This was a wilder celebration than when the Phillies clinched their division a few weeks ago. How could it not have been, given this wild series, and the way they won tonight? I don’t have to tell you anything about how intense and beautiful those past two ballgames were; whether you are a Phils fan, a baseball fan, or a prematurely jaded scribe, this was sports at its finest and most dramatic.
The series offered an uncommonly generous dose of drama. Cliff Lee began his postseason career with a Game 1 dazzler. Cole Hamels’ wife went into labor during his Game 2 loss. Snow and freezing temperatures postponed Game 3, and when they finally played Sunday night, Lidge saved a tense 6-5 win in record-setting cold.
And then this one. You can read more about it in the game story; inside the clubhouse, I witnessed several genuine moments. First, there was an exhausted Ruben Amaro Jr. talking watching with his brother David.
When the Phillies allowed three runs in the eighth inning last night, their first-year general manager resigned himself to logistics.
“I was thinking about the flight home,” he said an hour later, standing in the corner of a wild visitor’s clubhouse at Coors Field, quiet and exhausted. “Thinking about whether Cole (Hamels) would be ready for a Game 5 start, and about how tough it would be to stop their momentum.”
When they won, the Amaros fell into a long embrace. “It felt like we were hugging for five minutes,” said Ruben Amaro. “My brother and I are very close. This was special.”
Then there was Brad Lidge, who is actually fulfilling his predictions of a postseason that will wipe out his awful summer. A Colorado native, Lidge trotted in to pitch in front of more than 20 friends and relatives, and about 50,000 hopeful Rockies fans. He struck out Troy Tulowitzki on five pitches, the last one a failed check swing. The once-troubled closer pumped his fists, screamed, and embraced catcher Carlos Ruiz.
“This one is pretty special,” Lidge said, when asked to compare this postseason triumph to others. “Not that last year’s division series wasn’t…but to do it two nights in a row, being in front of the home crowd, that was pretty special.”
And then there was Ruiz, a good man who feels deeply for his pitchers, talking about Lidge:
“I really feel it’s the Brad Lidge from last year,” he said, twisting his face to imitate Lidge’s fierce mound stare. “He was so confident on the mound. Now we’re pitching. We tried to force it before, but now it’s like—” after searching for the perfect word, the catcher just snapped his fingers and smiled.