Writing this blog Saturday night would have been ideal, considering that by default the Mets would have already choked at least one race away with the Phillies clinching the division with their thrilling 4-3 victory over the Washington Nationals. Although Brad Lidge almost gave me a heart attack with the most thrilling half of an inning ever known to Philadelphia baseball, without a doubt. So it was decided to wait until Monday, in order to not only cover the Phillies season finale, but to cover the Mets blowing BOTH races...
By virtue of the Phillies 8-4 win Friday night coupled with a Mets loss, the Philadelphia Phillies had a 2 game lead with 2 to go heading into Saturday. Last year, the Phillies were had a 1 game lead with 2 to go, but failed to clinch on Saturday, leaving it until the final game of the season, and the rest is history...
But these Phillies already headed into their 3:55 start against the Nats knowing a win would clinch and a loss would slice their lead in half thanks to Johan Santana's CG gem in New York. No scoreboard watching was necessary. All these Phillies needed to do was something they had done 89 times already this season.
Win a baseball game.
Against the cellar dwelling Nats no less.
The first three innings were rather uneventful as Jamie Moyer and John Lannan turned the first third of the game into a pitcher's duel. It was not until the bottom of the fourth inning when a base hit from Utley started what would eventually amount to two Sac Fly RBIs by Pat Burrell and Carlos Ruiz opened up the scoring. After taking a 2-0 lead, the Phillies gave up a run with two outs, as Jayson Werth could not come down with the catch near the right field wall which would have ended the inning, but instead it allowed the runner from second to score, cutting the Phillies lead in half. But Werth redeemed himself in the bottom of the fifth with a solo home run, to extend the Phillies lead back to two runs.
There would be no further action until the top of the eighth when with no outs, and runners on second and third, Milledge hit a fly ball to center. Victorino came in, but was not going to be able to make the catch. Going for it regardless, he hit into Jimmy Rollins who was on the run with a better chance to catch it anyway. They collided, bruising Victorino's shin, but Rollins made the catch, and the Phillies were able to escape the inning only allowing one run. Once again though in the bottom of the inning, the outfielder who committed the blunder redeemed himself. With two outs, Victorino singles to get on first, and then rounds the bases on Pedro Feliz's clutch two out double, to extend the Phillies lead to two, and giving Brad Lidge some insurance.
Turns out he would need all that, and a little bit more...
Lidge comes on in the ninth, and easily strikes out pinch hitter Emilio Bonifacio. One out, two more to go. Easy for Lidge, who was a perfect 40/40 in save situations this season. What could possibly go wrong?
Just about almost everything.
Bernadina comes up, and hits a single to get on. After getting ahead of pinch hitter Langerhans 1-2, Lidge walks him. Than a Hernandez single loads the bases. So bases loaded with Ryan Zimmerman up. The pitch sequence:
1. Ball in Dirt
3. In PLAY! It is hard up the middle! To J-Roll! The Flip to Utley, the Relay to Howard is on the mark!!
ROLLINS SAVES THE GAME! LIDGE GETS THE SAVE! THE PHILLIES CLINCH!!!!!! THE PHILLIES ARE THE 2008 NL EAST CHAMPIONS!!
-And what makes it better is the Met's flop...of course a Philly fan would think.