FOX's broadcast of the 2008 World Series has played the theme music from Rocky as many times as the Philadelphia Phillies had been coming up big.
It’s those musical horns and the city of Philadelphia that for some odd reason serve as a reminder that the impossible is possible. What started to become apparent in Game four is that this is a fight for all the marbles.
Philadelphia is doing what title fighters do, what all great champions do, they have found ways to get up and stay up in their bid to be the best team in baseball. Joe Blanton, a late season addition acquired in a trade with the Oakland Athletics, was nothing short of spectacular as he helped to put the Phillies within one game of their second title.
In most fights there is a period of getting a feel for what the opponent is attempting to do to win. Game one and two might qualify as that time period while game three is important for getting a leg up.
With Philadelphia up 2-1, round four was a vital game for the Rays to make a case to get back into the hunt to be the best team in baseball. Philadelphia would try to stretch their lead to 3-1 in the series. In games like these there’s a series of jabs, punches, counters, upper-cuts, and knockout shots, game four saw all of them.
The bottom of the first started with Jimmy Rollins leadoff double to right. Jayson Werth then advanced Rollins on a deep sacrifice fly to right. Chase Utley walked on four straight pitches to put runners on the corners for the big stick of Ryan Howard. Howard hit a chopper back to pitcher Andy Sonnastine who should have gone to second to try and get the double play; instead he caught Rollins in a run down.
Sonnastine was slow in getting the ball to third baseman Longoria who applied the tag to Rollins' rear end. The third base umpire absolutely missed the call and Rollins wound up being safe at third. Sonnastine walked Pat Burrell with the bases full to score Jimmy Rollins.
Shane Victorino hit a chop back to Sonnastine who flipped the ball from his glove to Ray catcher Dioner Navarro for the out. Immediately after the out at home the Rays miraculously were out of the inning with a fly out to center field.
The next jab from the Phillies came in the bottom of the third as Chase Utley found his way onto first with an infield error by the Rays second baseman Akinori Iwamura. Ryan Howard followed suit with a single into the right field corner that allowed Utley to reach third. After retiring two batters, Pedro Feliz hit a single in between short and third to score the Phillies' second run.
In the top of the fourth Carl Crawford gave the Rays a much needed shot in the arm as he took a 1-2 pitch out of the park to narrow the gap to a 2-1 Phillies lead. Up to this point in time, Joe Blanton had been cruising hrough the first three innings.
Ken Rosenthal said on the FOX broadcast that he heard Blanton state he thought he broke Crawfords bat on the inside pitch. Nonetheless, that was the only damage from the Rays in the top of the fourth.
Most good fighters immediately respond when the competition tries to make a move. The bottom of the fourth became the point where Philadelphia began to establish themselves as the dominant team in game four.
With one out Ryan Howard stepped up to the plate and took a 2-1 sinking curve ball to deep left field to extend the Phillies' lead out to 5-1. Howard's swing was so smooth and powerful it was like a shot of Mo-Town in the heart of Philadelphia bringing music to the ears of the hometown faithful. It was the upper-cut that put Tampa off balance the rest of the game.
In the top of the fifth Eric Hinske who was just added to the roster to replace the injured Cliff Floyd hit a 2-1 pinch hit homerun to keep some hope alive in Tampa.
Another Phillies Upper-Cut Connects
Say it is so Joe! The Phillies' pitcher Joe Blanton took a 2-1 pitch from new Rays pitcher Edwin Jackson deep to left on a high fastball to help extend the lead to 6-2. Blanton pitched as well as he hit the fastball out of the park giving up two runs, four hits, and getting seven strikeouts.
The Parting Knockout Shots
While the Phillies' bullpen kept the Rays at bay, in the bottom of the eighth the Phillies put the icing on the cake and won this round by putting a TKO on Tampa.
With one out Jimmy Rollins reached base for the fourth time with a double off the right field wall. Jayson Werth then hit the first of two two-run homeruns in the inning putting the score at 8-2.
Chase Utley then walked and Ryan Howard stepped in again this time to face Trever Miller. On a 1-0 pitch Howard put the hammer down and delivered the knockout punch to right field, the second two run homer in the inning, and the second homerun for Ryan Howard on the night. Final damage was a Phillies big win 10-2.
With the Sunday night victory the Phillies are now one win away from being World Champions. The atmosphere of Philadelphia flows over, it translates, it oozes brotherly love with the music piping off the PA system as FOX obliges by piping Rocky theme music between parting shots.
Maybe after this World Series it will be heard as not just Rocky's theme, but Philadelphia’s theme by the way they have been Title Phighten.