For the second year in a row, the Phillies will face the Dodgers in the National League Championship Series. The Phils beat the Rockies tonight with a 9th inning, 3-run comeback to win the NLDS series 3 games to 1. It was another nail biter; many fans were calling for the oxygen tank, and not because of the Rocky mountain air.
Early on, this was a pitcher’s duel with Cliff Lee allowing only 1 run though 7 innings. 2 solo homers by Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth were the only scoring for the Phillies at that point. But Lee ran into trouble in the 8th when he walked Dexter Fowler on 3 straight strikes that were called balls; the Pitch Tracker showed the pitches were in the zone and missed by the ump. Nothing new; he missed calls all night long.
But that walk led to big trouble. Todd Helton hit what should have been a double play ball and Jimmy Rollins dropped the feed from Chase Utley, putting 2 runners on with 1 out. Ryan Madson came in and blew the inning wide open for the Rockies. 2 hits later and the Rockies were going into the 9th, at home, with a 4-2 lead. By the way, that was Madson’s second blown save of this series.
In the 9th, Rollins singled and Utley walked to give Ryan Howard 2 runners in scoring position with 2 outs. The Phillies had not had a single hit in the game with runners in scoring position at that point. In fact, they even left the bases loaded twice in the game with 1 out and failed to score. But this team just never gives up and Howard nailed a double to tie the game up. Werth singled to score Howard and, with hearts pounding, the Phillies took the 5-4 lead into the bottom of the inning.
Scott Eyre, seemingly ok after twisting his ankle yesterday, got the 1st 2 outs, but also put 2 men on base. So, Brad Lidge got the call for the final out and faced Troy Tulowitzki, the same batter he got to pop out to end yesterday’s game. Lidge struck him out to win the game and send the Phillies back to the NLCS!
Also worth noting, Ben Francisco replaced Raul Ibanez in left late in the game as a defensive substitution. Ibanez dropped a ball earlier in the game and Charlie Manuel was taking no chances. The move paid off as Francisco made an amazing, diving catch in the 8th that saved 2 runs from scoring.
And now the champagne will flow as the Phillies celebrate their first 2009 post-season series victory. And with any luck, 2 more such celebrations shall follow. Go Phillies!
Photo by Jenn