The Phillies won the second game of their series with the Rockies, not by a nose or even by the hair of their chins; they won by a toe. It was Todd Helton’s toe, to be exact.
In the bottom of the 9th with 2 outs, the bases loaded and a tie game, Placido Polanco stepped to the plate. He hit a bouncing grounder to short that looked like it might end the game. It did end the game, just not in the way you might expect.
Polanco hustled down the line and, for some unknown reason, veteran Todd Helton suddenly forgot how to play first base. He had the wrong foot back towards the bag and had to juggle his feet around. As a result, his foot was not on the bag by about a toe length when Polanco crossed. Polanco was safe, the runner on 3rd scored and the Phillies won in walk-off fashion.
I am so grateful to Helton’s toe that I decided to write a short poem about it:Ode to the Toe Oh, to the toe Many thanks must go Trying to save face You danced around the base Giving Polanco plenty of time To get down the line The winning run would score As the crowd began to roar So thank you little toe We did so enjoy the show –
The toe, however, was not the only star of the game. The Phillies played with a lot of hustle and enthusiasm, which is something we have not seen too much of this season.
The 9th inning was especially nice to see because of the way the whole situation unfolded. Back in the top of the inning, the Phillies were in a 5-5 tie game with Jonathan Papelbon on the mound. As has been the case in non-save situations, Papelbon faltered and gave up a run.
Then down 6-5 in the bottom of the 9th, the first two Phillies batters went down fast. With 2 outs, it looked like they were doomed. And judging by the season so far, a comeback with 2 outs in the 9th almost seemed impossible.
But then something wonderful happened. The Phillies fought back…finally. This is the moment we have been waiting to witness all year long.
After Ty Wigginton singles, Hunter Pence came up with a clutch double; another rarity this year. Even more impressive, Wigginton tore up the base paths, as if he had a psychic vision that he could go all the way. Without hesitation, Wiggy actually scored from first base to tie the game, 6-6.
After Carlos Ruiz was walked intentionally, Shane Victorino found his happy place again and loaded the bases with a single. Victorino beat out the throw from the short stop by about half of a second. His hustle kept the inning alive.
And you know the rest; Polanco is safe by a toe! Phillies win!
If the Phillies can keep the hustle going and sweep the Rockies tonight, there may be hope for this season yet…
Game time tonight is 7:05pm.
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Victorino photo by Jenn Zambri Photography