If you haven’t a chance to watch the Philadelphia Phillies in baseball’s postseason, don’t even worry about catching the game in the first eight innings.
It doesn’t get good until the 9th.
In a pivotal game that saw the winning pitching blowing a late-inning lead, Philadelphia beat the Colorado Rockies in a tight four game series to win its National League Division Series on Monday night.
The Phillies have treated their fans to three consecutive games that would give bandwagon fans a good reason to quit. It takes a true baseball fan to put up with four hours of equal parts anguish and delight the Phillies deliver on a nightly basis in the postseason.
Tied at a game a piece in the NLDS, Philadelphia waited until the 9th inning in Game 3 on Sunday to take command. Slugger Ryan Howard lived up to his clutch legend by driving a sacrifice fly to tally the go-ahead run. Struggling closer Brad Lidge, whose ERA looks like the price of an Extra Value Meal, walked two Rockies in the 9th and still ended up with the save.
Monday’s game was borderline ridiculous.
Clinging to a 2-1 lead in the 8th inning, shaky reliever Ryan Madson gave up three runs and put his club in a 4-2 hole with only three out to play with at Coors Field.
I guess the Phillies really like challenges. Down to their final strike, Howard tied the game on a double that looked like a homer off the bat. Jayson Werth followed with a base hit. And just like that, the Philadelphia Phillies showed what a playoff tested baseball team does best.
They never quit.
On the other side of cavernous Coors Field, Houston Street was left wondering why this became the worst night of his life. Having the best year of his short professional career with 35 saves a respectable ERA of 3.06 in the regular season, Street ran into a pair of potholes against the Phils. He fooled around with Philadelphia’s power hitters in Games 3 and 4 and collected a pair of losses to show for his shoddy work. Notching two quick outs in the deciding game on Monday, Street started to pick at corners of the plate and needed to make power pitches to get himself out of a hole. He couldn’t even make it out of the 9th and finished a very short postseason with an ERA over 13.
Meanwhile, in the winning clubhouse, Brad Lidge celebrated another series win. He’ll say it’s a team game (and it is) and that the Phillies have a long way to go (they do). But on a brisk night in Colorado, Lidge did what many thought he couldn’t do anymore. He got the final out in the 9th inning to clinch a spot in the League Championship Series.
Just like he did in Game 3.
Think Harry may be pulling some strings in the pristine press box in the sky?