Sunday, November 29, 2015

Phillies show glimmers of 2008 champs in Game 1 win

Phillies show glimmers of 2008 champs in Game 1 win

Ryan Howard celebrates after scoring a run in the sixth inning of Game 1 of the NLDS. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)
Ryan Howard celebrates after scoring a run in the sixth inning of Game 1 of the NLDS. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)

The Phillies vowed that once the postseason came, they would change into the smart, patient, pitch-absorbing offense that won it all in 2008.

Beginning with the fifth inning of today’s 5-1 victory, they were.

Jayson Werth, whose name in some language must translate into ``quality at-bat’’ led off with an eight-pitch walk.

With Werth jumping off first, Raul Ibanez ripped a 3-1 double into the rightfield corner. Werth scored the game’s first run standing up.

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Pedro Feliz pushed Ibanez to third with a ground ball to second. Carlos Ruiz fell behind 1-2, fought his way back to 3-2 with two foul balls, then ripped a single into right-center, scoring Ibanez.

Jimenez had cruised through the first four innings on 45 pitches. When he left two innings later, Jimenez had thrown 92 pitches.

Within three outs, the Phillies saw 47 more pitches.

The Phillies added three runs in the sixth inning. Ryan Howard’s RBI double off the leftfield wall was followed by a towering blast by Werth that ricocheted off the deep wall in center. Raul Ibanez knocked him in with a single to right.

From the flagpoles it seemed as if the wind was blowing strongly from left to right. The wrappers on the ground, and the repeated scrambling forward of outfielders after breaking out, suggested the wind was catching the walls and swirling back in.

Lee worked out of minor jams in the first two innings. After Jayson Werth threw out Yorvit Torrealba trying to tag from second and third to end the second inning, It was a bad call.

There were a few others, most notably when Clint Barnes bobbled Jimmy Rollins’ two-out ground ball in the sixth. Running hard all the way, Rollins appeared safe. It would have plated Raul Ibanez with the Phillies sixth run.

After Werth’s play, Lee did not allow a baserunner for the next four innings. Counting the last two outs of the second inning, he retired 16 straight batters before Garrett Atkins doubled down the rightfield line with two outs in the seventh.

Lee then retired Torrealba, who hit .488 with runners in scoring position this season, on a broken-bat ground ball to second.

The Rockies went down in order on 10 pitches in the eighth inning. Lee entered the ninth inning having thrown 95 pitches. He got the first out on one pitch, but surrendered a single to Carlos Gonzalez and a double to cleanup hitter Troy Tulowitzki before striking out Garrett Atkins on four pitches.

When he had finished his masterpiece -- in his first postseason start -- his pitching line read as follows: One run, six hits, no walks, five strikeouts, 113 pitches, 79 for strikes.

Colorado tested Lee in the first inning – and so did the Phillies. After Werth circled under Lee’s first pitch for the game’s first out, Carlos Gonzalez ripped a 1-2 pitch into leftfield for a single. Todd Helton then grounded sharply to Ryan Howard at first, but after stutter-stepping to record the out at first, the big man sailed his throw into centerfield.

Gonzalez slid, and thus did not advance. That was big, because Tulowitzki squibbed an infield single to the second base side that would have scored him. Lee then escaped trouble when Garrett Atkins launched a fly to short center.

After opening the second with a leadoff double, Yorvit Torrealba was thrown out by Jayson Werth trying to advance to third on a one-out fly ball. Replays showed he was clearly safe, but here’s the thing: Ubaldo Jimenez, the Rockies pitcher, was due up next. Instead of finishing the inning, Jimenez led off the third with a four-pitch strikeout.

Werth’s throw was incredible, Torrealba was still safe, and here’s how it made sense: The ball could have wound up in the stands, and then Torrealba – with the pitcher up next – would have manufactured a run.

But still, he’s a catcher…

In the third, Lee singled with two out, then stole second when no one paid attention to him. It was the first stolen base in Phillies postseason history. Lee then appeared to be the first Phillies pitcher to be picked off in postseason history, but second-base umpire Jerry Meals ruled that Tulowitzki’s tag had missed the first leg in. This time the replay seemed inconclusive, but it was all moot when Jimmy Rollins struck out one pitch later.

All in all, a helluva day for the pitcher obtained instead of Roy Halladay at the trade deadline. And a great omen should the team need him for a Game 5 back here Tuesday.



Daily News Sports Columnist
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Donnellon's career began in Biddeford, Me., in 1981, and has included stops in Wilkes-Barre, Norfolk, and New York, where he worked as a national writer for the short-lived but highly acclaimed National Sports Daily. He has received state and national awards at each stop and since joining the Daily News in 1992 has been honored by the Associated Press Sports Editors, the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association, the National Association of Black Journalists, the Associated Press Managing Editors of Pennsylvania and the Keystone Awards. He and his wife of 26 years have raised three fine children, none of whom are even the least bit impressed with the above. E-mail Sam at
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Sam Donnellon Daily News Sports Columnist
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