By JAY LeBLANC
October 29, 2008
Phillies 2, Rays 2
(Game suspended in bottom of sixth)
Phillies lead series 3-1
The Phillies took a 2-0 lead in the first inning but the visiting Rays battled back and tied the game in the top of the sixth, just before the start of a rain delay that would eventually result in World Series Game 5 being suspended until tonight. Major League Baseball is undoubtedly happy that the Rays were able to knot the game before it was halted, as none but the most ardent Philly fans would have liked to see the Phillies clinch the World Series title in a game that didn’t go the full nine. The game will resume at 8 p.m. EST tonight with the Phillies coming to bat in the bottom of the sixth.
After Phillies ace Cole Hamels retired the Rays in order in the top of the first, the Phillies pushed a pair of runs across in the bottom half. Rays starter Scott Kazmir got leadoff hitter Jimmy Rollins to fly out but then walked Jayson Werth and plunked Chase Utley to put runners on first and second with one out. Ryan Howard fanned for the second out, but Kazmir’s wild ride continued with a walk to Pat Burrell that loaded the bases. Shane Victorino stepped to the plate and delivered a single to left that scored Werth and Utley to make it 2-0 Philly. Pedro Feliz followed with a single to left to jam the bases once again, but Kazmir got Carlos Ruiz on a fly ball to left to limit the damage.
The Rays got on the board in the top of the fourth. Carlos Pena doubled to right with one out and came around to score on an Evan Longoria single to cut Philly’s lead to 2-1. The potential rally ended as quickly as it started, however, as Dioner Navarro followed with an inning-ending double play grounder to short. Philadelphia threatened to add to its lead in the bottom of the frame. Ruiz singled to left with one out, but was cut down at second on a Hamels fielder’s choice. With the rain coming down increasingly harder, Kazmir issued consecutive walks to Rollins and Werth to load the bases. The following batter, Utley, worked the count full before grounding out to second to end the threat.
Kazmir issued back-to-back walks to Howard and Utley to open the fifth, pushing his walk total to six and prompting Rays manager Joe Maddon to summon right-hander Grant Balfour from the bullpen. Balfour extracted the Rays from the jam by retiring the next three Phillies batters in order, and Tampa Bay tied the game in the sixth. After Hamels retired the first two Rays hitters, B.J. Upton reached on an infield single and promptly sprinted through the infield mud to steal second. Pena followed with a single to left that allowed Upton to race home ahead of left fielder Burrell’s throw with the tying run. Pena moved up to second on a passed ball, but Hamels escaped further trouble by getting Longoria to fly out to center.
The field conditions at Citizens Bank Park got progressively worse as the game went on and by the time the Phillies were due to come to the plate in the bottom of the sixth, there were puddles all over the infield. The umpires decided to temporarily halt the game, and the grounds crew rolled the tarp over the infield. When the rain refused to let up, the game was suspended until tonight. Philly will look to secure its first World Series title since 1980, while the Rays will try to survive to play a Game 6 at Tropicana Field.
Jay LeBlanc is an assistant news editor at The Washington Times and mayor of the National Pastime web community. He can be reached at email@example.com.