For Phillies fans, Game 3 of the National League Division Series was about as stressful as it gets. It wasn’t the World Series, but it had that eerie feeling of 1993 in Toronto…
Let us count the ways:
1. The Phillies left home with a spilt, and now had to play the Rockies on their turf, a place where they racked up a 51-30 record, good for second in the National League. With the Rockies holding home field advantage now, this was a chance for them to take control and possibly clinch at Coors Field against the defending World Champions.
2. Even with a postponement due to snow and record low temperatures, the thermometer at game time read 30 degrees. The Rockies players are much more used to playing baseball in these conditions.
3. Rookie starter J.A. Happ’s pitch count. There was no way he was going deep in to the game, and the way the Phillies bullpen have been performing this year, this was going to be a concern.
4. Five lead changes. Every time the Phillies scored, the Rockies countered. The coffee machine got a healthy workout.
5. Brad Lidge.
This is a different Phillies team though. This is not 1993. This is not 2007. This is a team that has been to the top of the mountain. They know about pressure and they know how to overcome it as a team. Sunday night proved it.
When the clock read 2:14 AM EST, the Phillies left the field with a 6-5 victory over the Rockies and a 2-1 lead in the series… and Brad Lidge was the man who brought hope back, not only to his team, but more importantly, himself.
Lidge was called on to pitch the bottom of the ninth inning after Ryan Howard broke a 5-5 tie in the top of the frame with a sacrifice fly to score Jimmy Rollins. After a quick out to Brad Hawpe, Lidge walked the speedy lead-off man Carlos Gonzalez who promptly stole second. After a foul out to third by pinch hitter Jason Giambi, Lidge unintentionally-intentionally walked Todd Helton. With the potential winning run now on first, Lidge had to face Colorado’s most dangerous hitter in Troy Tulowitski. As he did earlier in the game, Tulowitski just missed getting the bat on ball for a home run, and instead, flying out to left field and ending the game.
After Ben Francisco squeezed his glove for the final out, you could see it the Phillies players that this was not just another notch in the series belt. Centerfielder Shane Victorino immediately hugging Francisco, Lidge and catcher Carlos Ruiz reacting and celebrating like they did last October, players emphatically congratulating each other, happy to have the 2008 Lidge back for that night… this was an extremely important win.
Tonight, the Phillies will look to ride on their Game 3 high and will give the ball to Cliff Lee, who threw a one-run complete game against the Rockies in Game 1. Colorado will also throw out their Game 1 starter, Ubaldo Jimenez.
Carlos Ruiz hit two tie-breaking singles in the 4th and 6th innings… Phillies reliever Scott Eyre left the game in the seventh after rolling over his ankle attempting to field a Dexter Fowler bunt. He was replaced by Ryan Madson… The Rockies’ Carlos Gonzalez was a triple shy of the cycle, something that has never been accomplished in the postseason. He hit his first career postseason home run and drove in his first playoff RBI.
About the Author
Written by Bryan Sargent
Bryan Sargent is a lifelong Phillies fan, currently residing in the least hospitable city for such a person as himself, New York City. This coming January he will be attending Phillies Phantasy Camp in Clearwater, FL. He is currently documenting the entire process on his blog (http://www.bryansargent.com). You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @BTSargent.