Saturday, April 19, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Wow. What else can you say?

It ended with five infielders drawn in, two outfielders playing shallow, the No. 8 hitter at the plate, and Eric Bruntlett on third base. Not how you would have envisioned late-game heroics going down. But down they went. Carlos Ruiz hit a chopper to third base that Evan Longoria charged and made a rushed errant throw home, allowing Bruntlett to slide in safely.

Wow. What else can you say?

It ended with five infielders drawn in, two outfielders playing shallow, the No. 8 hitter at the plate, and Eric Bruntlett on third base. Not how you would have envisioned late-game heroics going down. But down they went. Carlos Ruiz hit a chopper to third base that Evan Longoria charged and made a rushed errant throw home, allowing Bruntlett to slide in safely.

Your final score: Phillies 5, Rays 4.

They squandered plenty of opportunities, but they took a 2-1 series lead regardless.

Unbelievable.

It is 1:50 a.m., by the way.

Here is the running game blog.

I'm running down to the clubhouse.

More later

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TOP OF THE NINTH (Phillies 4, Rays 4): Brad Lidge is still available, but the  Phillies do not want this to go into extra innings. J.C. Romero did his part, setting the Rays down in order in the top of the frame. Eric Bruntlett, Shane Victorino and either Pedro Feliz or Greg Dobbs await in the bottom half of the frame.

BOTTOM OF THE EIGHTH (Phillies 4, Rays 4): We've seen it before in the postseason. Think Kim Batiste. Guy makes a huge mistake, comes back to attone for it later. I'm sure Jayson Werth is hoping he gets the chance. After drawing a lead-off walk and stealing second, Werth was picked off second with one out and Ryan Howard at the plate. He took too big of a lead, got caught moving in the wrong direction, and was dead in the water. Howard then struck out to end the threat. From the go-ahead run in scoring position with no out to no men left on base at the end of the inning. J.C. Romero is still on in the ninth. What a crazy game.

TOP OF THE EIGHTH (Phillies 4, Rays 4): Everyone saw the statistics. The Phillies were aware the Rays brought with them a rare breed of speed. It has proven to be the difference between a comfortable lead and a tie ball game. B.J. Upton drew a lead off walk, then stole both second and third, tying the game after Carlos Ruiz's throw to third got away from Pedro Feliz. The error might not have been that big of a deal, since Upton likely would have scored on Carlos Pena's one-out chopper up the middle. The Rays have now stolen four bases tonight, giving them 22 for the postseason, a new major league record. The previous record of 20 was held by the 1975 Reds and the 1992 Braves. Heart of the order is up in the bottom of the eighth, so now would seem to be the time for the Phillies to get some more late-inning magic.

BOTTOM OF SEVENTH (Phillies 4, Rays 3): Rays submarining right-hander Chad Bradford pitched a perfect inning, meaning Ryan Madson will have the narrowest of margins to work with here in the eighth. Madson's been spectacular this postseason. He pitched with a one-run lead in the eighth in Game 1, so he's been on this stage before.

TOP OF SEVENTH (Phillies 4, Rays 3): If the Phillies go on to lose this game, fans will likely dwell on a play that led off the inning. And TV replays suggest they may be justified. Carl Crawford laid a perfect drag bunt down the first base line, sending Jamie Moyer scrambling off the mound, Moyer slid toward the ball, grabbed it with his glove, and with one motion flips the ball with his glove toward Ryan Howard at first. With no time to raise his glove, Howard grabbed the ball bare-handed a split second either before or after Crawford's foot landed on the bag. First base umpire Tom Hallion ruled it was after, but replay shows Howard had the ball as Crawford's foot was still on the way down. Crawford went on to move to third base on Dioner Navarro's double, then scored on a groundout by Gabe Gross. Navarro later scored on a ground out by Jason Bartlett. Anyway, Moyer left the game after getting Gross to ground out. The old man done good. Final line: 6 1/3 innings, three runs, three earned, five hits, one walk, five strikeouts. After Navarro's double, Charlie Manuel left him in to face Gabe Gross, an interesting decision given that he had Scott Eyre warm in the bullpen and Gross had put a charge into a sacrifice fly the first time he faced Moyer. But I guess Manuel figured that if he brought Eyre in, the Rays would have countered with either Rocco Baldelli or Willy Aybar. And I guess he liked the Moyer-Eyre match-up better. Chad Durbin walked the one batter he faced, bringing on Eyre to face Akinori Iwamura. Eyre struck him out on a 3-2 fastball. No margin for error for either Madson or Lidge. Should be an entertaining final couple of innings.

BOTTOM OF THE SIXTH (Phillies 4, Rays 1): I guess the Phillies will just have to be content with home plate being scoring position. Ryan Howard and Chase Utley went back-to-back to right field, giving the Phillies and pitcher Jamie Moyer a 4-1 lead. Garza's undoing tonight has been his inability to consistently throw off speed stuff. He can't throw it for strikes, which means he has to rely on his fastball. And this team kills fastballs. He tried feeding Howard a couple of sliders, but the first one went for a ball and his second one didn't slide at all. Howard knocked that second one out of the park. Giving Moyer a three-run lead here is huge. Now, he has some rope with which to make it through the seventh, and the Phillies could avoid going to their bullpen until the eighth. At that point, it is Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge time. Stay tuned.

TOP OF THE SIXTH (Phillies 2, Rays 1): This just in: Evan Longoria can swing the bat. After striking out in his first two plate appearances, the rookie third baseman was inches away from giving the Rays a 3-2 lead. With B.J. Upton on second, Longoria put  charge into a Moyer fastball. Somehow, the fly ball petered out at the wall, where Pat Burrell ended the inning by catching it. The Phillies appeared to catch a break when B.J. Upton broke for second before Moyer made his motion to home. But Upton beat out the ensuing throw by Ryan Howard to bring Longoria to the plate with two out. Nevertheless, the Phillies still lead. It will be very interesting to see how long Manuel lets Moyer go. Carl Crawford is leading off the next inning. There is still no action in the Phillies bullpen, which would seem to indicate that the Phillies are heading into the seventh with Moyer pitching the entire thing. We'll see, though.

BOTTOM OF THE FIFTH (Phillies 2, Rays 1): Matt Garza has slipped into a little bit of a groove here. Carlos Ruiz drew a walk to lead off the inning, but Jamie Moyer popped a bunt foul and failed to move him over. Jimmy Rollins made good contact but lined out, and Jayson Werth flew out to end the inning. Garza is struggling to throw his off speed stuff for strikes, but he seems to be keeping the Phillies off balance enough to be effective with his excellent fastball. Still no action in either bullpen. Garza is at 81 pitches by my count.

TOP OF THE FIFTH (Phillies 2, Rays 1): Our national baseball writer, Paul Hagen, warned me about this before the game, but I didn't believe it until now. It is much, much quieter here than I expected. The reason, of course, is that a lot of the leather-lunged faction of fans weren't able to get tickets to the Series. Think about it. After handing out tickets to the Rays and family and corporate sponsors and friends of Major League Baseball, the population of true hardcore fans is down. Indeed, it isn't nearly as rowdy as it was during the NLCS or even the later stages of September. That said, Jamie Moyer is pitching a heck of a game. He gave up a leadoff single to Dioner Navarro that Jimmy Rollins couldn't track down to his right, but retired the next three batters in order. He's up around 70 pitches now, so he should have at least another inning and maybe two in him.

BOTTOM OF THE FOURTH (Phillies 2, Rays 1): Matt Garza seems to be settling down. He also seems to be realizing that man does not live by fastball alone. He struck both Pat Burrell and Pedro Feliz out on sliders that ran away from them out of the zone. He got Shane Victorino on a nice fastball up and in, but in the zone. Victorino disagreed. It was a borderline pitch, but it was a good call by Fieldin Culbreath (I'm going to type that name as many times as possible tonight). Good news for the Phillies is Garza's pitch count is in the mid 60's through four.

TOP OF THE FOURTH (Phillies 2, Rays 1):  More good news/bad news. We'll start with the bad news first again. Jamie Moyer is throwing  a lot of pitches. He is up to 58. The Rays are taking him deep into counts. But the good news is that he's throwing those pitches very, very well. He's getting the calls he needs to get and he is painting the black with precision. Evan Longoria just had another clueless at-bat against him, striking out for the second straight time. He got Carl Crawford to make a bad swing on an outside pitch, popping him out to left field. Moyer has now retired nine straight. Still 2-1, thanks to Ruiz's homer.

BOTTOM OF THE THIRD (Phillies 2, Rays 1): The bad news is, the Phillies lost a scoring opportunity when Rays catcher Dioner Navarro gunned down Jimmy Rollins trying to steal second. Jayson Werth follwed the CS up with a two-strike base hit the opposite way, which would have put runners on either first and second or first and third with no out. As it was, Chase Utley lined out to center field and Ryan Howard grounded out into the shift to end the inning. That said, the Phillies are making good contact with Garza. You can hear it every time their bat meets the ball. You saw it in Carlos Ruiz's home run in the second. More good news: Rollins, who was 0-for-10 in the first two games of the series, is now 2-for-2 tonight.

TOP OF THE THIRD (Phillies 2, Rays 1): I'm sure Fox cameras caught this, but B.J. Upton was not too happy with home plate umpire Fieldin Culbreath after he called him out on strikes to end the third inning. Pitch looked good to me, but Upton disagreed. Regardless of the run he allowed in the first, Moyer looks very sharp tonight. That's a good sign for the Phillies. 1-2-3 for the first time tonight. By the way, how great of a name is Fieldin'? You've got to change your last name to Grounders at that point, don't you? On we go. . .

BOTTOM OF THE SECOND (Phillies 2, Rays 1): His name is Carlos Ruiz. But people call him Chooch. He just put the Phillies up 2-1 with a solo home run to left field. Matt Garza was very, very unhappy with himself, pounding his mitt and kicking dirt on the pitcher's mound. Ruiz, who struggled for most of the season, has been one of the few bright spots at the plate for the Phillies this series. He is now 3-for-6 with three extra base hits. Jamie Moyer struck out to end the inning, but he has another one-run lead. We'll see if he can hold it for longer than an out this time around.

TOP OF THE SECOND (Phillies 1, Rays 1): One reason these Rays are so dangerous: they have a guy named Carl Crawford. The outfielder manufactured a run all by himself to tie the game, getting two bases on a fly ball that fell just in front of a sliding Pat Burrell, then stealing third to put himself in position to score on Gabe Gross' one-out fly ball to center field. The Rays were tied for the major league lead in stealing third. Headed to the bottom of the frame and its all tied up.

BOTTOM OF THE FIRST (Phillies 1, Rays 0): Three hours from now, we'll look at the Phillies first inning as either the first step in a Game 3 victory or yet another potentially big inning that failed to come to fruition. Jimmy Rollins started things off with a single up the middle, at which point Rays righthander Matt Garza lost the strikezone. He walked Jayson Werth on five pitches, then threw an 0-1 wild pitch to Chase Utley that moved runners to second and third. Utley did exactly what the textbook requires, hitting behind the runners on a groundout to first. The out scored Rollins and moved Werth to third with one out. But Garza rebounded from a 2-0 hole to strike Ryan Howard out. Pat Burrell then just missed a fastball, popping it up to center field. They are now 1-for-31 with runners in scoring position this series. Nevertheless, Moyer needed the Phillies to give him an early lead, and they succeeded.

TOP OF THE FIRST : From up here, Jamie Moyer looked as sharp in that first half inning than he has in any inning in his previous two postseason starts. Carlos Pena had a good at-bat against him, digging out of a 1-2 hole to earn a walk. But Moyer battled back to strike out Evan Longoria, who was serenaded with a collective chant of "Eva! Eva!" During his at-bats. I'm sure that's not he first time he's heard that. But I'll give the fans points for that anyway.

UPDATE: The tarp is off and first pitch has just been announced for 10 p.m. Let's see: 10 p.m. start, 3 hour, 20-minute game, we're looking at wrapping this thing up somwhere up around 1:30 a.m. Fortunately, no Daily News tomorrow, so no deadline tonight. Keep it locked to High Cheese.

In the mean time. . .

Here are the line-ups for game two:

Phillies

  1. Jimmy Rollins SS
  2. Jayson Werth RF
  3. Chase Utley 2B
  4. Ryan Howard 1B
  5. Pat Burrell LF
  6. Shane Victorino CF
  7. Pedro Feliz 3B
  8. Carlos Ruiz C
  9. Jamie Moyer LHP

Rays

  1. Akinori Iwamura 2B
  2. B.J. Upton CF
  3. Carlos Pena 1B
  4. Evan Longoria 3B
  5. Carl Crawford LF
  6. Dioner Navarro C
  7. Gabe Gross RF
  8. Jason Bartlett SS
  9. Matt Garza RHP

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ESPN's Amy K. Nelson had an interesting story today about the Phillies' dissatisfaction with the way pre-game introducations were handled in Tampa Bay. Apparently, the Phils were expecting to have their entire 25-man roster and coaching staff introduced prior to the game, as is baseball tradition. But only the starting line-ups were introduced, meaning non-regulars like Matt Stairs and Jamie Moyer and others who had been waiting a long time to hear their name called the game's biggest stage did not have that opportunity.

Here is the story.

Charlie Manuel was asked about the situation prior to the game today. His response is old school.

"I understand that very much so," Manuel said. "If they feel it is important for them to get introduced, we should do it. At the same time, we're in the World Series. They were a star when they go the major leagues. They've been a star with all the coverage these days, with all the exposure you get. I don't necesarilly like it if they think that exposure is their big ticket. The ticket is getting a hit, getting people out. That's the ticket. I'm not saying anything about marketing, but in Cleveland, we didn't draw until we started winning. That's what brings people to the park. Just because you get your face on TV, that's national exposure and that's fine. But how about getting a hit? If we win the World Series, I guarantee you they all get all the attention. I go out to dinner now and people are all over me. But playing the game comes first. I understand if people want to be introduced. Everybody wants to be on TV, and if you look in our dugout tonight, you'll see people you haven't seen before. But if you are worried about that, how the hell are you going to play the game?"

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Taylor Swift will sing the National Anthem tonight. It's going to be tough to keep my eyes on the American Flag.

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One interesting note on the Rays line-up: Left-handed hitting Gabe Gross is playing right field instead of right-handed hitting Rocco Baldelli, despite the fact that lefty Jamie Moyer is on the mound. In fact, the Rays will have four lefties in the line-up tonight.

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Speaking of lefties, I'm interested to see how the Phillies big southpaw sluggers fare against righthander Matt Garza. Lefties hit just .242 off of him this season. Yes, he's a power pitcher, which would seem to work to the benefit of the Phillies. But he also has a pretty good slider and a curve, both of which Ryan Howard has seen a steady diet of this postseason.

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We have no paper tomorrow, so I'll try to update this blog throughout the game. So if you are at home watching the game, feel free to tune in for some in-game updates and analysis.

 

 

David Murphy Daily News Staff Writer
About this blog
High Cheese is your place for the best Phillies coverage from the Daily News.

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