Saturday, September 24, 2005

Getting it done in the end

For the third straight game, the Phillies have won in their last at-bat, this time coming from four runs behind to beat the Cincinnati Reds.

I've written about heroes of the moment and destiny, but this one has me shaking my head.

While I am still skeptical they will win the wild-card, this is a different team than those that folded down the stretch the last couple of years.

It is obvious you agree. Here are some of your blog entries:

From Phillies Nation:

Wow! What else can I say but wow? I mean that may have been the most excited I have gotten while watching a baseball game since 1993. What a roller coaster ride. I mean from Padilla crumbling to Madson continuing to struggle to (and who would have ever thought I would type this) Geary not being available because of a death in his family. It looked like the Phillies were up to their old tricks when they gave up a 6-1 lead and went down 10-6. Keep in mind if they won they were assured of pulling to within 1 game of the wild card lead with Roger Clemens already scratched for his start tomorrow for the Astros.

Just when all looked lost, what do you know, but the ninth inning rolled around. On this current road trip the Phillies have now scored (including tonights game) 26 runs in their last at bat. This has yielded them a 5-2 record so far on the 9 game road trip.

Well as we all know Jimmy Rollins and Kenny Lofton set the table in the ninth tonight and Chase Utley drove them in with a monstrous home run. Then after a questionable K of Bobby Abreu and Pat Burrell striking out on a 3-2 count on a ball way out of the strike zone, The Reds decided to pitch around Ryan Howard (pretty big respect for a rookie). Then stepped up David Bell. A day after he saved the game against the Braves with a great play in the field.

(By the way I apologize for not posting yesterday after a great Braves game, but if I may, let me comment for a second on that game. What was Bobby Cox thinking letting Tim Hudson hit in the bottom of the 8th with one out and a man on third base. I contend that after that move, and Cox "resting" John Smoltz on Wed. night, I think he WANTS the Philles to win the wild card. You see if the Phils win the WC the Braves get to play a Padres team that will win the West with a record of barely .500 at best. If the Astros win the WC thats who the Braves get in round one with the Clemens and Oswalts and Pettites of the world. Not that I am complaining, but just something to think about.)

Tonight instead of the glove, David Bell used his bat to win the game. After working a 3-2 count he hit a two run home run to give the Phillies an 11-10 lead that Billy Wagner would not give up in the bottom of the ninth.

From The Phillies Fan Page:

Phightin' Back!

Houston lost and the Phillies are playing the Cincinnati Reds. The Phillies had to work really hard for this one. And always somehow, someway, the Phillies mange to scratch out a victory. Tonight was no exception. After blowing a 6-1 lead in two awful innings, the Phillies could not stop the Reds offense. In the 5th, 6th, and 7th innings, the Reds scored a total of 9 runs! This all started when Vicente Padilla suddenly lost his touch. He was cruising through the lineup for 4 innings, and then magically lost his command. Up 6-1, he could not get out of the 5th inning. Aaron Fultz had to come in and finish the inning, which ended with the Phillies up 6-5. But that wasn't all; the Reds came back in the next inning and preyed on Ryan Madson (who also hasn't been himself lately). Jacob Cruz led off the inning by hitting the game-tying solo home run. Later in the inning, Jason LaRue hit a two-run homer and it looked like the game was slipping away from the Phils. The damage could have been worse, but the Phillies got a huge gift with the bases loaded. Javier Valentin swung at a 3-2 pitch that hit the dirt, a sure run that got erased.

It proved to be big because once the 9th inning rolled around, it's like the Phillies just turned on the magic once again. Down 9-5, Jimmy Rollins and Kenny Lofton led off with singles off closer Dave Weathers. Then Chase Utley hit a 3-run home run that brought the Phillies within 1 run. But Bobby Abreu struck out on a very curious called third strike. Evidently, Abreu, Myers and Manuel thought the umpire needed prescription eyewear because they all got ejected for arguing that call. Burrell would then strike out (on a swinging strike), but Ryan Howard was issued a 4-pitch walk, perhaps more intentional than unintentional. But David Bell, who has definitely turned his play up a notch this month, hit the game-winning home run! It was a shot that even left me stunned, because the Phillies had just taken the lead. And Billy Wagner closed out the bottom of the inning to bring the Phillies 1 game closer to the Astros. this is definitely a different Phillies team.

From Phillies Foul Balls:

I don't believe it.

I'm trying to put together some sort of coherent sentences about what happened this evening in Cincinnati and I'm at something of a loss for words. Once the Phils got up 6-1 they never should have lost that lead, and then to get 5 in the 9th to win it? With the last two coming on a two-out, two-strike homer by David Bell of all people? Against a right-handed pitcher to boot. That really shouldn't happen. But it did.

In some ways tooking too carefully at this would be a letdown because there were a lot of worrying things in the game and I really don't want to overshadow the glee of that amazing comeback. Most of the playoff chase action has been in the AL this year, but the wild card chase is turning into a heck of a lot of fun.

The Phils are getting some pretty significant breaks at this point as well. Roger Clemens isn't able to go tomorrow for the Astros, which leaves them with Ezequiel Astacio going against Carlos Zambrano, which shifts things very much in the Cubs favor. Tonight the Mets said that if they were officially out of the race by Tuesday (almost certain), they'd sit Pedro Martinez then. While Martinez was shaky in his last outing, I'd still prefer to take my chances with whoever winds up replacing him.

The Phils are still down one game, but at this point you have to think it's possible that they could pull it off. Even if they don't, this is a hell of an impressive stretch run.


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