Do you remember the Clint Eastwood movie “Any which way but Loose?” Well, I’m sure that’s kinda the thought that Jim Tracy and Huston Street had last night as Street took the mound in the 9th. There’s an old saying in baseball: Right Turn… have a seat. Kinda like “Right turn, Clyde!”
That was the hope of the Colorado fans and of Huston Street. Especially after failing to retire the Phils in order the game before and putting the Rockies behind the eight ball. But today was a new day and Hope springs eternal.
Not to mention he had a two run cushion courtesy of a miraculous comeback by the Rockies in the 8th.
The problem of course is that the Phils were also hoping to get on Hope Street and stage a comeback of their own. It’s kind of a two way street in that regard.
You had a feeling though that Street was going to run into some problems. There would be at least one hump in the road in the 9th.
Starting with Jimmy Rollns who already had a hit. Shane Victorino who had a Home Run and Chase Utley who had reached safely 3 times already! Oh, just in case you allow one of those guys to reach… you get the reward of pitching to Ryan Howard and possibly Jayson Werth! No fun…
So when Jimmy Rollins stepped up to the plate it didn’t take long to realize that Huston Street would rather be taking one of these ..
then be forced to face the Modern era version of Murderer’s Row. The heart of the 2008 World Champs. In less than 2 pitches it was clear that Huston Street was pitching “not to lose” instead of pitching “to win”. To the calibre of hitter’s in the middle of the Phils lineup that’s like letting a rabid dog smell fear. Not good.
Rollins took advantage of Street’s tentative approach.. worked the count and then reached base safely on an infield single. Accuracy and Speed.
Victorino chose a different route, perhaps not keying into the fear as well as Rollins did. He chose a right turn. .
One out. Next up the engine of the Phillies machine – Chase Utley. This guy has it all, Power… Accuracy & Speed… coupled with a calm disciplined approach at the plate. He definitely saw Huston’s reluctance to challenge and took advantage.
A big problem in the manner of the NL RBI leader and the primary culprit from Game 3 – Ryan Howard. Ryan didn’t miss a beat and he didn’t miss the meat (ball) delivered by Huston Street. His rocket double over RF Carlos Gonzalez’ head released the speed on the bases.
Rollins and Utley scored and the unbelievable had happened. The game had turned again. Now the score was tied 4-4 and both teams were trying to get here…
The Phils went on to take the series.. an exciting one.. but not what the Rockies had hoped for. They fought one heckuva battle but lost to a very talented World Championship squad. So, who will be holder of the YH crown for the day? Hmmm…. that’s a tough one. I think I’ll have to give it to –
The Usual Suspects!
Home Field Advantage… there’s a reason you want that status. Especially in the Best of 5 Divisional Games. It’s a Major League Advantage ; )
The Home Town teams did not disappoint. The Crowd was a factor in each of the games.
Although, Cliff Lee didn’t exactly need the crowd. He was mesmerizing to Colorado’s hitters. Spot on with locations and adjusting speeds.. up – down, in – out… a masterful job of Pitching.
On the Phillies side of the plate.. they are just relentless. A stacked lineup that features Power, Speed, Power and more Power. Every single player in the lineup (including Cliff Lee) posted a hit in their box score. But it was the meat of the order… 4,5 & 6 that brought home the bacon. Ryan Howard, 2-4 with an RBI from an absolute laced rocket through the wind that turned Carlos Gonzalez 9 different directions. Jayson Werth, 2-4 with an RBI Triple that was as hard and high as you could possibly hit a ball into the crosswind gail. Werth also scored twice and was a menace to the Rockies. Raul Ibanez.. man. They just kept coming at you. Raul was 2-4 with 2 RBIs. It didn’t seem like it was fair – High School Seniors against the Freshmen. Phillies take the nod 5-1 and a 1 Game Lead.
In LA it was an exercise in futility. These two were battering the ball all over the field. They filled the bags so many times between them I was certain YH would come out of this game. It just seemed inevitable that one hit would produce 3 or 4 runs. But… it just never happened. The game ended up setting a Major League Record for Men Left On Base in a 9 inning Post Season tilt… 30 Runners!!!
Rafael Furcal had a great game and set the tone for LA (they barely escaped the top half of
the first inning with only one run across). Raffy led off LA with a sharp single and one pitch later he was trotting around the bases courtesy of Matt Kemp’s towering HR to centerfield. From that point forward it was standing room only on the bases. Fortunately for LA, they were able to squeak across one run at a time as a result of their top 6 hitters. Furcal 3-4 a Run and a Rib, Kemp.. the Big Fly was his only hit. Andre Ethier 2-3, a Walk and 2 Runs. Manny Ramirez… pretty pitiful. But James Loney and Casey Blake picked up the listless Ramirez and were effective hitters all night long. Loney, 2-4 with a Walk. Blake, also 2-4 with a Walk and knocked in a big run in the 3rd to give the Dodgers some breathing room at 3-1.
In the Bronx, it was simply… Out with the Old… In with the New. Same ol’ story for Yankee Stadium (new or old) another Post Season win for New York… ho hum. The Twins though, were surprisingly tough early on. Even to the point of taking a scrappy 2-0 lead in the top half of the 3rd. I’m pretty sure the New Yorkers were a little nervous… the crowd was pretty much taken by surprise when the Twins scored first. Honestly, though.. .how can you worry when without question your team possesses the most dynamic post season hitter of our era…
Derek belted the first pitch he saw in the first inning for a rifle single. He was due up 2nd in the Bottom half of the 3rd inning with NY down by that 2-0 score. No Problem for Mr. October/November/December (whatever)… he just performs when the occasion needs it the most. And it did in the 3rd. What does Derek do 2 pitches later? A Home Run launch.. tie game 2-2. Mr. Clutch…
When you have that fella on your team.. how can you not perform? From then on it was a no contest whipping as every gear fell into place. Including the oft troubled Alex Rodriguez’ post
season issues. History. Alex was a healthy 2-4 with 2 RBIs and a Run scored. Hideki Matsui provided some thunder of his own with a 2 Run Bomb. But it was the Captain.. .
Derek Jeter folks.. you should enjoy this man’s play as though you are witnessing Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Lou Gehrig or Babe Ruth. Those are the names he accompanies on the All Time List for Home Runs in the Post Season. It’s amazing if you think about it. He’s not a power hitter. He is a clutch hitter. Period. A Perfect day at the Plate for Derek; 2-2 2RBIs, 2 Walks, 3 Runs.
Hats off to you Derek Jeter. You are Yesterday’s Hitter… .Without Question.