Take a deep breath Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Phillies clinched the National League Division Series with their 5-4 victory over the Colorado Rockies. Just when all life was sucked out, the Phillies dramatically rallied in the ninth inning.
Cliff Lee was spectacular. In 7.1 innings, Lee allowed three runs (1 earned). He gave up five hits, walked three, and struck out five. However, his dominant performance diminished when Ryan Madson came into relieve in the eighth.
Shane Victorino started the scoring with a solo shot in the first inning. Jayson Werth’s home run in the sixth inning made it 2-0. Troy Tulowitzki cut the lead in half with a RBI double against Lee in the bottom half of the sixth.
Lee started the eighth inning, but was replaced by Ryan Madson after the circus came to town. Dexter Fowler reached with a walk. Todd Helton hit a soft grounder to Chase Utley who reached out to tag Fowler, but he went airborne, leaping over Utley. Utley flipped to Rollins at second, but he missed the catch. Everybody was safe, and Madson entered with one out as part of a key double switch. Ben Francisco entered the game for Raul Ibanez and made a terrific diving catch, robbing Tulowitzski.
With two outs, Madson could see his way out of the inning. How quickly a stellar performance from Lee and an amazing catch were erased. Jason Giambi’s RBI single tied the game.
Yorvit Torrealba caused the Phillies a lot of trouble, homering off Cole Hamels earlier in the series. He struck again, ripping the hearts out of Philadelphia fans all across the country with a two-run, go-ahead double that left him dancing for joy on second base.
It seemed as if the game was over – get ready for game five, they said. The Phillies stranding the bases loaded twice proved to be too costly. And why didn’t Charlie Manuel keep Lee in? Well, let’s not forget the Phillies led the league in come from behind wins in 2009. Once again, they showed their resilience.
With two outs in the ninth inning and Shane Victorino on second, Chase Utley drew a walk against closer Huston Street. Then, Ryan Howard clobbered Street’s 2-1 offering over the head of Carlos Gonzalez. Victorino rounded third, but missed the bag. As he went back to tag, he saw Utley hot on his heels. Victorino and Utley scored in sequence, tying the game at four. Jayson Werth followed with a RBI single, giving the Phillies a 5-4 lead.
It was not Brad Lidge who started the ninth, but Scott Eyre. Eyre rolled his ankle on Sunday night, but that did not stop the lefty from getting two quick outs. He allowed two runners, which left it was up to Lidge to seal the deal. He did as Tulowitzski chased a nasty slider to end the game.
This game – and this entire series – will go down in the books as one of the greatest match-ups in Phillies franchise history. The Rockies played the Phillies tough, but luckily the Phillies finished on top. Los Angeles Dodgers, we’ll meet again on Thursday.