Many memorable things can happen in the wee hours of the morning—just ask the Philadelphia Phillies.
In Game Three of the World Series, the Phillies beat the Tampa Bay Rays 5-4 in the bottom of the ninth. Ah, the suspense. It’s exactly what fans have been waiting for.
Baseball fans have known, coming into the World Series, that the matchup between the Rays and Phillies was an excellent one. The two speedy teams, inexperienced in the postseason, balance each other well.
Tonight, the youth of Matt Garza was offset by the experience of Jamie Moyer.
How old is Moyer, again (because, you know, no one talks about that)? Realistically, the age doesn’t matter. What matters is that Jamie Moyer showed up to win. The tricky lefty pitched six-and-one-third innings, giving up three runs on five hits.
Just as many suspected, Moyer was able to put his last two starts behind him and pitch marvelously in Philadelphia’s first World Series home game in 15 years.
Moyer added some defense to his night by making a spectacular diving play, shoveling the ball toward first baseman Ryan Howard for the out—or so the Phillies thought. The first-base umpire, Tom Hallion called Rays’ Carl Crawford safe. Another botched call against the Phillies.
Although he didn’t get the call (eventually Crawford would come in to score), one cannot ignore the Moyer’s effort.
“That was impressive,” outfielder Shane Victorino admitted as he chatted with his fellow outfielders during a lull in the game.
Good ol’ dependable Jamie was back and the city of Philadelphia thanked him with a standing ovation as Chad Durbin relieved him.
It appears shortstop Jimmy Rollins is (somewhat) back as well. Hitless in the first two games, Rollins went 2-for-4 and scored the game’s first run.
Not to be outdone, the Phillies’ home-run swings joined the comeback party. Catcher Carlos Ruiz added to Rollins’ run with a home run in the second inning. Chase Utley and Ryan Howard hit back-to-back homers, bringing the noise level in Citizens Bank Park to a decibel level that disturbed Fox’s camera enough to distort the picture.
The celebration was threatened in the top of the eighth inning when Tampa Bay tied the game on B.J. Upton’s speed. Upton singled, proceeded to steal second and third, and eventually scored on a wild throw to third by Ruiz. Surprisingly, Phillies’ reliever Ryan Madson wasn’t as effective as he has been.
The bottom of the eighth showed much promise, with Jayson Werth, Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard coming to the plate. Only frustrated emotions, sprinkled with funny text messages from my sister, came out that inning (“Chase Suckley” on Utley’s strike out, “omg, Werth-LESS” after Werth was picked off second base).
The ninth inning provided more drama and an interesting defensive strategy.
My reliever of choice, J.C. Romero, earned the win, getting the last four outs that Philadelphia needed. However, in the bottom of the ninth, the game was still tied; the Phillies’ job wasn’t done yet.
Eric Bruntlett led off and was hit by a pitch. With Victorino at the plate, Rays pitcher Grant Balfour throws a wild pitch and Bruntlett advances to second base. Rays’ Dioner Navarro then fires an off-target throw to second base, which allowed Bruntlett to take third base.
No way Pat Burrell would have been able to run those bases.
The Rays intentionally load the bases for Ruiz and the catcher sends a chopper up the third base line that scores the winning run. Rays’ Evan Longoria made a valiant effort going after the ball and tossing it toward home plate. Many wonder if the ball would have gone foul if he let it go.
There’s no use dwelling on “what if’s”—a lesson fans are learning through the umpiring calls in this World Series.
With Game Three in the books, Game Four is set to being in hours. Andy Sonnanstine will be on the mound for the Rays, Joe Blanton for the Phillies.
Definitely cherishing his moment on the World Series mound, Jamie Moyer was delighted, despite not getting the win. Where does this moment rank in the 45-year-old’s baseball memories?
“It’s the top,” Moyer responded with his ageless smile.
Nine games down, two to go.
Non-baseball Baseball Notes
National Anthem: Thank goodness Philadelphia chose Taylor Swift to sing the National Anthem. Taylor Swift (whom I never heard until tonight) versus Backstreet Boys? Philadelphia wins that competition.
Mother Nature: While I hate rain delays, nothing beats playing a game underneath the stars (or sun, depending on the time of day). There’s just something lacking when teams play in a dome. Or maybe I’m just bitter because of how, during my younger years, dome teams would beat my hometown Oakland A’s in big games.
Predictions: Rollins’ predicted 100 wins. Let’s tweak that and assume he meant 103. They’re now at 101 wins.