What a night, what a morning, what a game! And the best part is that it had a happy ending. Note to the Media nay-sayers: This is turning out to be a fabulous series – Dodgers and Red Sox phooey! – the Phils and Rays are putting on a show……….
It started with a bit of small ball in the early innings, then a power display by the Phils to take the lead, then back to small ball as the Rays used a gift from the 1B ump and some aggressive base-running to tie it up late, then finailly, in a stunning (and long overdue) display of execution with RISP, the Phils got a 45-ft walk-off grounder against a drawn in 5 man infield to win it in the bottom of the ninth…………
1. J-ROLL is in the building: Jimmy Rollins finally showed up - Whenever J-Roll starts the game with a hit, the Phils win.
2. Lefty is in the building too Phils Hall of Fame pitcher Steve “Lefty” Carlton who won the final game of Philly’s only World Series title 28 years ago, threw out the first pitch. Game 3 starter for the Phils, 45-year old Jamie Moyer, pitched against Carlton in the 80’s. Seriously!
3. Is the bomber in the building? Big Ryan Howard, who hit 11 home runs in September, finally hit one in October – one month to the day since his last one cleared the fence.
4. Eva is not in the building: Phans were chanting “Eva, Eva, Eva, …” every time Rays star Evan Longoria came to bat. It worked his first couple of at-bats – he swung like Eva with two K’s against Moyer’s slow stuff. But he got a hold of one in the 6th that the wind held up just enough to keep it in the park.
5. And ELVIS is most definitely not in the building either: Home plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth did quite a dance every time he called a third strike, but it won’t win him style points with the hitters who must have felt upstaged by the gyrations. Do you think he practices those moves in front of a mirror?
6. Speaking of umpires…. 1B umpire Tom Hallion cost Jamie Moyer the win and almost cost the Phils the game. Calling Carl Crawford safe at first (when he was out by a half-step) opened the door to two gift runs. There was only one hit in the inning – a double, but with one out and a man on 2nd (instead of 2nd and 3rd and no outs), the two ground-outs that scored the two runners would not have scored any. As tough as this was on Moyer, it is worse for Hallion – Wikipedia already mentions his big blown call – so he will be known for this forever. Lucky for him, this didn’t cost the Phils the game or he would have been shown some very un-Brotherly Love for games 4 and 5.
7. Who’s in, who’s out, who knows – Bottom of the ninth, bases loaded and no one out and Rays skipper Joe Maddon lines up with 5 infielders, 2 outfielders. Unusual strategy but he’s shown that he is a gambler: if the Phils fail here with the ultimate RISP situation, they are psyched out and spooked for the rest of the Series. This could be bad, but…………
8. Chooch hits a pooch: Fortunately, Carlos Chooch Ruiz (who had homered earlier in the game) pounded the ball 45 feet up the third vase line where no one could make a play – Hey! Whatever it takes - The Rays scored all 4 of their runs without a hit, so we’re not too proud to score the winning run on a 45-foot dribbler.
And so, with the ugly RISP jinx finally broken, maybe hits with RISP will come in bunches now. At least, hope is alive in Phan-land…..