It’s deja vu all over again. In a rematch of the 2008 National League Championship Series, the Philadelphia Phillies traveled to Chavez Ravine on Thursday for Game 1 of the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Phillies continued where they left off last year, beating the Dodgers 8-6 in a game that left both sides scratching their heads. The Phillies are making a nasty habit of killing Vegas bookies. They punched their ticket to the NLCS by overcoming a two-run deficit in the 9th inning, down by two runs, on the road in Colorado. Rockies closer Huston Street, virtually unstoppable going 35 for 37 on save opportunities this season, coughed up three runs with two outs for a 5-4 Phillies victory. An even stranger anomaly? The very imperfect Brad Lidge saved his second game of the NLDS… even if he only had to face one batter.
Game 1 of the NLCS was no different.
For the first four innings, this game was looking to end in record time. The Phillies’ Cole Hamels and the 21-year old Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers were pitching masterfully. The only hiccup was Cole Hamels giving up a solo shot to James Loney in the 2nd inning. Loney’s home run wasn’t particularly surprising. He belted 13 in 2009. However, he only hit one at home all year. His second? During the NLCS. Welcome to the playoffs.
The fifth inning ended the pitching duel. Kershaw allowed five runs on just three hits and three wild pitches. Catcher Carlos Ruiz, not known for his offensive prowess, continued his success in the postseason by sending a pitch deep in to Mannywood for a three-run home run. Ryan Howard later plated two more with a two-out double, surpassing Mike Schmidt for most career postseason RBI’s by a Phillie with 17.
Now it was Hamels’ turn. A lead off double by catcher Russell Martin turned in to a run after Chase Utley airmailed a ball over Ryan Howard’s head. The double play machine that is Jimmy Rollins and Utley had a rare miscue when Rollins couldn’t get the ball out of his glove for a split second, thus ruining their timing as Utley was sweeping over the bag. Hamels did not hide his displeasure and it cost him. The next batter was Manny Ramirez. Manny did what he does best in the postseason. He deposited a pitch in to the Phillies’ bullpen, quickly cutting the score to 5-4.
The two teams’ bullpens were now called to action. The solid, dependable Dodgers pen versus the inconsistent Phillies. I did mention this was the playoffs, correct?
The Dodgers called on their rock-steady reliever George Sherrill to pitch the 8th inning. Faster than you can say “Mary Hart”, Sherrill walked the first two batters, then surrendered a three-run home run to left-hander Raul Ibanez. The last time Sherrill gave up a home run to a left-hander? June 14, 2008. Pass the black tacos.
The Phillies countered in the bottom of the frame with Ryan Madson, who relieved Chan Ho Park after throwing an absolutely perfect 7th and erasing a Dodgers rally. Oh yeah, Park hasn’t pitched in almost a month…
Madson quickly got Phillies fans in to their liquor cabinet for some Captain Morgan. The man who has suddenly become more unreliable than Brad Lidge, gave up two runs to cut their lead to 8-6. Madson redeemed himself by getting Manny Ramirez to ground out to end the frame, thus avoiding what could have been another disastrous 8th inning.
Lidge was called on in the 9th inning to preserve the lead and notched his third save of the postseason. Of course he gave up a lead off single Matt Kemp. Why would he want to make it easy? A 1-2-3 inning is just so boring. A Casey Blake double play quickly ended the threat. After a James Loney walk… figures… Ronnie Belliard graciously popped out to Jimmy Rollins to end the game.
This afternoon, the Phillies will send out Pedro Martinez while the Dodgers will counter with Vicente Padilla for Game 2. Is it 1999 or 2009? Who would have thought you would hear those two names in the postseason?
Then again, this is October.
And please pass the guacamole.
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 email@example.com or follow on Twitter @BTSargent.