Top Moment #1: Rollins Wins Game 4 with Improbable Walkoff
After eight innings, it appeared to be just out of reach. The Phillies started strong, putting up two quick runs in the opening inning, then sputtered and received little offense until late – very late. The Dodgers, on the other hand, made Joe Blanton work through his six frames, and led the game 4-3 going into the ninth inning.
Jonathan Broxton would take the ball with that one run lead, something he had done countless times in 2009. His fastball was as potent as ever, hitting at least 98 with every push of his right arm. The Phils, however, seemed to realize the urgency at exactly the right moment. For the past few seasons, this core group of guys have given us plenty of pulse-pumping moments late in games. NLCS Game 4 would be no different.
As I sat in Section 330, fortunate enough to score a ticket just prior to game time, the faithful became increasingly ornery as the game passed and the Phillies looked as chilly as the October air. We witnessed countless at-bats go by with nary an opportunity, which added insult to injury as our section became a wind tunnel, sending us into a bone-chilled coma for the middle innings. But that’s how legends – and legendary games – work. A savior comes out of nowhere to lift up the followers who are seemingly down and out, puts them on his back and magically transforms “what could have been” into “what was.”
This happened to be Jimmy Rollins’ night. His trials and tribulations at the dish have been well documented during the last two seasons. He just hasn’t been the same guy who took home the 2007 MVP Award. Didn’t matter, because during Game 4, he had one more improbable, heart-stopping moment left in him.
With runners on first and second (Eric Bruntlett running for Matt Stairs, who walked, and Carlos Ruiz who was hit by a pitch), J-Roll stepped into the box as confident as ever, even if his batting average read .212 before the first pitch of the contest was thrown. During this at-bat against Broxton, as he attempted to save the Phillies from a tied series, he fouled off the first offering, then took the second pitch, a 99 m.p.h fastball, for a ball. The fans were starting to get amped, but with cautious optimism. “This would be too outrageous,” many of us asked each other. With a 1-1 count, Jimmy Rollins would send the 46,000-plus into a frenzy.
Rollins nailed a fastball right down the heart of the plate into the right-center field gap, plating both Bruntlett and Ruiz, and in the process nearly causing a structure failure as CBP exploded from every angle. Fans embraced, people screamed and cheered, and Jimmy Rollins, who’d been long-forgotten as a clutch hitter, saved the Phillies. After his rocket shot allowed both men to touch home plate, he became responsible for one of the greatest games in Philadelphia Phillies history.
-That concludes our Top 25 Moments of the 2009 season. Although it didn’t end quite the way Phillies fans had hoped, it still goes down as one of the best in franchise history. Ninety-three wins, another World Series appearance, and some great games along the way all made for a spectacular 2009.
To view the entire list, click here and enjoy all 25 moments.