Never before had a Phillies team led a World Series three games to one.
Now, one has.
The Phillies capped off a ferocious outing with a 10-2 victory over the Rays. They are now one win away from the city's first major sports title in 25 years.
I'm running down to the clubhouse.
I'll be back with much more later
BOTTOM OF THE FIFTH (Phillies 6, Rays 2): Joe Blanton and Brett Myers are friends. They hang out together. Apparently, they both like to hit too. Myers has had a couple of great at-bats this postseason. Blanton might have trumped him, becoming the first pitcher since 1974 to hit a home run in a World Series game. Blanton took Edwin Jackson deep for a solo shot that made up for Eric Hinske's homer off of him in the top of the frame. The last pitcher to hit a home run in the World Series was Oakland's Kenny Holtzman in 1974 against the Dodgers.
TOP OF THE FIFTH (Phillies 5, Rays 2): Eric Hinske, pinch-hitting for pitcher Andy Sonnanstine, just hit one of hte more impresive home runs you'll see, sending a 2-1 pitch from Joe Blanton off the brick wall in dead center field. It was a solo shot, so it didn't do too much damage. Nevertheless, the Phillies don't want to let the Rays creep back into this game. They had a three-run lead last night and watched it slip away. Here's a fun fact: A team that takes a 3-1 lead in the World Series has gone on to win the World Series in 36 of 42 occasions. The last time that a team with a 3-1 lead wound up losing a series was in 1985, when St. Louis lost the last three games to the Royals. The final two games were in Kansas City. Just sayin'.
BOTTOM OF THE FOURTH (Phillies 5, Rays 1): My apologies for missing the top of the fourth. We'll call it technical difficulties. Carl Crawford shaved the Rays deficit to 2-1 with a two-out solo home run. Just heard Ken Rosenthal on Fox saw Blanton looked bewildered walking off the mound, thinking he at first had given up a routine fly ball. Welcome to Citizens Bank Park. But the Bank taketh away, and the Bank giveth as well. In the bottom half of the frame, Ryan Howard went oppo with a three-run home run that lifted the Phillies to a 5-1 lead. It wasn't the most well-hit ball you'll see off his bat. But it was more than well enough to clear the left field fence. Jimmy Rollins led off the inning by reaching on the second error on Akinori Iwamura. Rollins has now reached base in all three of his plate appearances.
BOTTOM OF THE THIRD (Phillies 2, Rays 0): The odds were certainly in the Phillies favor as Pedro Feliz stepped up to the plate with two out in the thrid inning. They'd already gone hitless in their first six at-bats with runners in scoring position, and were 2-for-39 in the series. Somebody had to get a hit. It ended up being Feliz, who sent a ground ball through the left side of the infield to score Chase Utley from third. Utley reached on an error, then advanced to third on a single by Ryan Howard. Pat Burrell and Shane Victorino both popped out to short stop, leaving the Phillies on the verge of another frustrating collapse. But Feliz came through, and the Phillies lead 2-0. Carlos Ruiz loaded the bases with an infield single, but Joe Blanton's success on the mound hasn't translated to the plate -- he fouled out to first base to end the inning. Regardless, Andy Sonnanstine is already up to 69 pitches.
TOP OF THE THIRD (Phillies 1, Rays 0): The Phillies are getting exactly what they need out of Joe Blnton. He gave up a one-out single to Rays pitcher Andy Sonnanstine, but got both Akinori Iwamura and B.J. Upton to ground out. He is locating his fastball very well and mixing in his slider. He is also keeping the ball out of the air -- only two outs have been fly balls.
BOTTOM OF THE SECOND (Phillies 1, Rays 0): After a rough first inning, Rays righty Andy Sonnanstine settled down, getting Carlos Ruiz to fly out and striking out Joe Blanton before giving up a single to Jimmy Rollins. Jayson Werth popped out to end the inning, but the heart of the order is up next.
TOP OF THE SECOND: (Phillies 1, Rays 0): Another impressive inning by Joe Blanton. He got Longoria swinging, adding to the frustrations of the rookie third baseman, who is hitless in 13 at-bats this series. Longoria is obviously frustrated. Blanton then got Crawford to swing at a slider out of the zone. He did give up a hit to Dioner Navarro - a single to right field - but then got Ben Zobrist to pop out to end the inning.
BOTTOM OF THE FIRST (Phillies 1, Rays 0): The good news for the Phillies is that they manged to take a 1-0 lead. The bad news is similar to what it has been all series: they let a chance for a big inning slip away. Jimmy Rollins led off with a double down the first base line, then moved to third on a sacrifice fly by Jayson Werth. Chase Utley then walked, putting runners on the corner with one out. The Rays seemed to be on the verge of escaping the jam when Ryan Howard sent a tapper back to the mound. But instead of wheeling to second for a potential double play, Andy Sonnastine ran to the third base line to catch Jimmy Rollins in a run down. Rollins got behind Evan Longoria at third base, diving under his arm and to the left of the base. Longoria swiped his arm, and may have tagged Rollins (Longoria thought he did), but third base umpire Tim Welke ruled him safe. That loaded the bases with one out. But the Phillies couldn't come up with a big hit. Sonnastine walked Pat Burrell to force Rollins home, but Shane Victorino hit a soft tapper back to Sonnastine, who threw home to get Utley in a force. Pedro Feliz then flied out to end the inning. The Phillies are now 0-for-4 with RISP tonight and 2-for-37 in the series.
TOP OF THE FIRST (Phillies 0, Rays 0): A scare off the bat of Akinori Iwamura not withstanding, Joe Blanton looks sharp early. A key for him has always been finding the strike zone and avoiding walks, and he did just that in the top of the first. Iwamura sent a ball to the wall the opposite way, but it petered out in the glove of Pat Burrell for a long out. Blanton then struck out Upton looking on a 1-2 fastball before getting Carlos Pena to foul out to catcher Carlos Ruiz. First inning struggles have plagued the Phillies in the past, so a scoreless start is a very positive sign. Nonetheless, getting Blanton a lead early will be key.
NATIONAL ANTHEM: Turns out, Patti LaBelle still has her vocal chords. The Philadelphia native and soul queen just belted out a, shall we say, spirited rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner. We're about to get underway here. Stay tuned for some updates throughout the game.
It's a beautiful, clear night hear at the park. Not freezing, but there is a nip in the air.
Here are the lineups:
- Jimmy Rollins SS
- Jayson Werth RF
- Chase Utley 2B
- Ryan Howard 1B
- Pat Burrell RF
- Shane Victorino CF
- Pedro Feliz 3B
- Carlos Ruiz C
- Joe Blanton RHP
- Akinori Iwamura 2B
- B.J. Upton CF
- Carlos Pena 1B
- Evan Longoria 3B
- Carl Crawford LF
- Dioner Navarro C
- Ben Zobrist RF
- Jason Bartlett SS
- Andy Sonnanstine RHP
Maddon going with Zobrist in right for the second time this series. Manuel sticking with the lineup he has used throughout the series, though this might have been a day in the past where he would put Greg Dobbs in the lineup. Dobbs' bat is such an assett off the bench, though.
Keep it locked here for more.