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Archive for October, 2008

Phillies Edge Rays for World Series Title

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

           World Series      Cole Hamels

Following a 48 hour rain suspension, the Phiillies and the Tampa Bay Rays, tied 2-2 after the top of the sixth inning, renewed play by trading single runs in the bottom of the sixth and top of the seventh before 3rd baseman Pedro Feliz singled in the winning run. J.C. Romero and closer Brad Lidge were lights-out in the eighth and ninth innings as the Phillies bested the Rays for the World Series Title by 4 games to 1 and a 4-3 score.

Ace lefthander Cole Hamels, who didn’t get his 4th post-season win, was awarded the Series MVP award for having pitched a solid 7 innings in series game 1 as well as another excellent outing going 6 innings in game 5 under treacherous weather conditions.

Reliever Grant Balfour stayed in the game to begin the Phillies’ sixth inning and gave up an inning opening double to Geoff Jenkins who pinch-hit for Hamels.  Shortstop Jimmy Rollins’ sacrifice bunted Balfour’s 1st pitch to 3rd base moving Jenkins to 3rd with 1 out.  Rightfielder Jayson Werth followed by lining Balfour’s 2-2 pitch to centerfield scoring Jenkins to put the Phils up 3-2.   J.P. Howell took over from Balfour struck 2nd baseman Chase Utley out on 3 pitches and got 1st baseman Ryan Howard to pop out to 3rd base to end the inning.  But the Phils had taken a 3-2 lead and it looked like Hamels would actually get his 5th post-season win.

Ryan Madson took over pitching duties in the seventh inning and struck out catcher Dioner Navarro for out 1.  But then Rocco Baldelli nailed Madson’s first offering for a solo homer to left and the game was again tied.  Two pitches later, shortstop Jason Bartlett singled to left and advanced to 2nd base on a Howell’s sacrifice bunt to the pitcher.  Manager Manuel then went to J.C. Romero who was greeted with lead-off hitter 2nd baseman Akinori Iwamura’s infield grounder over 2nd base. Bartlett went to 3rd and tried to score on the play when he was fooled on Utley’s alert bluff throw to first. Bartlett was a sitting duck being tagged out at home on the play as the Rays side was retired and Romero and the Phillies escaped a Rays go-ahead threat.

In the bottom of the seventh, leftfielder Pat Burrell led off by lining
Howell’s 1-1 pitch off the centerfield wall for a double.  
Eric Bruntlett ran for Burrell and stayed in the game to play leftfield in the late innings.
Pedro Feliz then lined Howell’s 1 strike pitch to centerfield to drive in what turned out to be the winning run.  Catcher
Carlos Ruiz and Romero both grounded out to end the inning but the Phils had the lead by 4-3.

After leftfielder Carl Crawford singled to open the eighth inning, centerfielder B.J. Upton grounded into a shortstop-to-2nd-to-1st doubleplay and 1st baseman Carlos Pena lined out to leftfield to retire the side.  Romero, who threw 14 pitches was credited with his 2nd win of the World Series.
 
The Phillies went down in the eighth as only Chase Utley reached on a 
David Price walk.

            World Series       Tug Mcgraw

Closer Brad Lidge, who went perfect for the season with 48 save in 48 opportunities through the World Series, rang up the Rays in the ninth inning.  Lidge only gave up a 1 out single to catcher Navarro and wound up the series in true Tug McGraw style — a swinging third strike on pinch hitter  Eric Hinske for the final out.  Then it was fireworks, horn-honking auto caravans and party-time in Philly with Harry Kalas giving another rendition of the Ole’ Blue Eyes tune — “High Hopes.”

Rays reliever J.P. Howell, who gave up the winning run in the seventh, was charged with his 2nd loss of the World Series and his 3rd of the post-season.

For the Phillies, 45 year old Jamie Moyer and all, it was their 2nd World Series title in the franchise’s 126-year history.  AP Sports Writer Rob Maaddi noted for Yahoo sports;

The bullpen led the NL in ERA (3.22) and winning percentage (.589) during the regular season, and was even better in the playoffs. They were the biggest reason the Phillies were 89-0 this year when leading after eight innings— including 10 postseason wins.

MVP winner Hamels received both the MVP trophy and keys to a new sports car.

Phillies-Rays Tied in Mid-Sixth of Controversial Suspended Game

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

UPDATE:  Tim Brown of Yahoo sports is reporting:

As rain and chilly temperatures rendered Citizens Bank Park unplayable again, commissioner Bud Selig pushed the continuation of the Philadelphia Phillies’ potential clincher to 8:37 p.m. (ET) Wednesday.

Wednesday is expected to be cold and wet with a possible break later in the afternoon.

Tampa Bay Rays general manager Andrew Friedman said by email Tuesday afternoon the Rays would leave the game in the hands of their bullpen, rather than come back with a starter. The Phillies are expected to do the same.

        Charlie Manuel     Rain Delay   

                        Bud Selig         

Lefthanders Cole Hamels and Scott Kazmir faced-off in a rematch of game 1.  But after the Phillies loaded the sacks and notched 2 first inning runs on centerfielder Shane Victorino’s leftfield single, the Rays came back with single runs in the fourth and sixth innings to tie amidst increasing rain and increasingly torrid playing conditions before commissioner Bud Selig suspended the game in the mid-sixth inning.

The Phillies hoped to end the series on Monday in Philadelphia.

ESPN is reporting;

The game has tentatively been scheduled for 8 p.m. ET on Tuesday, weather permitting.

I’m not going to take Selig to task for the game suspension, or when the game was called.   I’m just dealing with the game as it is.  The Phils had scoring shots in both the fourth and fifth innings — bases jammed in the fourth, but couldn’t deliver.   Kazmir walked 6 Phils in 4 innings and the Phils had left 9 runners stranded through 5 innings of at-bats. 

After Hamels quickly disposed of the Rays in the first, the Phils loaded the bases against Kazmir with two outs as rightfielder Jayson Werth walked, 2nd baseman Chase Utley was hit by a pitch and leftfielder Pat Burrell was walked on 5 pitches.  Victorino then lined a 2-1 pitch to leftfield to put the Phils up 2-0. 3rd baseman Pedro Feliz singled to reload the bases as Phils fans chomped at the bit in eager anticipation.  But Kazmir coaxed a fly out to leftfield by catcher Carlos Ruiz, who had been clutch in game 3.

Both Kazmir and Hamels breezed through the second and third innings.

Tampa Bay scored its first run in the fourth inning as 1st baseman Carlos Pena doubled to rightfield and scored on 3rd baseman Evan Longoria’s single to centerfield.

Amidst continuing steady rain, the Phillies tried to rally in the fourth laoding the bases with 2 outs as shortstop Jimmy Rollins and Werth both walked after Hamels reached on a fielders’ choice grounder.  But Utley grounded out to 2nd base leaving everyone stranded.

The Phillies got their first two runners on as Kazmir walked both 1st baseman Ryan Howard and Burrell.  But reliever Grant Balfour replaced Kazmir and got Victorino to fly out to leftfield and got both Feliz and Ruiz to pop out to 1st base.  Kazmir had thrown 103 pitches through five innings,

As the Phils started the sixth up 2-1, it seemed obvious, rain or not, that they needed to score more runs to win this thing.

As the steady downpour of rain became heavier, the Rays tied the game in the sixth as centerfielder B.J. Upton singled and stole 2nd base as described by AP baseball writer Ben Walker for Yahoo sports;

Carlos Pena hit a tying, two-out single in the sixth for the Rays, and the umpires called it moments later. By then, every ball and every pitch had become an adventure because of the miserable conditions.

“The infield was tough. The ball would do funny things,” Phillies second baseman Chase Utley said. “It was in bad shape. It was not playable.”

There has never been a rain-shortened game in Series history, and this was the first suspension. Whenever this one resumes, it will pick up where it left off, with the Phils about to bat in the bottom of the sixth.

I hold that it was best that the game be called.  And Hamels, as I understand MLB rules, still would be credited with the win regardless whether he bats, or is replaced by a pinch hitter IF the Phils score in the sixth and hold the lead.  I would not want to conjecture or second-guess what could happen in the sixth when the game is resumed  were it to have been stopped after the first 2 outs.

Here is a citing of the MLB rules for determining the winning pitcher;

             WINNING AND LOSING PITCHER

10.19 (a) Credit the starting pitcher with a game won only if he has pitched at least five complete innings and his team not only is in the lead when he is replaced but remains in the lead the remainder of the game.

(4) The winning relief pitcher shall be the one who is the pitcher of record when his team assumes the lead and maintains it to the finish of the game.

EXCEPTION: Do not credit a victory to a relief pitcher who is ineffective in a brief appearance, when a succeeding relief pitcher pitches effectively in helping his team maintain the lead. In such cases, credit the succeeding relief pitcher with the victory.

(d) When a pitcher is removed for a substitute batter or substitute runner, all runs scored by his team during the inning in which he is removed shall be credited to his benefit in determining the pitcher of record when his team assumes the lead.

Whether Hamels bats, or a pinch hitter, and whether we see Ryan Madson, or Chad Durbin, or maybe even rookie lefthander J.A. Happ in the seventh — we’ll see what move Charlie makes.

I just hope that the Phils clubhouse gets over its’ anger and gets down to business.  Otherwise, curses are self-fulfilling prophecies.

Fans should remember that the Phils still hold a 3-1 lead in games.  We’re in the driver’s seat.  Regardless of how the final 2 1/2 innings go down, there are still a maximum of 7 games to a World Series.  I’ll just leave it at that. 

Phillies Fans: The “One More” Finger Sign

Monday, October 27th, 2008

Four hours before the Phillies go out to try to end the series in Philadelphia, I sit in Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel reminiscing about
Philly sports fans on the eve of winning a championship.

I saw six such eves in my nearly 51 years living in the Philadelphia are.  Now I am experiencing my sixth, from thousands of miles away.

But I can still conjure up, with inevitability, driving by and exchanging one-finger signs with other drivers and pedestrians. That 1-sign speaks volumes about how close these 2008 Phillies are to winning it all.

So I sit, conjuring up Greer, “Wally Wonder”, Kangaroo Kid Cunningham, Chamberlain, Van Brocklin-to-McDonald, “Lefty”, Bowa, Schmitty, the Bull, Clarke, Barber, MacLeish, “The Hammer” and more.

Four more hours until we begin to see if Cole Hamels, the heir to Lefty notoriety, wins a record 5th post-season game in 2008 and if the offense can bring this thing home.  Four more hours until it begins to emerge who tonight’s hero is; Utley, Howard, the “Flyin’ Hawaiian”, Lidge, Pat “The Bat”…

But don’t count out those Rays.  They got up 3 games to 1 on the Red Sox and ended up having to win the seventh game to make the Series.

However, it is nostalgic to recall the blaring of horns and dancing in the streets on the night that Philly won.     Go Phillies!

Phillies Manhandle Rays, Go Up 3 to 1 in WS

Monday, October 27th, 2008

      Ryan Howard     Phillies    Joe Blanton

1st Baseman Ryan Howard pounded 2 homers and drove in 5 runs while going 3 for 4.  Starter Joe Blanton helped his own cause with a solo homer while holding the Rays through six fine innings as the Phils uncorked their offense.  Rightfielder Jayson Werth chipped in with a 2 run homer as the  Phillies pummelled Tampa Bay pitchers to win by a 10-2 score on Sunday and go up by 3 games to 1 in the series.

Joe Blanton was a horse out of the starting blocks, his fastball and off-speed pitches working to near perfection as the Phillies offense, working on nearly all cylinders, struck against Andy Sonnanstine for single runs in the first and third innings.  Blanton retired 11 of the first 13 Rays hitters he faced before leftfielder Carl Crawford went yard for a solo homer to rightfield on a 1-2 pitch with 2 out in the fourth.   The Phillies offense finally broke out of it’s doldrums of the first 3 games.

AP baseball writer Ronald Blum provides this note on the Phils’ offense for Yahoo sports;

The Phillies were 4-for-14 with runners in scoring position and are 6-for-47 in the Series.

Shortstop Jimmy Rollins opened the game for the Phils with a double to rightfield and advanced to 3rd base on rightfielder Jayson Werth’s fly out to rightfield.  Sonnanstine walked 2nd baseman Chase Utley on 4 pitches and went to 2nd base as Howard reached on a fielder’s choice to the pitcher that netted no outs as Rollins eluded a rundown between 3rd and home.  Sonnanstine walked leftfielder Pat Burrell on 5 pitches forcing in Rollins with the 1st Phils run.  Centerfielder Shane Victorino followed by grounding into a fielder’s choice with Utley out at home — bases still jammed.   3rd baseman Pedro Feliz flied out to centerfield to end the inning.  Rollins, like Howard, had a big game going 3 for 5 and scoring 3 runs.

Sonnanstine got through the second inning okay only surrendering a Rollins single to centfield.  But in the third, Utley led off reaching on a fielding error by 2nd baseman Akinori Iwamura.   Howard pounded a long single to right sending Utley to 3rd.  Burrell and Victorino both popped out to shortstop.  Feliz singled to left scoring Utley with the Phils’ 2nd run.  Catcher Carlos Ruiz, the hero of Saturday’s game 3, singled through the hole at 2nd base to load the bases.  But Blanton fouled out to 1st base to end the threat.

After Crawford’s fourth inning homer narrowed the score to 2-1, the Phils struck Sonnanstine for 3 fourth inning runs as he struggled with his offspeed pitches throughout.  Rollins reached on a 2nd fielding error by 2nd baseman Iwamura.  Werth walked on 4 pitches as Rollins took 2nd.  After Utley struck out, Howard pounded a 3 run homer to leftfield as the Phils went up by 5-1.  Victorino ended the inning by popping out to 3rd base.

In the fifth Blanton got the first 2 outs before pinch hitter (for
Sonnanstine)
Eric Hinske pounded a 2-1 pitch from Blanton for a solo homer to centerfield to cut the score to 5-2.

But with 2 out in the Phillies’ fifth inning, Blanton seemingly closed his eyes with the count 2-1 as reliever Edwin Jackson served up a pitch in his wheelhouse.  I can’t believe that rip.  I tell you, he looked like Greg Luzinski.  Blanton blistered it out to leftfield and the Phils’ lead was 6-2. 

Meanwhile, when Blanton was replaced after six innings inning having thrown 99 pitches, Chad Durbin, Scott Eyre and Ryan Madson shutdown the Rays on 1 hit in the seventh with Madson retiring the side in order in the eighth on 9 pitches.  Madson had 3 strikeouts in his 1 1/3 innings of work.

Phillies Nations’ Tim Malcolm had these thoughts on Blanton;

Blanton pitched superb. He went six innings, giving up just two runs and striking out seven. He located all his pitches, never ever getting into much trouble while making the Rays look dead on arrival. The bullpen cleaned it up without a dent, per usual.

In the eighth, the Phils exploded on Rays’ relievers Dan Wheeler and  Trever Miller for 4 runs as Werth and Howard added icing on the cake each hitting a 2 run homer to cap a Phillies performance where they totally out-classed Tampa Bay in every component of the game. 

AP baseball writer Blum further notes;

Blanton became the first pitcher in 34 years to homer in the World Series…

Blanton, with a Greg Luzinski body type that’s a throwback to an era of pudgy pitchers, gave up four hits—including solo homers to Carl Crawford and pinch-hitter Eric Hinske—struck out seven and walked two in six innings.

Just 2-for-33 (.061) with one RBI in his career to that point, Blanton homered in the fifth off Edwin Jackson. It was just the 15th home run by a pitcher in the Series, and the first since Oakland’s Ken Holtzman in 1974.  No NL pitcher had homered since the Cardinals’ Bob Gibson in 1968.

If the Phillies win Monday, it would mark the first time the Series has gone five straight years without reaching a Game 6. The only other four-year stretch without a Game 6 was 1913-16. …  Lenny Dykstra (1993) is the only other Phillies player with a multihomer Series game.

On Monday, lefthanders Cole Hamels and Scott Kazmir face-off in a rematch of game 1.  Hamels has a shot at sealing the Rays’ fate and ending the series in Philadelphia.  If need be, the teams have Tuesday off for travel to return to Tampa Bay where they would play games 6 and 7.

Phillies Edge Rays for 2-1 Lead on Walk-Off Single by Ruiz

Sunday, October 26th, 2008

             Carlos Ruiz        J.C. Romero

Catcher Carlos Ruiz, light-hitting during the regular season and during the NL playoffs but hitting .500 through 3 games of the World Series, drove in the winning run with none out and runners on 2nd and 3rd base in ninth inning on an infield single to 3rd base as the Phillies took a 2 games to 1 lead edging the Tampa Bay Rays by a 5-4 score in Saturday’s game 3 of the World Series.

Ruiz, who hit a paltry .219 in 117 games in the regular season and .200 through the NL division series and the NLCS, is 4 for 8 with 2 doubles, has a homer and 3 RBIs through the first 3 games of the World Series.  The 29 year old 3rd year catcher homered in the second inning to break a 1-1 tie in the first of 3 games to be played in Philadelphia.

After the 91 minute rain delay to the start of the game, 45 year old lefthander Jamie Moyer, with a 16-7 mark during the regular season but tenuous in the NL playoffs, was shakey through the first and second innings.  The Rays’ scored their first run in the second inning on a sacrifice fly by rightfielder Gabe Gross which scored leftfielder Carl Crawford whose double lanced off of the glove of a sliding Pat Burrell in leftfield.  Crawford stole 3rd base to set up the sacrifice fly score.

Meanwhile, Matt Garza was touched for single Phillie runs in both the first and second innings.   Shortstop Jimmy Rollins led off for the Phillies with a single to centerfield on Garza’s 2nd pitch.  Rollins went 2 for 4 for the game breaking out of his post-season slump.  Rightfielder Jayson Werth walked on 5 pitches.  Both runners advanced a Garza wild pitch to 2nd baseman Chase Utley who later drove in the Phillies 1st run on a  ground out to 1st base.  With 2 outs in the second inning, Ruiz solo homered to leftfield on Garza’s 2nd pitch to put the Phils up 2-1.

Moyer settled down after the shakey start and retired 12 of the next 14 hitters he faced from the second through sixth innings before things came apart for him in the seventh.

As Moyer took care of the Rays, the Phillies big guns Utley and 1st baseman Ryan Howard put on a power display lighting up Garza for back-to-back homers to open the sixth inning staking Moyer and the Phils to a brief 4-1 lead.   Howard’s homer was the second of his career in the post-season.  He solo homered in last season’s division championship game 2 against Colorado.  He has struck out 6 times in the 3 games with Tampa Bay.

But things went a bit awry in the seventh for Moyer and reliever Chad Durbin. 

AP baseball writer Ben Walker recaps the last 3 innings for Yahoo sports;

Garza, who beat Boston in Game 7 to win the MVP award of the ALCS, never seemed comfortable and kept fidgeting with the rubber.

Moyer left in the seventh with a 4-2 lead after an RBI grounder by Gabe Gross. He tipped his cap toward plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth and then to the crowd that gave him a rousing standing ovation.

Chad Durbin relieved and gave up Jason Bartlett’s RBI grounder that pulled the Rays within a run.

Minus Moyer, the Rays sped back to tie as [centerfielder] B.J. Upton became the first AL player to steal three bases in a Series game.

Upton beat out an infield single to open the eighth, swiped second and third on consecutive pitches, and dashed home on a wild throw by Ruiz to make it 4-all.

Tampa Bay’s rally dampened the moment Moyer waited for his whole life. The 45-year-old lefty finally got to pitch in the World Series and threw a game that defines his career, bedeviling the Rays with his slo-mo repertoire.

It all came down to this: Rays reliever J.P. Howell hit Eric Bruntlett with a pitch to start the ninth. Enter Grant Balfour, who threw a wild pitch that caromed off the backstop to catcher Dioner Navarro, whose throw trying to get Bruntlett skipped into center field.

With Bruntlett on third, the Rays issued two intentional walks and brought in right fielder Ben Zobrist for a five-man infield. Ruiz followed with a nubber down the line and third baseman Evan Longoria charged. He dived for the ball, and rushed an underhanded flip home that sailed over Navarro’s head.

The single was just the Phils’ second hit in 33 chances with runners in scoring position this Series.

The Phillies rushed from the dugout to congratulate Bruntlett at the plate and Ruiz at first base. The giant Liberty Bell in center field clanged in celebration—no cowbells here at Citizens Bank Park.

Scott Eyre relieved Durbin with 2 out in the seventh recording a strikeout to retire the side.   Ryan Madson came on in the eighth and was charged with the tying run which closed the book on Moyer.  Lefthanded reliever J.C. Romero came on with 2 outs io the eighth and retired Crawford on one pitch, a fly to rightfield, to end the inning.  Romero set the Rays down in order on 14 pitches in the ninth inning to record the win.

Howell, who was charged with the winning run, took the loss.

In Sunday’s game 4, Joe Blanton contests against Andy Sonnanstine.  On Monday, lefthanders Cole Hamels and Scott Kazmir face-off in a rematch of game 1.

Rays Beat Phillies in Game 2, Even Series

Friday, October 24th, 2008

Tampa Bay scored 3 runs in the 1st two innings on Brett Myers, 2 on groundouts in the first inning with runners on 3rd base, and the other run on a bases loaded single to right by centerfielder B.J. Upton.   The Phillies left another 11 runners stranded against James Shields and the Rays’ bullpen in falling by a 4-2 score in Thursday’s game 2.

Brett Myers was touched for 2 runs in the first inning.  He walked leadoff hitter 2nd baseman Akinori Iwamura on 5 pitches and gave up a rightfield single to Upton which Jayson Werth bobbled for a rare error, allowing both runners to advance putting runners on 2nd and 3rd base with none out.  Then single runs scored on successive groundouts as Tampa Bay scored 2 runs while grounding out for all 3 outs of the inning.

The Phillies looked like they were about to break out against starter  James Shields in the second inning.   1st baseman Ryan Howard lined a 1-2 pitch deep to centerfield for a double and leftfielder Pat Burrell worked a full-count before walking.  Centerfielder Shane Victorino popped out to 3rd base for the 1st out.  Shields worked a 1 ball, 2 strike count to dh Greg Dobbs before tossing a wild pitch moving the runners up to 2nd and 3rd with one out.  But Dobbs struck out looking and 3rd baseman Pedro Feliz lined out to centerfield ending the inning and stranding the runners.

AP baseball writer Mike Fitzgerald provides a recap of the Rays’ 2nd and 4th inning scoring for Yahoo sports;

…A confusing call in the second… helped Tampa Bay make it 3-0.   Rocco Baldelli walked on a checked swing that seemed to confuse players and umpires alike.

He checked his swing on a full-count pitch and plate umpire Kerwin Danley immediately raised his right arm as if to call strike three. But then Danley pointed to first base for an appeal, and umpire Fieldin Culbreth signaled safe.

“It was his intention to go to first base for help on a half-swing that he had as ball four,” said Mike Port, Major League Baseball’s vice president for umpiring. “He just gave a confusing mechanic. But he had called it a ball, and it was ruled no half-swing anyway. So it was just that particular mechanic that caused confusion.”

Myers and several Phillies infielders were puzzled, along with Manuel, who took a few steps out of the dugout but didn’t argue long.

“I thought he called the guy out,” Manuel said.

Port said the umpires would not be available for comment.

With the bases loaded and two outs, Upton hit an RBI single to right. Werth made a strong throw to cut down Baldelli, who crashed into [Carlos] Ruiz but couldn’t dislodge the ball.

In the fourth, [Jason] Bartlett, the No. 9 hitter, drove in Cliff Floyd with a safety squeeze—one pitch after fouling off a suicide squeeze attempt. Rays fans clanged their cowbells, just as they were instructed on the scoreboard in a campy “public service announcement” before the game.

Tampa Bay never really got a huge hit, but neither did the Phillies as Jimmy Rollins & crew fell to 1-for-28 with runners in scoring position.

“That might be one of our sloppiest games all year,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “I’m concerned about us hitting with guys on base, because it looks like at times we might be trying a little too hard. But we can fix that.”

After the fourth inning, Myers settled down and allowed only 2 Rays to reach over his last three innings, a fifth inning walk to 1st baseman Carlos Pena and a lead-off seventh inning single by Bartlett.

Myers threw 85 pitches through seven innings walking 3 and striking out 2 in a losing cause. Lefthanded reliever J.C. Romero saw his first 2008 World Series action retiring the Rays on 9 pitches in the eighth.

Winning pitcher Shields, surprisingly, was pulled after throwing 5 2/3 innings of shutout ball.  The Phils threatened against Shields in both the fifth and sixth innings but came up empty.

In the fifth, with runners on 1st and 2nd base with 1 out, 2nd baseman  Chase Utley lined into a doubleplay, from rightfield to 1st base with Werth being doubled off of 1st base.

With 2 outs in the sixth inning, Victorino and Dobbs laced successive singles to right and centerfield chasing Shields.  Reliever Dan Wheeler entered and got Feliz to ground a 1-1 pitch into a fielder’s choice retiring Dobbs at 2nd base for the final out. 

The Phils threatened again in the seventh inning as Ruiz led off with a walk and stole 2nd base as Rollins struck out.  Werth followed by going down on strilkes looking.  Young closer David Price replaced Wheeeler and walked Utley on 4 pitches putting 2 men on with 2 out.  But Price struck out Ryan Howard looking on a 2-2 pitch to retire the side.

The Phillies scored single runs in the eighth and ninth innings against Price.  Eric Bruntlett pinch hit for Dobbs with 2 out in the eighth and lined Price’s 1st pitch out for a a solo homer to leftfield.

The Phils threatened once again in the ninth inning off of Price but got only 1 run to show for it.  Ruiz led off with a double to leftfield on a 3-2 pitch.  After Rollins popped out, Werth reached on an error by 3rd baseman Evan Longoria allowing Ruiz to score.  With the tying run at the plate, Price struck out Utley on 3 pitches and got Howard on a 1st pitch grounder to 2nd base to end the game.

The Phils appear to be in one of their failure to score with runners on funks.  We’ve had Rays’ pitching on the hook numerous times and have come away empty. In game 1, they got lucky because their pitching was THAT GOOD.  But, to win this series, they will have to capitalize on a far high percentage of scoring opportunities than they have thus far in the series.  With a bit of offensive elbow-room provided to this pitching staff, this series is winable. 

On Saturday, the venue switches to Philadelphia for game 3 as 45 year old lefthander Jamie Moyer faces Matt Garza.  In Sunday’s game 4, Joe Blanton contests against Andy Sonnanstine.  On Monday, lefthanders Cole Hamels and Scott Kazmir face-off in a rematch of game 1.

However, there could be a fly in the ointment with predictions of a 70% chance of rain in Philadelphia on Saturday which could alter the world series schedule and, as a result, the pitching plans for both teams.