The National League entered today’s All-Star Game not having won against the American League since 1996. That win took place in Philadelphia. Manager Charlie Manuel and the Phillies coaching staff had a huge task on their hands for the second consecutive year, trying to win World Series home field advantage for the NL.
Two Phillies took part in the game today; Chase Utley stayed home as he is recovering from surgery on his thumb. Ryan Howard served as the DH and went 0 for 2; but hits were difficult to come by in this game. Through 6 innings, the both teams had only 4 hits each. Two of the hits for the AL came off Phillie Roy Halladay, although one hit was a pop-up that landed in the middle of nowhere and ex-Phillie Marlon Byrd could not quite get to it.
The AL struck first in the 5th as Dodger’s pitcher Hong-Chih Kuo allowed an unearned run after a costly error where he overthrew 1st base on an easy grounder. He had already walked a batter, then the error gave the AL two runners and a sac fly scored Evan Longoria.
But the NL fought back in the 7th. Another ex-Phillie, Scott Rolen, singled followed by a Matt Holliday single. Rolen’s aggressive base running put him on third base. Byrd walked with 2 outs and then Braves catcher, Brian McCann, hit a bases-clearing double to give the NL the lead. Two runs were charged to Yankee Phil Hughes and another to White Sox Matt Thornton.
In the bottom of the 7th, Holliday took a bad route to a ball in left and it went off his glove, giving Blue Jay John Buck a double instead of an out. Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals was pitching but Holliday could not help out his teammate. Shane Victorino could have caught that ball from either left or center…just saying ;o)
So it would come down to the 9th inning. The NL did not score and Manuel brought in another Dodger, Jonathan Broxton, to try and nail down the save and the win for the NL. Broxton gave up a hit right away to the Home Run Derby champ, David Ortiz. He struck out the next batter but gave up a single to Buck. However, with Big Papi Ortiz running, Byrd was able to throw him out at second from right field. That was an amazing, heads-up play by Byrd! The next batter flew out and the National League won it!! FINALLY! A win for the NL! Way to go, Charlie! Now, let see if the Phillies can actually use the home field advantage this year; that, of course, would require a third straight trip to the World Series. Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
But to Wainwright’s credit, he worked out of the inning without allowing a run. Whew! So the NL went into the 8th inning with a 3-1 lead. The NL did not score in the 8th and Giants closer, Brian Wilson, erased the AL batters in the bottom of the inning. Personally, I think the mohawk is his secret weapon.
So it would come down to the 9th inning. The NL did not score and Manuel brought in another Dodger, Jonathan Broxton, to try and nail down the save and the win for the NL. Broxton gave up a hit right away to the Home Run Derby champ, David Ortiz. He struck out the next batter but gave up a single to Buck. However, with Big Papi Ortiz running, Byrd was able to throw him out at second from right field. That was an amazing, heads-up play by Byrd!
The next batter flew out and the National League won it!! FINALLY! A win for the NL! Way to go, Charlie! Now, let see if the Phillies can actually use the home field advantage this year; that, of course, would require a third straight trip to the World Series.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Down 4-5 in Game 4 of the NLCS against the Dodgers, the Phillies were down to their last out and their last 2 strikes when Jimmy Rollins stepped to the plate with 2 runners on. Win, and the Phillies would have a huge 3-1 games advantage. Lose, and the series would be tied 2-2. What took place next was not only improbable, but it absolutely stunned the Dodgers.
Things looked good when the game started and Ryan Howard nailed a 2-run shot in the 1st inning. But the bats went quiet as ex-Phillies Randy Wolf bore down and kept the Dodgers in the game. Joe Blanton started for the Phillies and got roughed up a bit in the middle innings. By the end of the 6th, Blanton had allowed the 2-run lead slip away into a 2-4 deficit.
The bullpen took over in the 7th and held the Dodgers to those four runs. Chan Ho Park, Ryan Madson, Scott Eyre and Brad Lidge got the job done. However, the offense still seemed sleepy after that 11-0 rout the previous day, so a comeback was looking unlikely.
But then Matt Stairs stepped the plate with one out in the 9th and everyone began hoping for the same miracle that occurred in Game 4 of the 2008 NLCS: Stairs nailed a 2-run homer in the 8th inning of that 2008 game to give the Phillies the lead. Could this be a repeat performance?
Well, not quite. Facing the very same pitcher he got that hit off in 2008, Jonathan Broxton, Stairs felt confident. Broxton may not have felt quite as confident as he threw Stairs four straight balls. Eric Bruntlett was put in as a pinch runner. Broxton then proceeded to hit Carlos Ruiz with a pitch.
But Greg Dobbs lined out for the 2nd out and things were looking good for the Dodgers. J-Roll stepped to the plate with one final out remaining and 2 runners on base. With a 1-1 count, Rollins whacked a line drive into the hole in right-center field. Bruntlett and Ruiz tore up the base path, scoring 2 runs to win the game for the Phillies. Phillies fans screamed in celebration while Dodgers fans squirmed in agony.
As amazing and uplifting as this win was for the Phillies, on the other side of the spectrum it was equally as painful and gut-wrenching for the Dodgers. This was a killer blow, putting the Phillies at a 3-1 advantage; they now need only one more win in 3 possible tries to lock up a second consecutive trip to the World Series with a chance to repeat.
This win also shows why the Phillies are the defending World Champions. They believe they will win, they support one another and they never give up until the final out is recorded. To be able to witness this is the greatest joy of any fans life. Repeat or no repeat, Phillies fans should be proud of their team! What a year this has been…and it is not over yet.
Here is the Photo Album from the game…Go Phillies!!!
PS: Thank you to all my readers for making Phillies Phollowers the#1 Phillies fan blog on the MLB site for the entire 2009 season! And I am #8 overall for ALL fan blogs! Your support is greatly appreciated; it is an honor to bring you the Phillies through my eyes…Thank you!
Photos by Jenn