Phillies-Rays: Moyer's Night Becomes Phright Night for the Rays

Chaz MattsonAnalyst IOctober 25, 2008

Game Three of the 2008 World Series overcame a rain delay of an hour and 31 minutes, in time to put a memorable duel in the books. As the rain subsided, the autumn chill set in for the fans and for the teams. For Philadelphia starting pitcher Jaime Moyer, his favorite team growing up as a young fan was the Phillies, being a native of suburban Philly.

Moyer came in the big leagues through the Chicago Cubs. FOX sports showed a brief clip of Moyer facing off against Steve Carlton and the Phillies in the first game of his career. Moyer was focused and loose prior to the game, just hanging out and not getting overly wound up while in the long rain delay.

If Moyer had received the win in Game Three, it would possibly be his last game as a professional pitcher, being that he is currently 46 years old. For Moyer and the Phillies, maybe he saved his best until last.

While Moyer started off solidly, going one-two-three in the top of the first, Matt Garza immediately hit a wall when Jimmy Rollins reached base on a single to center off a 0-1 fastball.

Garza appeared rattled as he walked Jason Werth after working the count 3-1. Chase Utley was up when the first wild pitch of the night was thrown on a 0-1 count, causing the runners to advance. Utley eventually grounded out to first, scoring Jimmy Rollins. 

Garza started to establish his control with a sinking breaking ball that struck out Ryan Howard. Burrell then flied to left and Garza found himself out of a jam with only minor damage.

Tampa Bay showed some fight in the top of the second when Carl Crawford hit a 1-1 Texas leaguer that fell in front of Burrell in left, as he stretched it for a double. After Dioner Navarro popped out to Chase Utley, Carl Crawford quickly stole third with one out and right fielder Gabe Gross at the plate.

Gross hit a deep SAC fly to center, as Shane Victorino displayed his speed in getting the ball for the putout. Heading to the bottom of the second, the score was tied at one a piece. With two outs in the bottom half, Carlos Ruiz took a 0-1 fastball yard for a 2-1 Phillies lead. The score would remain that way, as Moyer stayed smooth in his delivery and Garza settled down. 

In the top of the sixth, the game began its most pivotal inning. With one out, the Rays began to make a serious push. B.J. Upton found his way on first with an opposite-field single to left. B.J. began to pose an annoying problem for Jaime Moyer and tried to work the veteran pitcher's mind a little bit.

In reaching the sixth, Moyer put things on cruise control by only surrendering one run. Carlos Pena had problems with Moyer, not wanting to swing at the outside pitches then letting a fat slider cross him up for the strikeout. 

With two outs, Upton kept pressing Moyer from first base to make a move he might regret. After Evan Longoria stepped up to face Moyer, the Philly pitcher threw to first as B.J. Upton took off for second base. Upton left as soon as Moyer moved. This allowed Upton to showcase his speed as he blazed his way to a stolen base before a throw from Ryan Howard at first and a tag from Chase Utley could be applied.

It’s been said, metaphorically, that two minutes to midnight is where the hands that threaten doom reside. In a literal way, it was about that time Evan Longoria of the Rays made his way to the plate to the Philly fan chants of “Eva!!! Eva!!! Eva!!!”… 

While there is no known relation between Evan and Eva, it’s obvious in the City of Brotherly Love, none of that really matters. Evan swung at the first offering from Moyer, as if he took offense by way of absolutely crushing the ball into the jet stream. 

The unfortunate thing for Longoria, as hard as he swung, was the way in which the ball failed to get over the left-field fence. It hung up in the air long enough for Pat Burrell to catch it for the last out. It is possible Longoria hit the ball too hard, thereby rendering it into a moosh-ball.

No matter, the threatening doom went away for the Phillies and appeared to be a moment the Rays could regret in this World Series or say they were that close somewhere down the road. FOX cameras showed Moyer in a moment of relief look off to the Ray bench and give is best imitation of KISS rocker Gene Simmons. His tongue was sticking out and way down, nearly licking his jersey.

In the bottom half of the sixth, Matt Garza began to fall apart, as he gave up back-to-back home runs to Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, as they both worked the count. Both home-run swings were crushed off the end of the bat and out to right field. 

Those dingers were foregoing the winds coming in from left that knocked down Longoria’s potential two-run shot. At the end of the sixth, the Phillies had stretched their lead to 4-1.

In the top of the seventh, who else but Carl Crawford found a way to squeak out an infield hit, even though replays showed he was out. How many times in sports do you see a door get cracked open and a team takes advantage of it? The Rays were now slowly applying pressure to the Phillies, as they were pressing to score.

Dioner Navarro hit a double to left, as the ball hit off the grass seam and kicked off into the walls like a pinball. The Rays now had runners on second and third with no outs. Crawford scored on line shot that almost ate up Ryan Howard at first. Howard recovered to make the play at first, and Moyer was then replaced by Chad Durbin. 

Navarro scored on a groundball to short from Bartlett. Phillies manager Jimmy Williams lifted Durbin in favor of Scott Eyre for a lefty vs. lefty matchup to get Akinori Iwamura to strikeout.

Ryan Madson came on to pitch for the Phillies in the top of the eighth inning, throwing the ball in the mid 90s. B.J. Upton hit a chopper to Rollins at short and beat the throw to first. After Carlos Pena struck out, Upton stole second on the first pitch to Longoria. 

Upton stole third on a 1-0 count, with a throwing error from Philly catcher Ruiz, as the throw hit Upton and kicked out towards the Rays bench, Upton ran home to tie the game at four.

In the bottom of the eighth, Jason Werth got busy by stealing second base off Rays reliever J.P. Howell after reaching base on a four-pitch walk. Chase Utley came up and eventually struck-out on a 3-2 sinking slider out of the strike zone.

When Ryan Howard came up to bat, Howell caught Werth leaning towards third, and immediately picked him off for out No. 2. Howard then struck out and the Rays survived the eminent threat to reach the ninth inning.

In the top of the ninth, with the score tied at four a piece, both teams started out with the bottom of their lineups coming up to bat. Phillies reliever J.C. Romero put the Rays down in order, one-two-three, as he was first up.

In the bottom half, Joe Maddon implemented a double switch after J.P. Howell hit the first batter Bruntlett on a 2-1 count. This brought on Grant Balfour to face Shane Victorino.

Dioner Navarro lost sight of a 0-1 wild pitch from Balfour. On the play, the wild pitch kicked back of the brick wall backstop straight back to Navarro, who made a wild throw to second that wound up in the outfield as Bruntlett made his way to third with no outs. 

This dubious situation caused manager Joe Maddon to intentionally walk Shane Victorino and Greg Dobbs, loading the bases with Carlos Ruiz at the plate. Maddon switched up defensively to a five-man infield with two in the outfield.

Ruiz was able to muster a chopper to third base; Bruntlett made his way home as Evan Longoria couldn’t get off a good throw and made an errant lob over home plate by a good 15 feet to end the game, 5-4, with the Phillies holding a 2-1 series lead.

The game ended roughly 10 minutes before 2 AM, Philly time, for the Rays, that was the time that ended Game Three in doom.

Game Four is slated for Sunday night at 8:20 PM EDT in Philadelphia.