Thoughts from last night’s game, you know, the game:
- Jimmy Rollins, for the second series in a row, proves clutch. Yes, a leadoff home run is clutch. It opens the scoring, takes pressure off, makes the game loose, puts the pitcher ahead. That’s clutch. Rollins yet again did what was necessary to get his team off to a good start.
- Cole Hamels: MVP. Fourteen innings of three-run ball against the Dodgers makes him a good choice. He started off the series with a solid performance, then finished it off with a dominant one.
- Charlie Manuel made a huge decision leaving Hamels in the game with two outs in the seventh, and it was the correct decision. Hamels made Jeff Kent look silly, and got a redemption strike to record the out (the redemption came after a blown third-strike call against Nomar Garciaparra). Point is, Hamels is your ace. Not only does he dominate teams, but he wiggles out of bad situations with big pitches. He did that in the fifth and seventh. That’s why he won series MVP. Or was Manuel the series MVP?
- Ryan Howard came alive last night. Three hits and a big two-out RBI through a pinhole in the shift. I was banking on a big-man blast, but those hits are just as huge.
- Chad Billingsley: Small-game pitcher? Nah, the Phils just have a knack for beating righties whose best pitches are fastballs.
- Ryan Madson: Big-game pitcher? Absolutely. His heater was threatening 100 mph last night, real or not. What matters most, however, is Madson looks poised out there. He comes in, he knows his job, he does it. He gives up a hit … no sweat. I’m supremely confident in Madson bridging to Lidge in the World Series.
- I couldn’t pick a better recipient of the final out than Carlos Ruiz. The oft-maligned catcher has hauled his game to new levels in the postseason. He ropes singles and turns the lineup over. Then he calls great games. When Hamels missed high with a fastball to James Loney in the first, Ruiz went back to low stuff. It worked. Only when he over-thought and tried to get Manny Ramirez on a high pitch did he get burned again.
- Good game, huh? Just a good win. Early lead, solid pitching, great defense, shutdown bullpen work. Resembled the game four win against Milwaukee. You know, all business.