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
Cliff Lee had an up and down month of September, but with a clean slate in October, all is well again. Lee pitched a complete game and led the Phillies to a 5-1 win in Game 1 of the NLDS over the Rockies. He had a shut-out going into the 9th inning.
In a post-game interview, Lee admitted to getting distracted when he took a moment to soak in the crowd and the atmosphere, which led to a Troy Tulowitzki double to score a run with two outs in the inning. While both Lee and the crowd were disappointed about the lost shut-out, that disappointment lasted only a few moments as Lee stuck out Garret Atkins to end the game.
The first 4 innings were tense as the Phillies hitters were shut down by pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez. But in the 5th, they figured him out and pounded out 5 runs in two innings. High winds kept a few balls in the park and the field was littered with bags, wrappers and a small dust storm, but they managed to hit through it. Every player in the line-up, including Lee, had at least one hit in the game. The middle of the line-up, Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez, had 2 hits apiece and combined for 4 RBI. The Phillies also racked up 3 doubles, 1 triple by Werth and 3 stolen bases.
Shocking everyone, including manager Charlie Manuel, Cliff Lee stole one of those 3 bases. The man did everything tonight; he hit, he ran and he pitched the entire game. Looking around the ballpark, I actually saw a t-shirt that said “Thank-you, Indians.” I think we can all agree with that sentiment.
So Cole Hamels will pitch Game 2 tomorrow and he will have a LOT on his mind. Not only is he starting a play-off game, but his wife is pregnant with their first child and she is due right NOW. Seriously, she could pop at any second. We should all say a collective prayer that she can hold that baby in until at least Friday.
I just read an interesting article about Hamels as well. It seems that he too is cheesed over the crappy start times for this series that we all got stuck with. Beat writer Todd Zolecki quoted Hamels as saying, “Being the defending world champs, I think it’s kind of a little weird that we kind of get both games at 2 o’ clock. I don’t think it’s fair. I definitely don’t think it’s fair for the fans because this is all about the home-field advantage or just baseball in general.” For once Cole, I completely agree.
Not only did thousands of people have to ditch work to attend the game, but thousands of kids skipped school as well. Sadly, the education system took a big hit today and probably will again tomorrow. In fact, today’s game was host to the largest crowd in the history of Citizens Bank Park: 46,452. We will see if that is surpassed tomorrow. Game time is 2:37pm….ugh.
Here is the full Photo Album from the game today. Go Phillies!
Photos by Jenn
I was pondering this question a lot during the season and now that things have slowed down a bit, I came up with the answer: The Team Mom. Seriously. Part psychological counselor, part emotional cheerleader – it’s what every team needs and does not have. Ok, so we don’t have to call this position “Team Mom” but how about “Spiritual Counselor” or “Spirit Coach.” I think I like the last one best; mentally, it makes this person part of the “team.” Think I am a crazy, hormonal female yet? Read on…
It is a scientific fact that women are better communicator’s than men, among the many differences arising from our brain structure. Men are better at mechanical issues. In short, we handle emotional situations very differently. To quote evolutionary psychologist, Satoshi Kanazawa, “Women’s greater empathizing and mentalistic skills are the primary reasons why they are better at languages and why they are better judges of character. Women also dominate primatology, which, like mothering of infants, requires understanding and reading the minds of individuals with whom they cannot communicate by language.” So what does baseball need? Women!
After watching all the emotional outbursts and fighting we see on the field, why doesn’t each team have a “Spirit Coach”? Or some sort of counselor to calm these guys when the testosterone goes haywire? A women would be best suited as men usually take emotional advice better from females and they respond to the softer approach in those situations. And no PhD required…in fact, I think that would be intimidating to many. So, it should be just a smart person who knows baseball really well and has experience handling children. No, I am not saying that baseball players are children. But if you can handle kids, you are likely a patient and kind individual who can react in seconds if needed. These are very useful skills to have when a guy starts screaming and throwing things in the dugout.
It would be a real asset to have someone around that guys can air their emotional baggage to, without feeling their manhood is in question. Most men will not talk about the “sensitive” issues with other men, even a coach or a friend, for fear of looking weak or other repercussions. But send a mother figure to empathize with them and they turn to mush. It is also a scientific fact that talking out your problems not only helps with the issue, but reduces stress and enhances job performance. Think of it as a legal “Performance Enhancing Drug.” :O) How many more hits would a player get if he was relaxed and happy all the time? Instead of worrying about how you will perform, you can have the confidence to know you will do well. This all comes with inner peace, which cannot be achieved in a stressful environment with no healthy way to vent your emotions.
I vent my emotions through writing and many of you have been the recipients here of self-induced therapy :O) Writing is a healthy expression; punching a guy in the face or breaking your bat in half is not.
MLB should care for every player’s emotional well-being in addition to their physical well-being. Last year, the Rockies Troy Tulowitzki lost playing time after he slammed his bat and shards of wood cut his palm open. Shawn Chacon of the Astros had an extreme emotional outburst and actually attacked GM Ed Wade, choking him (although, we have all had this particular thought once or twice :O). He was suspended for the rest of the season. Player Carl Everett has been ejected, suspended, restrained and even banned from Winter Ball due to his many outbursts throughout the years. Do you think these guys could have benefited from a little emotional coaching?
If nothing else, this is protection on your investment. Teams pay players millions of dollars. Why risk a guy cutting his own hand by breaking a bat who then won’t be playing, but you will still be paying him, when you can take steps to prevent this? Hellooo?
Actually, this has just been a long, drawn out job application for me :O) Really, I am perfect for this position. Tell me all your problems…everyone else does. :O) Hey Phillies, just think “Brett Myers.” I am the solution. Call me. Hee! ;o)