Sunday, November 1, 2009

Phils Pitching Falters as Yanks Win Game 3

NLCS Game 1: Philadelphia Phillies at Los Angeles Dodgers

For a few innings, it appeared that the Phillies were back on track as they seized a 3-0 lead, but their pitching came unraveled and they dropped Game 3 of the World Series. After a strong start, Cole Hamels faltered in the 4th and 5th innings and suddenly found himself in the dugout with a 5-3 deficit hoping J.A. Happ could bale him out of further trouble. The bullpen allowed the Yankees to tack on more runs over the course of the game, effectively throwing cold water on the prospects of a come back.

The Phillies wasted two more home runs by Jayson Werth, who now has a Phillies record 7 in the 2009 post season. His first home run got things started in the 2nd inning and seemed to ratlle Yankees starter Andy Pettitte. A Pedro Feliz double, a Carlos Ruiz walk, a Hamels bunt single and Jimmy Rollins walk made it 2-0. Shane Victorino plated a third run with a sacrifice fly, but might have taken Pettitte off the hook for a really big inning when he swung at three pitches out of the strike zone. The Yankees pitcher averted further damage by striking out Chase Utley for the second time.

Meanwhile, Hamels had not given a hit through the first 3 1/3 innings. Then, a 3-2 pitch to Mark Teixeira that appeared to be a strike was called ball four. Hamels clearly disagreed with the call, which may have been a distraction as the next hitter Alex Rodriguez drove a ball down the right field line that was initially ruled a double. After reviewing TV replays, the umpires ruled that the ball hit a TV camera and would have cleared the fence, so it was suddenly 3-2.

Hamels encountered more trouble in the 5th. Nick Swisher's double and a pair of bloop singles by Pettitte and Derek Jeter tied the score. Johnny Damon then lined a double to right-center to plate two more. Happ worked out further trouble, but surrendered a home run to Swisher in the 6th to make it 6-3.

Werth countered in the bottom half with a bomb that hit the facing of the upper deck in left to get them within a pair of runs. Once again, though, relievers Chad Durbin and Brett Myers each gave up runs to make it 8-4.

After Ruiz homered with one out in the 9th to make it 8-5, Yankees skipper Joe Girardi called for Mariano Rivera to close out the game. He quickly got two outs on 5 pitches and the Yankees had a 2-1 series lead with ace CC Sabathia returning to the mound this evening.

Charlie Manuel hoped that Hamels would regain his winning form from last season, and for a few innings it looked like he had. Unfortunately, similar to many other outings this season, a borderline call that went against him, a home run and a couple bloop hits later everything came undone. Additionally, it appeared that the Phillies had Pettitte on the ropes and could land a big blow in the second, but he settled down when that did not occur.

The Phillies find themselves being down in a post season series for the first time in two years. They look to Joe Blanton to battle Sabathia tonight, who has not pitched well against the Yankees in his career. Although this might be their most difficult challenge over the past couple of years, this Phillies team has always played well with its back to the wall.

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