Coming out of the fog of the flu this week (the reason for a lapse in posting – so much for NaNoBloMo), I was excited about the Big Halloween Sports weekend that was happening in Philadelphia with both the Phillies and the Eagles against rivals from New York.
The Phillies had left Yankee Stadium with a 1-1 split, which was really good. They had a masterful performance from Cliff Lee in Game 1 (a fairly easy 6-1 victory) and ended up on the wrong side of a pitchers’ duel between AJ Burnett and Pedro Martinez, losing 3-1. Games 3 and 4 would be this weekend.
The Eagles were facing their first tough game since a Week 2 McNabb-less slaughter at the feet of the Saints in facing the division leading NY Giants. Philadephians can sometimes be a little insecure when it comes to being compared to New Yorkers and their city — and here were 3 huge make-or-break games in barely 24 hours.
The narrative for the World Series had been two heavy hitting line-ups against good starters and questionable bullpens. The first two games certainly didn’t fit that bill with dominating pitching, but Game 3 saw last year’s WS MVP Cole Hamels become unglued (as he did against the Dodgers) by questionable calls and bad breaks. He was cruising when Alex Rodriguez’ long fly down the right field plunked off a FOX TV camera that was inconceivably placed IN THE FIELD OF PLAY. After a short review, umpires decided hey-it-probably-would’ve-been-a-homer-so-lets-give-it-to-him. Uhhh—sure, okay. Regardless, Hamels never recovered, coughing up five excruciating runs over two innings, including an unacceptable inning extending hit to an AL pitcher. The Phils bats kept adding runs (including a mammoth shot by Jason Werth), but each relief pitcher Cholly trotted out kept the Yankees comfortably ahead.
And if you’d have told me that Joe Blanton and CC Sebathia would pitch about 6 innings and the score would be 4-2, I’d have taken it in a heartbeat. The Phils were en route to a storybook finish – scoring a run in the 7th and 8th each to tie the game at 4. In the 9th, closer Brad Lidge got two quick outs and the Phils were primed to go into the bottom of the inning with all the momentum – and last year, that’s would have happened. But like Hamels, this isn’t your 2008 vintage Lidge. He gave up a hard-fought single to Johnny Damon – who promptly stole 2nd and 3rd – and then hit Mark Teixeira and then gave up a career-highlight double to Alex Rodriguez to seal the game and take what could have been an anyone’s series 2-2 tie to a every-game is elimination 3-1 deficit.
World Series games like this are won on intagibles – the 10 pitch AB for hit, the diving catch made or not made, the perfect pitch made in a jam, the clutch two-out RBI double. Give the Yankees credit – they’re doing them all right now.
Perhaps as a little silver lining, the Eagles and Giants played the early card to Game 4 yesterday – and the Eagles came out slapped two 2 TDs on the board and never really looked back. McNabb was sharp and the offense moved, even with the absence of all-everything Brian Westbrook.
Andy Reid used something I haven’t seen many years of Eagles-watching – and that was a full-back. Eli Manning continued his recent descent onto the schnide – tossing two picks and looking out of sorts all game. The Birdz cruised to a 40-17 splattering of the G-men to — and I’m not making this up – take their share of 1st place in the NFC East. Man, is that loss to Oakland gonna haunt them.
Personally, I’m glad to be feeling better and really glad that I can recoup from a tough 24 hours before World Series game tomorrow night.