Evan Longoria, B.J. Upton and Jason Bartlett.
Shields put a stop to the momentum the Phillies gained in their road win in Game 1, killing rally after rally with big outs like this one:
Upton didn’t have to hit a homer on this night – he set up the big two-run first inning right here:
And Price bent a little but didn’t break, going more than two innings to close out the first World Series win in Tampa Bay history:
The u30ws hits the road tomorrow, so we can get a little bit of rest before Game 3 — American League Championship Series MVP Matt Garza takes the hill against crafty vet Jamie Moyer — at Citizens Bank Park on Saturday night.
Let’s get some serious conversation going before then.
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.
Rays the roof!
If the cover of Tropicana Field were ever to come off its hinges, it would have happened last night when the Tampa Bay Rays finally knocked off the defending champion Red Sox in the seventh game of the American League Championship Series. Have you ever heard that place that loud? Unreal. What a series. From the epic back-and-forth, five-hours-plus Game 2 to the sick comeback by the Sox in Game 5 to the nail-biter of a Game 7 pitchers’ duel with Matt Garza outpitching Jon Lester and rookie David Price closing it out, there was something for everyone.
And now the Rays go from worst to first to the World Series, with the National League champion Philadelphia Phillies heading to St. Pete for a Wednesday night Game 1 date.
Before we get those blog posts started, here’s a quick rundown of Game 7:
* I wonder how many Boston fans thought it was going to be a rout when they saw my AL MVP this year, Dustin Pedroia, do this to Garza in the first inning:
* I wonder how many Rays fans, including Dick Vitale, breathed a huge sigh of relief when they saw Evan Longoria tie it up:
* And what about Willy Aybar? Seriously … the dude has been raking all October, bringing to mind countless unsung heroes that spring to life at the right time of year.
* Two words. David. Price.
So … let’s get the World Series started already!
Give me your picks and let’s get some discussions going. Only two more days until showtime!
The Red Sox just won’t go away, and their heart, character and ability — not to mention the very good Tampa Bay Rays — is making this American League Championship Series one of the best ever. Saturday night’s Game 6 was tense and tight, with long balls providing the bulk of the scoring and Red Sox starter Josh Beckett doing just enough to get to his dominant bullpen in Boston’s 4-2 win that forces tonight’s winner-take-all Game 7.
Here are a few blog-servations:
* The Rays’ bullpen needs a big rebound, but if starter Matt Garza can tap into the talent that makes him almost unhittable from time to time, the Rays won’t need the bullpen at all.
* Kevin Youkilis is starting to look like he did in the 2007 postseason. Even when he makes an out, which is rare these days, the ball is usually crushed. Expect big things from him in Game 7.
* Jason Varitek might have finally gotten into a groove with that home run, but more important for the Sox is the fact that David Ortiz looks like his swing is back. I’m still waiting for that magic Big Papi moment.
* Regardless of what happens in Game 7, we’ve got ourselves a heck of an American League East rivalry for years to come. Win or lose, the Rays have more than proved they’re for real.
What are your thoughts about Game 7 and beyond? Does the AL have what it takes to beat the Phillies in the World Series?
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 big win away
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.