Rays-Phillies: Tampa Bay Cole'd in Game One

Brian McCardleContributor IOctober 23, 2008

I have a fever, and the prescription is not more cowbell...It's three more wins by the Philadelphia Phillies.

The last two innings of Game One of the 2008 World Series between the Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays might have been the most stressful thing for me to watch, ever.

And there were no Frank TV commercials, thank God.

Before the stress kicked in, however, I was enjoying watching the Phillies in their first World Series game since 1993.

Chase Utley, after a Jayson Werth walk, started Philly off on the right foot, becoming the 34th player to homer in his first at-bat in a World Series, putting them up 2-0.

Then, in the fourth inning, Carlos Ruiz grounded out to Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett, scoring Shane Victorino.

In the bottom of the fourth, Carl Crawford hit a solo home run to right field, making the game 3-1, no big deal.

Cole Hamels ran into trouble in the fifth inning, giving up a double to Akinori Iwamura, which allowed Bartlett to score.

With the Phillies only up one run, I remembered something that made me worry quite a bit. I remembered I'm from Philadelphia...We don't win championships. It's been 25 years since the city's last major championship, the 1983 Sixers. 

The only "championship" we have in recent years is the Soul's, the city's arena football team. Thanks again, Bon Jovi!

But apparently Hamels doesn't know what team he is pitching for. With the Phillies leaving runners in scoring position inning after inning and not producing, the 24-year-old ace never lost his confidence.

While Joe Buck gave praise to B.J. Upton's confident look as a hitter, I was giving praise to Hamels for making a guy with seven home runs in the postseason hit into two inning-ending double plays.

Hey Joe Buck, the Phillies are in the World Series, too.

Hamels gave up two runs, five hits, and struck out five in seven innings. The lefty is now 4-0, with a 1.55 ERA, this October, with 27 strikeouts in 29 innings. He became the 10th starting pitcher in history to win four games in one postseason, behind guys like Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, John Smoltz, Orel Hershiser, David Wells, and Josh Beckett. Might of heard of them, no?

Ryan Madson came into the game to relieve Hamels in the bottom of the eight with a quick one-two-three inning.

Closer Brad Lidge struck out Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria, who struck out two other times in the night, and made Crawford fly out to end the game. Lidge picked up his 47th save this year and sixth this postseason.

It is only Game One, and I'm not crowning them World Series champs or anything. But to win Game One, especially on the road, is huge.

"You try and downplay it, but obviously you're coming into a place like this, you want to make sure you get the first game, especially because you got your ace on the mound," Lidge said. "It's really important to do that."

The Tampa Bay Rays showed something in the first game...Their age. For the first time this postseason, their two, three, and four hitters were held hitless. 

After a nine-game postseason hit streak, Upton has been hitless the last two games, with two strikeouts.

This worst-to-first Rays are still a scary team though. As a team, they have 23 home runs in the postseason. Upton and Longoria combine for 13 themselves.

Not to mention they had a regular-season record of 97-65 in the A.L. and lead their division, which includes the Red Sox and Yankees.

The Phillies were also 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position last night. That is the first time that has happened in the history of the World Series.

Another thing that needs to change for the Phillies to continue winning in this series is Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins, who were a combined 0-for-8 with five strikeouts.

Despite an ugly start offensively, the Phillies lead the series 1-0.

"I think tomorrow we should definitely be more back on track," Utley said.

I hope so.

Coverage for game two begins tonight at 8 PM on Fox. Brett Myers (2-0) of the Phillies will take on James Shields (1-2) of the Rays.