In the top of the fourth inning, Jamie Moyer stared in at Carlos Ruiz with BJ Upton at the plate. The young Bossman Junior took a changeup low. Then he swung at a changeup away. The third pitch: the same pitch. Strike two looking. What was coming next? Moyer got his sign, set, and hurled a fourth changeup. This one landed low and inside, just over the side of the plate for strike three. Upton sat down, another grimacing victim of Moyer’s guile.
When you look back at great postseason starts this year, you’ll see Cole Hamels’ myriad performances. Then you’ll see this — Moyer’s little masterpiece, the game that epitomized the 45-year-old lefty’s person. Charlie Manuel:
“After all these years I think he’s earned the right to start in a game in the World Series. I think he’s one of the big reasons we’re here today. He won 16 games this year, and at one time this guy was our most consistent pitcher, whether you believe it or not.”
Moyer’s stat line shows three earned runs. The first came by a squib double, a stolen base and sac fly. The second came and third came by groundouts, though we can say with confidence a blown safe call would’ve erased those runs from existence. The Rays got their runs off Moyer via a little luck, a smidge of speed and a couple nice bounces. I’d call that a victory.
Go back to the tape and see Moyer painting the corners like a professional. The FOX graphic depicting his strike zone (three inches outside, an inch inside) couldn’t have been more accurate. Moyer worked that puppy like he had been using it for 22 years or something.
No play, however, epitomized Moyer’s fantastic night than that blown call. No, not because of the call, but because of Moyer’s stupendous diving play beforehand. Full extension, he scooped the dribbling ball and shoveled it perfectly to Ryan Howard’s bare hand. Look at it again: A 45-year-old man made that play.
Kudos, Jamie. He hit the hill, fulfilling his dream, then conquered the moment just the way we knew he would.