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!
Two teams held onto slim hopes of staying in the mix for the ’09 prize when Sunday began… those hopes came crashing down by day’s end. Both the Twins and then the Red Sox were swept out of contention and suddenly find themselves making vacation plans.
“The Season doesn’t wind down. It just comes to a crashing halt.” – Terry Francona
Gardenhire’s Twins were victimized again by the lethal combination of baserunning gaffes and
heads up defense by one of the best field generals to don a baseball uniform. Holding to a life raft and a 2-1 deficit in the 8th inning, Nick Punto ran through a stop sign while Derek Jeter simultaneously punched his ticket. Jeter’s heads up play crushed any chance of a comeback rally and the Yankees pushed Minnesota into the off season.
Rodriguez had the series that Yankee fans hoped for, finishing with 2 HR’s and 6 RBIs. It was Alex that constantly brought the Twins to their knees with clutch 2 out RBIs that buoyed New York to their 3 game sweep. If his bat continues to stay hot, the ALCS should be very exciting to watch.
Colorado’s freezing weather did little to cool off their young outfielder’s bat. Carlos Gonzalez (CarGo) led the Rockies attack in Philadelphia that positioned them for a chance to steal the Home Field Advantage. Carlos continued his stellar play by posting a 3 hit day that included a Home Run and 3 runs scored. He showed Jim Tracy that he was the right choice in the leadoff spot and may ultimately be the spark that turns the series. CarGo walked in the 9th inning and with the entire universe aware he needed to steal 2nd… he did. Very impressive. Watch this kid.
Ryan Howard’s 9th inning Sacrifice Fly pushed across Jimmy Rollins for the winning run and recaptured the advantage in the series. Chase Utley provided the muscle and the drama in the tilt. Utley’s Home Run set the tone for his 3 hit day. With Jimmy Rollins on 2nd base in the 9th inning, Utley dribbled a ball that the umpires missed and reached safely to increase the pressure on the Rockies. Rollins hustled to third and eventually scored on Howard’s deep fly ball. Chase had 2 runs scored and an RBI in the game.
The Sunday shocker was the surprise uprising of the Angels in the 8th and 9th innings against the Red Sox closers. The Halos trailed 6-2 going into the 8th and appeared to be a beaten squad. Unfortunately for Boston, the Californians are led by a man that holds his team accountable for 9 innings of work. And work they did. Scoring twice in the 8th to gather some momentum … California shocked Jonathan Papelbon in the 9th.
Bobby Abreu had a marvelous 3 for 5 day which he capped with his only RBI. His two out double in the 9th inched the Halos closer at 6-5. But it was a career .321 hitter that Papelbon could not defeat that sent the Red Sox home for the winter. Vladimir Guerrero has had post season failures on a number of occasions, but not on Sunday. With the Red Sox choosing to walk Torii Hunter to get to the big man, Vlad did not take long to deliver the decisive blow. His sinking line drive to center field brought in the tying and winning runs and the Boston Red Sox season to a crashing halt.
Congratulations Vladimir Gurrero – You are