In Game One of this year’s Fall Classic, the Philadelphia Phillies got a game they had to have with their ace Cole Hamels’ stellar performance. Hamels outlasted Rays ace Scott Kazmir in the pitcher’s duel that put the Phillies up early in the 2008 World Series.
A baseball series so often turns on a dime—depending on the pitching and hitting of both teams. So why should Game Two be any different? Tampa Bay, lest it be forgotten, emerged from the toughest division in baseball as the divisional champion after just one loss.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach John Gruden appeared to offer up a good omen just after an uneventful top half of the first inning as Chuckie read the Rays' lineup for FOX.
Akinori Iwamura walked to lead off, and was followed by B.J. Upton who hit a single that Philly right fielder Jayson Werth misplayed. The error allowed Upton to move up and Iwamura advanced uncontested to third.
With runners on second and third, Rays first baseman Carlos Pena grounded out to SS Jimmy Rollins for an RBI. On the play Rollins was playing on the first base side of the field—playing pull all the way.
Playoff rookie sensation Evan Longoria also wound up grounding out to Rollins—this time on the third base side—and cashing in an RBI. After one inning it was Tampa doing what Philadelphia did just 24 hours before—2-0 Rays.
In the second inning the Phillies saw their promising inning fizzle after placing two runners in scoring position. The Rays gave it a run of their own by loading the bases with two outs when B.J. Upton sliced a single to right for an RBI.
Phillies right fielder Jayson Werth gunned down Ray right fielder Rocco Baldelli at the plate as he was trying to score off of Upton’s hit. After two innings the Rays started to find cruise control behind starter James Shields up 3-0.
The amazing thing about the pitchers in the series thus far is that even after they find themselves in trouble, they seem to find the timely outs. Shields got a key strikeout of Jayson Werth with one out and Carlos Ruiz just 90 feet away from a score.
Chase Utley then grounded out to second, ending the top of the third. In the top of the fourth the Phillies had runners on the corners with one out when Shields struck out DH Greg Dobbs, then got another ground ball to get out of the inning.
Pitching has long been said to win championships, and in only the second game the fans are being treated to something special.
In the bottom of the fourth the Rays struck again. Rays DH and longtime National Leaguer turned American Leaguer Cliff Floyd led off with a broken bat single to left center. He was followed by Dioner Navarro who singled over the pitcher’s mound on a grounder through the middle.
Phillies pitcher Brett Myers continued to wrestle with the Rays' bats just as the Phillies' infield did in trying to turn a double play. Rocco Baldelli reached first on a fielder’s choice, moving Floyd to third with only one out.
Jason Bartlett executed a safety squeeze to perfection down the first base side, scoring Floyd and advancing Baldelli. After four innings of play the Rays were shining brightly with a 4-0 lead.
In the top of the eighth with two outs, Eric Bruntlett took Rays southpaw reliever David Price deep to left for a solo shot that would provide hope to a late Phillies rally. The inning ended with a score of 4-1.
The rally effort continued in the top of the ninth with no outs when Carlo Ruiz started out with a hard hit double down the third base line. Jimmy Rollins was next and on a 0-1 pitch Price appeared to hit Rollins jersey on an inside pitch. The Phillies shortstop popped out to Bartlett in short left field.
Jason Werth then hit a hard shot to third that kicked off of Evan Longoria’s glove side, allowing Ruiz to score from second. Suddenly, Chase Utley came up with an opportunity to tie the game. Rays skipper Joe Maddon left the game in the hands of Price with only one out.
Price had a nice sinking slider to ring up Utley and put two outs on the board with Ryan Howard coming up as the tying run. The Rays played Howard perfectly to pull deep in the hole to the first base side and on the first pitch the big man grounded out deep on the field turf to second baseman Iwamura.
Game Three is slated for Saturday evening in Philadelphia where a rain-out is possibly in the forecast.