I had a joke going amongst friends and fellow baseball fans (of the Mets, Cubs and even one Rockies fan) here in Israel this weekend as the Holidays came to an end. It went something like this; “In a short series, you can’t go 4-11 and win.” Considering that the Phillies trailed the Rockies 2-0 in games going into yesterday’s clincher, they got the point.
The Phillies fought hard in game 3 against the Rockies, but once again Colorado won the game this time by a 2-1 score. They won the series on the strength of 3 young starting arms, my choice for series MVP, 2nd baseman and leadoff hitter Kazuo Matsui and a bullpen which absolutely caught flaming, unextinguishable fire as the Rockies won 17 of 18 games down the stretch, caught and defeated the San Diego Padres in a run-off game to make the wild card berth and swept an equally hot Phillies team who had won 13 of their last 17 games in catching and surpassing the Mets for the NL East division title.
You could roll out the what-ifs; If Cole Hamels had not been tagged for 3 runs in a bad 2nd inning in game 1 (he went on to go clean on the Rockies in the 3rd through 6th innings before issuing a lead-off walk in the 7th inning); if Charlie Manuel had not pulled Kyle Kendrick for Kyle Lohse in a two out, bases loaded situation in the 4th inning of game 2 opening the way for Matsui’s slam; had Manuel called for Clay Condrey instead of the attrocious Jose Mesa to open the 6th inning and had avoided surrendering 4 more runs; had the offense showed it’s regular season league-leading punch; etc., etc.
AP sports writer Arnie Stapleton recaps the game for Yahoo sports;
The Rockies roared into the NL championship series Saturday night… on pinch-hitter Jeff Baker’s tiebreaking single with two outs in the eighth inning.
Kaz Matsui, who had five RBIs in Game 2, broke a scoreless tie in the fifth with a triple that skipped past diving left fielder Pat Burrell, scoring Yorvit Torrealba from first base with two outs.
Colorado’s 17th win in 18 games was fueled by [Ubaldo] Jimenez, the hard-throwing 23-year-old who allowed one run and three hits over 6 1-3 innings during a pitchers’ duel at Coors Field, of all places. Then, those reliable Rockies relievers silenced Philadelphia’s dangerous bats for the third straight game.
“We’re winning with our bats, our gloves and our arms,” Rockies MVP hopeful Matt Holliday said. “We’re winning with both youth and experience, with power and little punches. That’s a good brand of baseball to be playing.”
Jimenez’s only mistake was a hanging slider that [Shane] Victorino drove into the right-field seats in the seventh to tie it 1-all. It was the first hit Jimenez allowed since Howard’s single in the first inning.
Jimenez matched Jamie Moyer, Philadelphia’s 44-year-old left-hander who allowed just one run and five hits in six innings. Moyer wiggled out of a bases-loaded jam unscathed in the second.
“They had timely hits,” Moyer said. “They pitched very well for a team that’s supposedly very young.”
And Moyer pitched very well for a guy who’s supposedly very old.
“The kid’s out there pitching the game of his life and it’s like he’s facing Whitey Ford,” Hurdle marveled. “Jamie Moyer, how good was he tonight?”
The wild-card Rockies get four days off before opening the NLCS on Thursday in Arizona, the first time two teams from the NL West have met in the league championship series.
MLB.com’s Ken Mandel adds these comments on the game;
If J.C. Romero was to allow his first run since Aug. 30 — a span of 22 games and 17 2/3 innings — it had to happen like this, on three successive gut punches.
Sure, they might’ve been caught. But, realistically, the maximum effort wasn’t going to be enough.
Rockies closer Manny Corpas preserved that eighth-inning rally… and saved Colorado’s 2-1 win over Philadelphia…
“It’s crazy, man,” added Romero. “I know I executed my pitches, but … that one out of the reach of Jayson, and [the hit past] Chase — I tip my hat. They put enough wood on the [ball]. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s unfortunate that we came up short. We showed a lot of character, and now we have to go home and watch the [Rockies] continue to play.”
The… Phillies lost the series by not hitting. A vaunted offense that led the NL with 892 runs scored and logged the second-highest batting average managed three hits off Ubaldo Jimenez and three relievers, wasting a brilliant effort from veteran starter Jamie Moyer. The Phillies ended up hitting just .172 (16-for-93) in the series.
MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro sums up the Phillies sentiments with this quote from 2nd baseman Jimmie Rollins;
They’ve won 17 out of 18, and they’re doing everything right — not just one guy. [Jeff] Baker came off the bench tonight and he came up with the big hit. He was sitting the whole series, and he comes up with one at-bat, and that’s the game-winning hit. That’s what happens when everything is going your way.
The Phils fought admirably in game 3 but the offense just couldn’t get untracked through the entire series, and so the Rockies meet another surprisingly team, the Arizona Diamondbacks, for the NL Pennant.
The Diamondbacks swept the Chicago Cubs in only a slightly more convincing style than the Rockies swept the Phils.
It should be a great series for baseball fans.
For the scores, boxscores and recaps on both of Saturday’s playoff games, click here.
For the scores, boxscores and recaps on both of Sunday’s playoff games, click here.