At a certain moment, you realize what you’re watching isn’t merely some hot start, nor some speculation of sideways habits, but simply the work of a Most Valuable Player. Raul Ibanez is that MVP.
Ibanez’s three-run home run with two outs in the 10th inning defeated the Mets, 6-3, giving the Phillies the win in a terrific three-game series worthy of documentation and conversation. And the home run strengthened his totals: 21 home runs, 58 runs batted in.
The home run — and Ryan Madson’s smooth four-batter save — ended a classic game that ended a classic series. With the fog positioned over Citi Field all evening and a ready rain mixing with an unseasonable chill, the game even felt like October. Couldn’t you see it? A National League Championship Series preview? And the Phillies were playoff tested, from Madson to the clutch two innings of relief patched together by Clay Condrey. Not to mention the second-straight night of tag-team work by righty Chad Durbin and lefty Scott Eyre, who grabbed the win. In all, that bullpen surrendered just one hit in four frames.
That group backed a gutsy Jamie Moyer, who allowed his share of big hits — including two doubles by the pesky Luis Castillo — but ultimately gave his Phils a chance to win. They almost seized the lead for him as the Phils mounted two in the sixth and seventh. Chase Utley slammed a clutch double for a run, then Matt Stairs knocked in another via a groundout. But yet again, it became a battle of bullpens. And yet again, the Phillies showed victorious.
All because of a certain MVP.