What a difference a year makes.
Last year, the Philadelphia Phillies rode Cole Hamels and Brad Lidge to a World Series title. In this year’s World Series, Hamels and Lidge have imploded in back to back games and now the Phillies are on the brink of elimination.
In a crucial Game Four, Alex Rodriguez broke a 4-4 tie with a double in the ninth inning off of Lidge and Jorge Posada singled home two more runs to give the Yankees a 7-4 victory over the Phillies.
The Yankees now lead the best-of-seven World Series 3-1 and are on the cusp of their 27th World Series title.
While Rodriguez might have broken the tie in the ninth, it was the great AB and then some heads up baserunning by Johnny Damon that was the story of the inning.
With two outs and nobody on, Lidge was cruising. He looked like the Lidge of 2008. He was throwing wicked sliders and more importantly–he was throwing with confidence.
Then Damon came to the plate.
Lidge got Damon in a 1-2 hole, but couldn’t put him away. Damon worked the count to 3-2 and then served a single to leftfield.
What happened next was stuff of legend.
With Mark Teixeira at the plate, Damon stole second. But because the infield was in a shift, third baseman Pedro Feliz took the throw to second.
With Feliz taking the throw at second, nobody was covering third base. Damon realized that and immediately took off for third base. It was one of the most heads up plays you will ever see on a baseball diamond.
Now with Damon on third, Lidge was scared to throw his devastating slider because he didn’t want to bounce it in the dirt and he had to rely on his fastball.
Lidge then plunked Teixeira and the rest was history.
Here are some other observations from last night:
I don’t know why Lidge didn’t try to put Damon away with a slider in the ninth? He kept going to his fastball when his slider was unhittable at that point.
I don’t understand the theory of “If a guy is on third, you can’t throw your slider.” When did Carlos Ruiz become swiss cheese behind the plate?
If Derek Jeter makes that Damon baserunning play, Jeter’s cleats, socks, uniform, and the base are sent to the Hall of Fame.
I have no problem with bringing Lidge into the game at that point. If he can’t pitch in that situation when can he pitch?
Now Lidge knows what Mark Wohlers feels like when you don’t get beat on your best pitch.
All seven other closers have imploded at some point this postseason. The only one that hasn’t? Mariano Rivera. There is a reason why the Yankees are one game away from winning the World Series.
There was only one pitch that Feliz could have hit a homerun on and Joba Chamberlain threw it.
The Yankees got a glimpse of their future when Rivera retires on that Chamberlain gopher ball.
Chamberlain’s “win” last night is the perfect example of why wins for a relief pitcher is one of the most overrated stats in baseball.
It’s taken Rivera only 13 pitches to retire five batters the last two nights. Amazing.
Joe Buck talked more about the NFL than he did the baseball game he was announcing through the first three innings.
Somebody should tell Robinson Cano that the World Series started.
Ryan Howard still hasn’t touched home plate.
Very good, but not great performance from CC Sabathia last night. 6.2 innings, three runs, three walks, and six K’s.
I thought Blanton was good as well last night. And yes, it was the right decision to start him instead of Cliff Lee. Someone other than Lidge needs to a win a game for the Phillies. What’s the difference if it is Game Four of Game Five?
The biggest mistake Blanton made last night was walking Nick Swisher to lead off the fifth. That just can’t happen. It was no surprise that Swisher eventually scored.
Great baserunning by Melky Cabrera scoring on that Damon blooper in that inning. Great read on the ball.
Chase Utley just hit another homerun off of Sabathia.
The last team to come back from a 3-1 World Series deficit was the Kansas City Royals in 1985. Sadly, this was the last time any Royals fan felt any joy.
I wonder if the air has come out of the balloon for the Phillies? As Bob Boone said to Don Sutton on the play ride from California to Boston after the California Angels lost an epic Game Five (the Dave Henderson game) to the Boston Red Sox in 1986–“When the air comes out of the balloon, it’s hard to get it back up.”
That being said, I would be shocked if the Phillies didn’t win tonight. Lee on full rest and AJ Burnett on short rest should get them to Game Six.
Hero for Game Four – Johnny Damon
Goat for Game Four – Brad Lidge
Series MVP – Johnny Damon
Game Five is tonight at 7:57
Tags: Bob Boone, Brad Lidge, CC Sabathia, Chase Utley, Cliff Lee, Derek Jeter, Don Sutton, Joba Chamberlain, Joe Blanton, Joe Buck, Johnny Damon, Mariano Rivera, Mark Teixeira, Melky Cabrera, New York Yankees, Nick Swisher, Pedro Feliz, Philadelphia Phillies, Ryan Howard, World Series