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.
The excitment builds! 2 weeks left in the season and a couple of exciting races are continuing to emerge. Most notably, the NL Wild Card which could have gotten even tighter had Ryan Howard not single handedly scalped the Braves’ 7 game winning streak. Howard crushed a couple of looooong balls (he loves hitting in Atlanta) to fill up a pretty good line; 2-4 2HR 3RBIs. That gives him 40 taters on the year!
The Braves lost a chance to get within 3 1/2 and join the melee with the Marlins (4 back) and the Giants keep snuggling up to the Rockies a little at a time.
It was a good day for Ryan’s… Ryan Roberts had himself a Vin Scully kind of day to help keep Colorado within reach. He was a perfect 2 for 2, with 2 runs, 2 RBIs and 2 walks to boot. Did I mention he plays 2nd? Kinda cool Ryan .. Nice game. Watch his dinger here!
Since we’re talking about 2’s … What about the Twins? I had a notion that Michael Cuddyer was going to do something special in this series and he didn’t waste any time. His 2 run HR was all the Twins needed to close the gap to 3 on the Tigers! Watch out! Cuddyer’s line wasn’t the best.. but it was pretty big. Jason Kubel had a nice 2-4 2R day.. riding home on the heels of Cuddyer’s big blast.
In a game that didn’t have much impact anywhere (except maybe arbitration rooms), The Rays had a couple of great hitting performances from Crawford and Longoria. Carl went 4-5 with 3 runs scored and a Ribby, while Evan hit his 31st HR and posted a 2-4 day with 3 Runs, 3 big Ribeyes and a walk. Two very nice games… but no banana.
How about Miguel Olivo spoiiling any chance of Chicago sneaking into the Central race… this guy’s got 23 dingers… 2 of them yesterday in an 11-0 pasting of the Pale Hose. Miguel put up 6 RBIs!! If nothing else the Royals are gathering a nice collection of young talent and may be on their way up.
One team that refuses to die… and faces the daunting task of playing in the mouth of the league leading sharks of the NL West… the Giants battled to a huge win over the Dodgers on the strength of their little guy. Leadoff hitter Eugenio Velez came up Big! He set the tone with his first at bat, getting to a 3-2 count and then battling off close pitches until he met one. Right on the Sweet Spot. Say Goodbye to My li’l Friend!
Bye Bye baaaaaaaby. A Home Run to lead off the game in that series! Are you kidding? Just what the Giants needed. And did they ever follow suit. Hammering out key hit after key hit to win it 8-4. Eugenio Velez ended up 3 for 5 with that big HR and 2 RBIs, he threw in a couple of runs scored to fill up his line. Awesome! But sorry, you’ve been upstaged by a legend….
Yes, it’s the Ichiro monster slaying Godzilla and the Yankees! What a game! If you’re on the East Coast I’m sure you couldn’t stay awake for the late inning heroics of Suzuki. Down by a run and facing Mariano Rivera in the bottom of the 9th. Ichiro mashed a 2 Run Bronx Bomb to walk off a winner… again! What a night for Ichiro who posted a 4-5 2 RBI night. We can only marvel at this man’s hitting talent. He is simply FUN to watch! Congratulation Ichiro.. .You are Yesterday’s Hitter!
Say what you will about Oritiz’s struggles at the beginning of the year, after last night it’s looking more and more like Big Papi time. With newcomer Victor Martinez exhorting him with every at-bat, Ortiz came through with his first multi-homer game of the year. He hit a solo shot in the 2nd and capped it with a Walk Off liner to right that snuck inside the Pesky Pole. It marked the 10th time in his career Ortiz has ended a game with a Home Run. 9 of those have been with Boston, breaking the franchise record set by the great Jimmie Foxx! Watch the drama by clicking Here!!
Honorable mention: Andre Ethier, Ryan Howard, Bengie Molina