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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Phils Up 1-0 in Series

Chase Utley and Cole Hamels led the way to the Phillies victory in the World Series opener against the Tampa Bay Rays. And with all the talk of the Rays’ miraculous, Cinderella-like worst-to-first run, I couldn’t help but notice that, at least according to my cell phone time, the last out was registered at 12:01 AM.

Forget the week long layoff. Forget the idiotic way Major League Baseball awards home field advantage to the league that wins the All-Star Game. (Ok, the Rays would get it anyway, but I just wanted to mention how dumb it is.) Hamels made the layoff meaningless, and the Phillies have the road win they needed.

After a Jason Werth walk, Utley smashed a home run in his first World Series at-bat to give Hamels a lead before he ever touched the ball. Comcast Post-Game Live just reported he has only lost once all season when he is given an early lead.

A terrible play by Hamels not covering on a grounder to first put the Ray’s leadoff hitter on in the bottom of the first. It would pretty much be his only screw up all night. The misstep was quickly erased by a double-play. Another key double-play ball ended a bases loaded threat in the bottom of the third.

A Carl Crawford home run in the bottom of the fourth tightened the game at 2-1. The fifth inning was Hamels’ worst, as he gave up a 2-out walk followed by a steal and a double to tie the game. Only a nice Ryan Howard grab of a foul ball as he leaned into the stands saved Hamels.

Unfortunately, that’s about all Howard did all night. Howard went 0-4 with a walk, and looked lost at the plate. In fact, in the top of ninth, Werth got his second double of the night, and Utley was intentionally walked to get to Howard. After Jimmy Rollins had whiffed to start the inning to go 0 for 5, Howard struck out looking.

It was the second time Werth doubled and was stranded. It was a theme kicked-off in the second inning when with one out and the bases loaded, Rollins popped out and Shane Victorino was thrown out trying to score on the play. In the sixth inning the Phillies had started four innings with the leadoff hitter getting on, and only Carlos Ruiz registered an RBI in the third inning by knocking in that runner. The Shane Victorino run ended up being the winning run.

Hamels pitched 7.0 innings, giving up 2 runs, and despite throwing 100+ pitches thanks to one bad inning he looked like he could have kept going. But there was no need. Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge each went 1-2-3 with 3 strikeouts between them.

The Phillies are now 3 wins away with home field advantage. Can you feel it?

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