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
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
Pounding the Rockies into the ground for the second straight game, the Phillies come out with a 7 to 4 win, standing in second place in the NL East. The Mets beat the Marlins for us, and both Atlanta and the Nats lost their games, giving the Phillies a boost in the standings. One more against the suffering Rockies and then we get our shot at taking down the first place Fish!
Kendrick pitched well last night and improved over his last start, going 7.1 innings with 2 earned runs given up and 5 strikeouts. Having a 7 run lead helped his confidence, I’m sure, but whatever works, we’ll take it. He needs more performances like this one. Tom Gordon made everyone a bit queasy as he took over in the 8th inning and barely made it out in one piece. J-Roll saved his hide with a diving grab to get out of the inning and send it over to Lidge after a rain delay.
As for Brad Lidge…oh my! Turns out, he is not a robot after all. He actually surrendered a run! Gasp! Be still my beating heart….how dare he! I am shocked. Well, I suppose if he absolutely HAD to do it, he may as well have chosen this game while cushioned with a giant lead. Damn that Todd Helton and his ridiculous “I am pretending to be a grown man” facial hair! Don’t be messing with my boy’s ERA like that! Your team sucks this year; now just put your head down like a good puppy and pout. None of this 9th inning heroic crap…geez!
Speaking of hair, did anyone see the “4 Questions” segment with Chase Utley on Daily News Live on Comcast SportsNet before the game last night? One of the questions Michael Barkann asks him is why he never has hat head. Michael goes so far as to refer to Chase’s hair as “…a perfect, big, flowing, bushy head of hair…” at all times. Now, I have made MANY comments on Chase’s hair at games and I can tell you, it is neither “flowing”, nor “bushy.” In fact, it is always wet and slimy looking! He constantly has it slicked back with, what I always assumed to be, some kind of super powered gel. And for what reason I also assumed, would be to keep it out of his face. Well folks, we now have the answer! It is in fact, and I quote Chase directly, “gel, super gel…LA Looks.” And here is a nice photo that I took to demonstrate the wet and slimy “super gel” effect:
Now, after games, he looks great. Perhaps less gel or less sweat blended with the gel? Not real sure what is going on there. Well, I have more interesting information to report on the “4 Questions” segment, but I am saving that for later :o) That’s all for now! Hoping for a sweep of the Rockies…Go Phillies!
UPDATE: This just in! Chase Utley is in the lead in the early vote count for All-Star Voting with 537,788 votes! Yeah! So, fun story for you…during the LONG, horrible like 3-hour rain delay of the 5/18 game, and, sad, sad loss to the Blue Jays, I spent the entire length of both rain delays sitting in the Diamond Club punching All-Star ballots. Yes, people starred at me like I was nuts as the hanging chards began to pile up, but I was not deterred! I was determined! Determined to get my Phillies to the All-Star game and determined to find SOMETHING to do to kill the boredom! Ah, rain delays are fun J Why did no one else think of this? Well, I filled out at least 100 of those suckers…I even devised a way to pile several of them together, line them up and punch them up with a pencil all together to get more done at one time. I was so proud, I photographed my messy table (see photo to left).
The child next to me stared strangely as he painted his “Paint A Phanatic” doll and I believe his mother tried to explain to him that I was some sort of “special-ed” case… *sigh!* Have they no sense of humor?! Well, Mr. Utley can thank me later. J Keep voting everyone! Let’s see if we can get a few more guys in there too!