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Gigantic 5th Saves Hamels, Phils, Fans, Season

Here’s how it went for me:

At 5 p.m. or so, I was driving through New York, going to see my family, when my brother called. He was DVRing the Phillies game, and said he wouldn’t tell me anything until I got to Philadelphia to watch it. He said only that it was worth watching later (read: the Phils were winning).

Twenty minutes later I became curious, and now closing in on the George Washington Bridge, I tuned into 1210. Harry Kalas was telling me Adam Eaton was in the game? Wait – did Hamels get injured? Were they winning by that much? Actually, no. Kalas relayed something about a nine-run Atlanta inning. My jaw dropped. Nine runs? Off Hamels? It couldn’t be. No way. No … way.

I switched back to my iPod and continued into New Jersey. Damn Phillies, I thought. They pulled me in all season, and then, boom. This is the meltdown game. Right here, right now.

Twenty minutes later I tune back to 1210. Of course. I’m a Phillies fan, I can’t give up. Up stepped Chris Coste … base hit. Ryan Howard scored. Kalas’ voice was exciting. They must’ve been close. 9-6! I’d stick with it, I said. Meltdown? What meltdown? Here came Greg Dobbs to pinch hit. I followed cautiously. Ball. Strike. Foul. Then …

“LONG DRIVE!”

Phone calls galore. Then an hour and a half of switching back and forth, trying not to jinx the Phils while the bullpen got to work. The long and short – this was the trademark game.

The Phils won 10-9, thanks to a seven-run fifth inning. Dobbs delivered the big three-run homer to win it, while Coste went 3-for-4 with three RBI. The win saved Hamels, who gave up nine in the fourth (four earned). He made a bad throw trying to start a double play, then made a horrible pitch to Mark Teixeira. What we have to remember is Hamels is still very young, and very likely, his head got him into much more trouble than he wanted.

Big ups to the bullpen, who held it down after grabbing the lead. Rudy Seanez, Eaton, Ryan Madson, Chad Durbin, JC Romero and Brad Lidge shut down the Braves without much of a fight. Eaton collected the ironic win, but credit the boys in the back end.

Also credit Ryan Howard, who had some big hits in this one. Shane Victorino had a key single in that fifth, along with a triple in the third inning he would score from.

To be clear, it seemed like the meltdown game. It seemed like the game where the words “sell” and “dead” would immediately fly in conversation. But just as quickly as the Phils melted, they came from the dead and gave hope to everyone. Yet again. This game showed there’s reason to believe in this club in 2008. There’s no reason to give up, think about selling or predict death. These boys will be in it all the way home.

Associated Press photo

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