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2007 Phandom 20

The Top-20 Moments In Phillie Phandom: 1-5

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Sun, January 06, 2008 04:24 AM Comments: 6

As we reach the end of 2007, I thought it would be nice to look back at the year that was, and what made me, you, and everyone in Phillies Nation … well … love the Phillies.

Let’s put it simply: There were a slew of amazing moments. From the NL East clincher to every late-inning rally and last-at-bat win, the Phillies were maybe the most exciting team in baseball in 2007. Hopefully, you’ll have as much fun and enjoyment looking back, reading these snippets, as I did writing them.

5. August 5: The Miracle at Miller

You don’t know when comebacks are going to happen. Most times you hope it happens, but it just doesn’t. Past Phillies teams would be predictable at this game: They’d be down two, maybe three into the ninth and start a rally. But, as if it were fate, the Phils wouldn’t come through in the end, and the loss would be the score.

Not the 2007 version.

These Phillies came back more than any team in baseball. The biggest comeback of them all? How about when their backs seemed completely pinned to the wall in Milwaukee.

The game was predictable enough as it was. Adam Eaton started, and of course, they were down 4-0 after one frame. Once Eaton gave up another two in the fifth, his day was done, and it was up to the bullpen to at least keep the Brewers at six runs. Well, Clay Condrey and Geoff Geary did that job. The offense, however, couldn’t get back against the expensive Jeff Suppan. Only an Aaron Rowand single put the Phils on the board. It was 6-1 going into the ninth.

Predictable?

Wes Helms starts off against Matt Wise, and grounds one back to him. Wise can’t hang on to it, and Helms makes it safely. Well, that’s cool. Man on first.

Then steps Jasyon Werth, the inexplicably above average Jasyon Werth. After two pitches, he smacks one to left field that … hey … it got over the fence. Alright. Well, it’s 6-3. At least they’re making the Brewers bring in Francisco Cordero. That’s cool.

Cordero enters, and the best closer in the National League faces off with Chris Coste. Well, very quickly, Coste pops up to second, and pinch hitter Carlos Ruiz lines one to right field. So two outs. Good game, Phils, good try.

Jimmy Rollins — who else? — has to keep the game alive against Cordero, and on four pitches, works the walk. Heh, well, they’d need at least another guy on to tie it. Rolins steals second on indifference. Not a big deal. Then, oh, Tadahito Iguchi slices one through the hole for a base knock. Rollins can’t get home. Well, here we go then, the tying run is up. Now … NOW it’s time for the Phils to be predictable.

Oh look, Burrell is the tying run. Here comes a strikeout. Wait. Ball. Oh. Ball. Suddenly, Burrell is taking a walk. Okay. That’s bases juiced. Okay, HERE comes the end of the game.

Up steps Ryan Howard. Okay, strikeout. No, no, he’s hit! He hit him! Wow. It’s 6-4 now.

Now it’s Aaron Rowand. Okay, NOW they lose it. Right? He hits it, grounder to third … that’s gotta be … oh man! It got through! One scores! Are you kidding! Roberson scores! We tied it! We tied it! Holy crap, we tied it!

Luckily Helms wasn’t in the position to tie it, because he flied out to end the inning (despite being very close to a home run).

But Helms would get his. With two on and two out in the 11th, after stalwart performances by the bullpen, Helms struck one to right field, falling shallow and going back for a double. Two scored. The Phils had an amazing 8-6 lead.

And of all people … of all people … Jose Mesa shut the door for the save (not before loading the bases, of course).

While many Philadelphians ended their viewing of the game early because of Eaton’s performance and a perfect summer weekend day, the Phils gave the stragglers something to remember. It was, really, the beginning of the Phils stretch run. Not too long later, they’d walk over the Mets in a four-game sweep, and not long after that, they’d win the East. So go back, recall that fine ninth inning, and remember, sometimes, these comebacks happen. You just never know when.

4. July 8: Destiny is a rainstorm.

The Phillies began the year 4-11, and didn’t reach .500 until May 16. They didn’t climb from .500 for good until July 21. But somewhere in between, their season turned a corner. It was the moment the Phillies not only began playing better, but became one of baseball’s coolest teams — a group of guys everyone and anyone could get behind no matter what. It was the day the Phillies became a real team.

Cliché? Hackneyed? Maybe, but come on, you didn’t feel it?

The Phillies were playing the Rockies in Coors Field, with both teams straddling .500. (Honestly, who could’ve imagined this matchup would repeat itself in October?) It was a pretty boring game, with Eaton giving up four early runs (what else was new?) and the Phils climbing back thanks to the big boys (Utley single, Howard single, Rollins single, Burrell home run — all RBI hits). With a treacherous rainstorm coming toward Coors Field, the teams tried to finish as much of the tie game as possible. Luckily, the MVP (again) came through.

After two-out singles by Barajas and Eaton (seriously?), Rollins drilled a liner to center, scoring Barajas on a bad throw. Eaton, meanwhile, got out of the sixth with the lead, and it was 5-4 Phillies.

Then, it hit.

The rain came, and the tarp came out. After what seemed like a flawless placement, the wind kicked up and blew the tarp out of control. Fans screamed as groundscrew members went with the tarp, sliding across the grass and hanging on for dear life. Remember, the stadium is high in the mountains — the wind is a bitch.

What seemed like a lost battle became a shocking moment when, from the dugout, came every single Phillie. They hustled onto the field, grabbing an end of the tarp, and began securing it and straightening out the situation. Crew members regained themselves and got their bearings. And the fans in Coors Field cheered wildly. Unselfishly, the Phillies players were risking injury to help the groundscrew nail down the turf.

Victorino was the star, running like a chicken with his head cut off and sliding around to help the crew. Abe Nunez was seen shotputing a sandbag. Utley and Co. were giving their all to the tarp while slowly and surely, the beast was being tamed. Soon, the tarp covered the entire infield, the Phillies were retreating back to the clubhouse and the fans were giving the visiting team a standing ovation. Yes, the visiting team.

The actions were replayed on ESPN, Comcast SportsNet, everywhere. The Phils were the toast of the sports world — for once, unselfish actions trumped the Barry Bonds’ and Michael Vicks. For once, good guys were doing good. And for the rest of the 2007 season, they were good guys. Despite the bullpen meltdowns and tough losses, you couldn’t root against these guys. It wasn’t right. Utley and Co. are great guys. It’s a fact. Being a Phillies fan today is amazing, because these guys are just fun, good guys. We have no LoDucas or A-Rods to root for. We got good guys.

And good guys do win. That day changed the season forever. The play was inspired. The words were truth. The actions were fierce. And the Phillies — the good guys — wouldn’t be denied.

3. July 25: When no one thought it was possible …

You’ve been there.

It’s the ninth inning, and your team is down to the very last out, hell, the very last strike. And only some miracle will get your team the tie. So you wish for some hit, maybe a home run, maybe something else — a triple, whatever. Maybe some play that happens once every three or four years. Anything.

This night, Jimmy Rollins made sure the miracle would come.

The MVP made so many amazing moments during the 2007 season. But you can argue this was his greatest.

Let’s set it up. The Phillies were beating the Nationals 4-2. Cole Hamels had pitched seven strong innings, striking out six and giving his bullpen a chance to close it out. Ryan Madson held it. Antonio Alfonseca didn’t. A double off makeshift closer El Pulpo, and another off lefty Mike Zagurski made it 5-4 Nationals. It happened that quickly. The final two outs of the ninth occurred quickly, but the fans were depressed. Personally, following the game on MLB Gameday Audio, I wanted to throw something into the computer screen. Why the hell did this always happen?

Chad Cordero entered the game for Washington, seemingly the easy choice to end the game and send everyone home upset. As was the norm. It started that way. Carlos Ruiz flied one lazily to right field. Pinch hitter Greg Dobbs grounded one to shortstop for out number two. Ho freakin’ hum. Thanks a lot, Alfonseca.

Then, like so many times, Rollins came up with the game on the line.

After a few pitches, he saw one he could hit. He roped it into left field. It looked good, but became playable. Then, it happened.

No one could hang on.

The ball squibbed between the Washington outfielders and tracked to the fence. Rollins saw it all the way. He was at second. He decided to go for three.

The throw came to cut-off man Jose Batista. Rollins was reaching third when he looked out … and … Batista … couldn’t … quite … hang … on!

Rollins, so aware, so freakin’ aware, sped up again and took to home. Oh my God! Batista’s throw came in …. SAFE! TIE GAME!

It happened. That play that never happens. That play every fan dreams of. It happened.

That’s why Jimmy Rollins won the MVP award.

It almost seemed inevitable at that point. They had to win this game. But when? Tom Gordon closed out an inning. Clay Condrey did his job. In fact, he lasted three innings and did a yeoman’s job in long relief. In the 12th inning, fans all thought the game would end, with Utley and Howard coming to the plate. No dice. But they would end it, we all knew that.

In the 14th inning, our wish came true. Utley drew a leadoff walk, bringing Howard to the plate.

It was a foregone conclusion.

“Long drive!”

Game over.

Not only did Rollins make the impossible play, but Howard put the nail in the coffin. And on that bench, feet from Howard’s game-winning blast, Rollins had this to tell the camera: “Dat’s how you win!”

If you’re the 2007 Phillies, that is how you win.

2. August 30: Beat the Mets! Step right up and beat the Mets!

Of all the Phillies/Mets contests in 2007, August 30 takes the cake. In fact, of all baseball games in 2007, August 30 may be the best of them all. Two heated rivals face off — a game the Phillies could take and consequently sweep the Mets out of Citizens Bank Park. It was unthinkable at the time.

I mean, with a series rotation of Adam Eaton/Jamie Moyer/Kyle Kendrick/Kyle Lohse, do you expect to sweep the Mets?! There was no way. In fact, I pondered if it was likely the Phils could take two in the set. But all four? Wow. It just shows how much passion this group of guys had.

Lohse started the game against Orlando Hernandez, and neither man could get out of the fourth inning. The Phils struck first, as Howard smashed a two-run dinger off El Duque. Then Burrell lined a shot toward the Phillie Phanatic’s nose (homers are all he does against the Mets), before Rowand hit a solo shot of his own. Boom. 5-0 Phils.

That wouldn’t last.

A troublesome fourth inning made it 5-3 Phils, and Lohse had been pulled for Geary. He was no better, giving up two runs to the Mets and tying the score at fives.

In the fifth, the pinstripes would answer. A Howard single and Werth walk set up back-to-back-to-back singles by Ruiz, Victorino and Rollins. Suddenly, the Phils were up 8-5 and seemingly in good position to win. But of course, the bullpen wasn’t finished with its work.

In the eighth inning, with the Phils still holding the 8-5 lead, good ol’ Alfonseca came in to bridge the win to Gordon. Bad move. With two men on, Marlon Anderson struck a double, then Endy Chavez singled home two. 9-8 Mets. An RBI groundout by Carlos Delgado made it 10-8, and the Phils were practically cooked.

But if there’s one thing we learned about the Mets in 2007, it’s that — okay, if there are two things we learned, it’s that:

A: Billy Wagner shouldn’t get two-inning save opportunities.
B: The Mets are chokers.

Willie Randolph tried to get Wagner the two-inning save, but with one out in the eighth, well, the Met killer made his mark yet again:

“Did he do it again … yes he did … outta here!”

Burrell’s perfect swing connected with the Wagner fastball, and it was 10-9. Okay. Here we go.

In the ninth, with the Phils still down one, the setup was priceless.

Werth led off with a single, and with one out, Iguchi pinch hit for Nunez. Werth, straddling off the bag at first, noticed something interesting: Wagner didn’t give a crap about him. “Alright then,” Werth said, and he was off for second, getting in without care. Then he got up, saw Wagner wasn’t looking at him again … so … off he went again. And he slid in safe! Man on third and one out!

Iguchi, of course, came through. Werth scored, and the Phils had tied it at 10. Unbelievable.

But the best was yet to come. With Rollins at the plate, Iguchi noticed the same thing Werth saw: Wagner still didn’t care! Are you kidding?! So Iguchi went, and … he was in! That opened first, and Rollins was put on intentionally. Yeah, for Chase Utley. Great idea.

Utley worked Wagner with a classic at bat. After taking and fouling, Utley was able to work the count full. He waited for his pitch …

Then, it came in, inner-half, down the pipe …

“Line drive … hit to right field!”

Iguchi got a bad start.

“The throw to the plate …”

He slides.

The ball bounces.

“Yes!”

“Whoa!”

“Phils win 11 to 10!”

Insanity at the Vault. Burrell jumps the pile. The Phils sweep the Mets, and do so with the most aggressive baseball seen in Philadelphia in years. There’s no one hero; everyone does their part. Wagner’s the goat. How freakin’ sweet it is.

I followed the entire game while at work. I cheered when the Phils grabbed the lead and went into my 4:00 news meeting with the Phils up 8-5. I came out and almost cried, seeing the Phils were now down 10-8. But in my office, as I tried to work, I followed. Play after play, I became more intrigued, more excited, until, finally, Utley delivered.

I ran outside. Called each and every one of my four brothers. And I screamed.

“I love this God damn team! I freakin’ love these guys!”

The intensity and passion displayed that day on the field may not be topped for a long time. It was the day the Phillies transcended anything else in Philadelphia and became THE team to watch. How could you not root for Werth stealing two bases in a row? Or Iguchi following suit? Or Rollins? Or Burrell pounding Wagner? Or Utley? These guys are absolutely worthy of our adulation, and this day showed it in spades.

1. September 30: Victory

September 29, for me, wasn’t the day. I woke in my Connecticut apartment and drove to the train station to pick up my younger brother. We were going to see Elvis Costello and Bob Dylan that night. Before, however, there was a little Phillies game — the possible division clincher against the Nationals. But it wasn’t happening — it just wasn’t the day.

We arrived at a New London, Conn., bar a moment before the 3:30 p.m, start time, imploring the bartender to flip to the Phils game, though we were the only Phillies fans there. My brother, only 18, wasn’t allowed to sit at the bar and watch, so we sat far away from the TV, watching the game like Shane Victorino watches Cole Hamels. It wasn’t right It just wasn’t the day.

But we watched, hoping the Phils would win and maybe the Mets would lose later that night. But Adam Eaton was on the hill, and his final opportunity of redemption was lost in the disruptive shadows of Citizens Bank Park. Once the Nats jumped on him, it was over. The shadows made it too difficult for the Phillies to pull it out. No home run would even spark a rally. It just wasn’t the day.

The next morning, ears still ringing from a fantastic concert, my brother and I awoke to settle in for the Mets/Marlins game. This time we were inches in front of the TV, as I was able to watch the Mets broadcast on the CW. My laptop, which had given me audio after audio of every Phillies game that season, was at my side, ready to broadcast Game No. 162. A beer in my hand, some takeout pizza for lunch. My brother and I were ready. This was the day.

If there was any sliver of a doubt it wouldn’t be the day, the Marlins made sure to erase it. After the Mets stoked a mini brawl with the Fish, anger settled in. The Marlins wanted to win. Tom Glavine stepped in for the Mets, and became just a hard victim of the Marlins’ will. Single after single, doubles and hit batsmen piled up, and after every big hit, the score climbed. Our emotions grew wilder and more emphatic with each new number on the run total.

Meanwhile, fans — buzzing because of the possibilities — settled into their seats at Citizens Bank Park. They watched Phillies’ pitcher Jamie Moyer warm up, and then, it happened.

FLA 7
NYM 0

The scoreboard was lit and sparked an eruption of joy in every fan at the park. Could this be the day? Could this really be the day? Was that scoreboard lying? Is this true? Could this be the day?

Moyer extinguished one National, then another, then another, and just as quickly, the Phils were at bat. Jimmy Rollins, maybe one, two hits away from securing his MVP, stepped in and bounced one through the hole in right field. Then, he swiped second. Then, he took third. The crowd couldn’t stop buzzing. Chase Utley, with one out, poked a fluttering fly into right field, and though it was caught on a line, Rollins was off. The throw didn’t matter — Rollins wasn’t going to be denied. 1-0 Phillies. Still 7-0 Marlins. And at that moment, the realization was already setting: The Phillies were going to win the division.

The game wasn’t going to end with heroics. It wasn’t going to extra innings. No, this game was a celebration — a celebration of bold moves (Myers to the bullpen), huge signings (JC Romero, Jayson Werth) and incredible singular seasons (Ryan Howard, Rollins). Most of all, it was a celebration of being a Phillies fan — living a life tortured and downtrodden, but grasping the sweet flower of ultimate victory, if only for one gloriously sunny day.

Moyer kept the Nationals at bay while the Marlins made sure the Mets weren’t close to a comeback. While I chewed my nails in nervousness and questioned every moment I was at the train station, waiting for my brother’s train to Philadelphia, some fans at the park were reveling with Moyer’s every out, counting the outs until the division was theirs. Some of us chose to spend this glorious day in different ways.

Back home, I tuned into the Mets game, seeing the game was out of reach for the New York nine. And my laptop told me the Phils were holding a 3-2 lead with JC Romero finishing off a Nationals attempted rally with a huge double play ball. With that one hurdle to clear, it seemed fair to say the day was ours.

That’s when it happened. Chris Coste singled, and one out later, Rollins came back to the dish. He had already scored another run — sliding from third base to the dugout off a Howard bloop single. Now he was taking care of his business.

Back in January, Rollins uttered those potentially damning words: “On paper, I think we’re finally the team to beat.” What a stir it caused. But Rollins wouldn’t back down. Even after a sloppy error in an April Shea game that made fans laugh and squeal. Even after injuries to Howard, Utley, Gordon, Myers, Lieber, Garcia, Hamels, Victorino, Bourn. Even after Eaton and Helms completely blew up. Even after the 10,000th loss, which could’ve defined the season as one of stupid minituae. Even after the bullpen blew almost every lead, big or small, it could grasp for most of the season. Even after all that, he was standing at the plate, a man on first, the Phillies with a one-run lead in the sixth inning of the season’s last game, tied for first place in the division.

So he struck one.

It sailed into right field, and for a moment, the fans leaped for a potential home run. But no, he wasn’t doing that. Not this season. Not with the rare 20-20-20-20 season at his fingertips. The ball bounced off the wall, came off the wall and bounced into Austin Kearns’ glove. Rollins was digging at second. Coste had scored. Who cares. Then, in one of life’s great little moments, the production room switched to the centerfield camera, which had its lens on the dugout, particularly, Pat Burrell and Aaron Rowand.

There really hadn’t been a season where Burrell wasn’t a marked man. The first pick in the 1996 draft was automatically given Ashburn-like status upon his arrival to Philadelphia. And a few 30 HR, .260, 98 RBI seasons later, the fans responded as if he was Steve Jeltz. Broken promises. Overhyped mush. A club kid. A momma’s boy. A thin-skinned bum. He swung too often, and when he didn’t, he looked too long at the down-the-pipe fastball. What a crock.

They tried trading him in 2006, and in 2007 — they being the fans. He’ll go to Baltimore, right? He’ll go to Anaheim maybe, right? But he wasn’t budging. Ed Wade’s no-trade clause on his Schmidt-like contract made him a 2-ton boulder. Sorry, Philadelphia, Patty boy wasn’t moving away. No matter how much you hate that .260, no matter how much you can’t stand that flailing orchestra swing, he wasn’t moving away.

But the second half of 2007 was different — maybe because he left all his usual offensive output for that second half. After a dismal, Jeltz-like first half, he bashed the ball in July, August and September. Literally, he may have been the best player in Major League Baseball down the stretch. And with every big knock (many against the hated Mets), with every aching catch (despite his injury-plagued body), the fans responded. Like he was Ashburn. He fought threw the pain, found his stroke, and most of all, somehow, became a leader. He greeted his teammates with joy, raised his hat high and said all the right words. He even praised those who hated him, Phillies fans, and multiple times toward the end of the season. He respected them. He wanted to play hard for them.

So, when Rollins was gunning for third base, the camera, entrenched on Burrell and Rowand, captured Aaron hitting Pat on the shoulder and directing him to the speeding shortstop. Burrell glanced with shock, awe, excitement. “Jimmy Rollins is gonna try for three!” And the once-hated Burrell was suddenly a child, a full-blown, ecstatic Phillies fan. He was like all of us.

The throw came in, but of course, it wasn’t in time. Rollins slid in safely, raised his arms in adulation and with his dutiful jaw, peered to the sky for thanks. The crowd was electric. Rollins had done it. He had secured the MVP season, secured his promise, secured the division.

As if the celebration needed another big moment, Howard secured it with a bomb to right field. It was the capper, the final blow, the last laugh. The fans just screamed for its flight as the big man trotted home.

And in New York, the game was slowly dying. Mets fans cried, many left, and by the ninth, Shea Stadium was a ghost town. Some miles away in Philadelphia, Citizens Bank Park was an orgy of celebration. For the first time ever. Brett Myers came into the game to finish it off. And after Myers threw one pitch, the crowd blew the roof off again — the Mets game had ended. It was 6-2 Phillies. It was in the books. The game was over. The division was theirs.

Myers struck out the first batter. Then he engaged a fly ball to left for the second out. Then stepped Pena, the final small barrier between the Phillies and their first division title in 14 years. One strike. Two strikes. Ball. A small chuckle escaped, just to lighten the buzz for a small moment. Oh, don’t tease us.

Then Myers was quickly ready, looked in, got his sign from Chris Coste and delivered:

“Curve ball, struck him out! Phillies are the 2007 National League Eastern Division champions!”

Coste popped up and starts running happily to Myers. And Myers, the opening day starter, threw his arms up in the gayest of celebrations (literally and figuratively). Coste came closer, and closer, but then, out from nowhere, Burrell — of course — jumped onto Myers, starting the pile. And the biggest celebration in Philadelphia in years began.

And I was screaming like a girl, crying to my brother who was on the train back to Philadelphia. I had announced the final inning to him as it happened. Then I called my dad, cried to him and laughed, and cried and laughed. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. And of course, the Phillies didn’t beat the Rockies in the Division Series. Well, okay, that’s for this year. In 2007, however, the one thing that mattered most was this game, this moment, this unbelievable feeling.

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The Top-20 Moments In Phillie Phandom: 6-10

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Wed, January 02, 2008 11:48 PM Comments: 3

As we reach the end of 2007, I thought it would be nice to look back at the year that was, and what made me, you, and everyone in Phillies Nation … well … love the Phillies.

Let’s put it simply: There were a slew of amazing moments. From the NL East clincher to every late-inning rally and last-at-bat win, the Phillies were maybe the most exciting team in baseball in 2007. Hopefully, you’ll have as much fun and enjoyment looking back, reading these snippets, as I did writing them.

10. August 28: Yet another ‘mazin’ Mets game

Let’s cut the intro: The Mets and Phillies played, and something big happened.

This contest, second of the ginormous four-game set in Philly that closed August, progressed like a regular, quick National League game. The stripes had Adam Eaton out there, and it was actually one of Eaton’s more inspired starts. He went 5.2 IP and only gave up two runs — a Carlos Delgado homer in the second inning.

On this night, however, Tom Glavine brought his good pitching cap. He kept down the Phils in seven innnings, despite giving up eight hits. It was the usual: The Phils couldn’t get the runner home. Phils fans were slumping in their seats, dreading the usual close loss due to incompetence.

Then, something happened. Willie Randolph gave Pedro Feliciano — who had a lower ERA than any Phillie pitcher not named J.C. — the ball in the eighth. And who else but the MVP to welcome him to the game:

“Long drive, left field, this ball is … outta here! Home run, Jimmy Rollins and it cuts the lead in half, 2-1!”

Half the work was done. A Pat Burrell walk put Shane Victorino — during his bench stint — on as a pinch runner. With Aaron Rowand at the plate, Victorino stole second, then, on an errant throw into centerfield, the speedster took third. Two outs. Rowand ready.

The pitch …

Squib.

The broken hit was so well placed that it ran up the third base line, at first as a surefire foul. Victorino, moving at the pitch, was almost at home by the time David Wright and Paul LoDuca cornered the ball, which spun back inside the foul line and away from becoming a non-play. Rowand was at first. Vic had scored. The game was tied. Adulation.

Brett Myers came into the game in the ninth, and promptly disposed of the Mets. He did it again in the tenth, something Billy Wagner couldn’t do just two days later. The bottom of the tenth came, and Victorino led it off with a single. Up stepped Ryan Howard, who didn’t need a single to lead him. One swing later, and it’s a wrap.

The Phils won 4-2 on Howard’s 35th. And yet again, disgust, confusion and anger for the Mets. How sweet it is.

9. August 14: Russell Branyan. Yes, Russell Branyan.

On August 9, the Phillies trolled the waiver wires and grabbed Russell Branyan. It was an intriguing — if odd — pickup, because the Phils didn’t necessarily need another infield bat. Literally, it seemed Branyan’s only reason to be on the team was to hit a home run in a key spot.

So when Charlie Manuel signaled him to the on deck circle for his first Phillie at bat, Branyan did what was asked of him.

Before this, the Phils and Nationals were involved in a tight, scoreless game. Kyle Lohse was pitching good enough for the Phils, while Shawn Hill had the Phils looking weak, striking out seven in his six innings. For some reason, however, Hill was taken out, and as the Phillies usually did, they would go after the bullpen with moxie.

The Nats struck first, though, and a Tony Batista double off Lohse was the big mistake, making it 2-0 Nationals.

The Washington bullpen proved good against the Phils bats until there was one out in the eighth. Jayson Werth grounded one to third, but Ryan Zimmerman couldn’t make a good throw, committing the error and putting Werth on second. Up stepped Carlos Ruiz, who deposited an RBI single to single.

Antonio Alfonseca was up next, but he wasn’t hitting. Instead, Manuel went for Branyan.

After taking a pitch, Branyan saw one come into his wheelhouse. Then, the mighty Branyan struck a tremendous blow that sailed into the D.C. sky. It wasn’t a question of if, but where. Landing at the upper deck, the blast brought home two and gave the Phils the lead. It was Branyan’s first Phillie at bat, and he did well. Very well.

Tom Gordon finished the Nats off in the eighth, and Myers struck out the side to close the game. A nice job by the bullpen, but the true hero was Branyan, Mr. Three True Outcomes.

His final line as a Phillie: 9 AB / 2 HR / 6 K / 0 BB. Okay, Two True Outcomes. But what an Outcome this was.

8. June 7: Met killer strikes again

As if there weren’t enough Mets games on the list, here comes Burrell with another memory.

This June 7 contest was billed as a battle between two young hurlers. Cole Hamels was 8-2, while Maine was 6-3. Both pitchers were having fine years as new staff aces. Hamels was asked to finish off a sweep for his club; Maine had the task of staving off a hungry Phillies team and keeping the Mets strongly in front of the NL East.

It started off as hoped, with Hamels and Maine pitching well for the first five innings. Rollins provided the first big lift with an RBI single, scoring Abraham Nunez. In the sixth, the Phils struck again, with Howard singling home Victorino.

Then Hamels entered the Twilight Zone.

The first pitch he threw to Delgado in the sixth went over the right field fence. Then Wright came to the plate and gave Hamels a strong at bat, before knocking a blast into left-centerfield. Tied. Maybe it was youth, maybe it was anger, but Hamels wasn’t calm yet. His very next pitch — to Paul LoDuca — left the yard as well. 3-2 Mets. In a matter of five minutes, the lead was gone.

Maine and Hamels would go seven each, and with Feliciano and Wagner in the wings, the Mets need not worry at the time. And yes, Feliciano did his job until walking Utley. Seeing enough, Willie Randolph went to his closer, who despite walking Howard, finished off the Phils with a strikeout of Rowand.

But the two-inning save is never kind to Mr. Wagner.

In the ninth, Wagner set up against Burrell. You know what happened next.

Tie game.

The fans became restless as the Phils grabbed a hold of the game. The Mets became a shell, bringing in Julio Franco, David Newhan and Scott Schoenweis to try and stave off a loss. But it was inevitable. In the tenth, Rollins singled, then was moved to second by Victorino. Up stepped Utley, and Captain Clutch delivered. Double. 4-3 Phils.

It wasn’t over. After a Howard walk, Rowand came up. Single. 5-3. Then, for just desserts, Burrell. Double. 6-3.

Makeshift closer Alfonseca came in to finish off the Mets, and despite a Delgado double, they were cooked. Like most other games in 2007, a Met loss was already in the cards.

7. June 3: Hula on, my wayward son

Not often does a young player step into the spotlight at such an early point in his career. Sometimes it’s a collection of smaller moments that propels a player into the next level. But for Shane Victorino, you can trace his ascent to stardom to one fine moment: Hula day.

The promotion was simple, if kitschy: A traditional bobblehead doll for the “Flyin’ Hawaiian,” but this time, there’s a hula skirt around his waist. Who cared if the doll looked nothing like Vic, it was a cool little toy. “Daily News Live” showed off the doll the day before the giveaway. It was cute. That’s it: Cute.

Giveaway day wasn’t cute. Overcast and just a little cool, Citizens Bank Park hosted the Giants for an early-June tilt. The Phils threw Freddy Garcia at the Giants, and they threw their bats right back at him. Randy Winn led off with a homer and Bengie Molina would add one two innings later for a 2-0 lead.

Giant youngster Tim Lincecum took the mound, and the Phils blew the kid out of the water once they got their feet wet. Utley led off the fourth with a homer, and with Burrell on base, Rowand brought him home with a knock of his own. Suddenly, a 3-2 lead, but that wouldn’t last. Not with Garcia on the hill.

After a clutch single by Fred “The Seal” Lewis and a poor error by Burrell, the Giants tied the game. Then Ryan Klesko tapped into 1996 and brought home two with a single of his own. Garcia would somehow last for another inning, but would get pulled in the middle of that, after giving up two hits. Young Mike Zagurski wouldn’t help the cause, giving up an RBI single and another run on a wild pitch. Down 7-3, it wasn’t looking like the Phils’ day.

Then in the seventh, the tide turned. Still in the game, Lincecum surrendered three straight hits, the last a two-run double by Wes Helms. After two quick outs, new pitcher Jack Taschner was brought in to face the lefties Utley and Howard. Bad move. Walk to Utley. Then Howard … and a humongous bomb into the backdrop to give the Phils an 8-7 lead.

The lead looked safe … until … Ryan Madson came in for the save. Two walks later, and it was Alfonseca’s turn. But Kevin Fransden would erase any hopes there, singling home The Seal for the tie. The fans booed, of course, just wanting some sort of closure.

Kevin Correia, in his second inning of work, brought down Rollins with a strikeout. Then came Victorino. Maybe the fans were holding up the doll. Maybe there was voodoo at work. Who knew. Whatever it was, it worked. Vic lined the second pitch he saw into left field, and as quickly as you can shake your hips, the ball was over the fence and gone, bringing the crowd to elation and ending the game for the Phils.

Vic was greeted thoroughly at the plate, and his face got the pie treatment later. But it was the hula doll, that little shaking piece of plastic, that brought joy in Mudville that day. And it cemented the star of the Flyin’ Hawaiian.

6. Septmber 28: The King has his day

Cole Hamels — welcome to primetime.

In his final start of the season, Hamels faced off against the Washington Nationals. Over in New York, Maine was setting against the Florida Marlins. Forget Maine. The night belonged to Hamels.

He got in a spot of early trouble, but extinguished the Nats quickly. From then, it was all smooth sailing. The cool, calm, collective, cocky son-bitch 23-year-old wunderkind mowed down the Washington nine with his nasty changeup/fastball combination, working in the curveball like we all hoped he would.

The Phils provided enough offense, but the night was Cole’s. The King racked up Ks later in the game, in a Schilling-like performance where he got better as the game progressed. He struck out the side in the sixth, two in the seventh, then the second out in the eighth.

The moment: With nobody on, two out and two strikes on Ryan Zimmerman, Hamels zoned in on the young third baseman. He came up, lifted, hid that face for a moment, then ripped off a gorgeous changeup that slid into Ruiz’s mitt without a problem. Zimmerman went at it, missed it, the umpire brought up his arm and Zimmerman walked away. Hamels came off the mound, calm, cool, collective, cocky. The crowd was anything but.

Hamels came to the dugout with an 8-0 lead, and would give up the glove to Condrey, who’d finish the deed.

At the end of the show, the Phillies were a game above the Mets, as Maine couldn’t shut down the Fish the same way. And Hamels, the son-bitch, was glad he put together his finest performance. No almost-no hitter, no complete game would come close to this — putting your team on the brink of the playoffs … giving your team a magic freakin’ number.

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The Top-20 Moments In Phillie Phandom: 11-15

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Sat, December 29, 2007 11:27 AM Comments: 2

As we reach the end of 2007, I thought it would be nice to look back at the year that was, and what made me, you, and everyone in Phillies Nation … well … love the Phillies.

Let’s put it simply: There were a slew of amazing moments. From the NL East clincher to every late-inning rally and last-at-bat win, the Phillies were maybe the most exciting team in baseball in 2007. Hopefully, you’ll have as much fun and enjoyment looking back, reading these snippets, as I did writing them.

15. September 17: Story of the year

After a thrilling sweep of the Mets at Shea Stadium, the Phillies walked into Busch Stadium II hoping to ascend to the top of the NL East. The offense was ready to rock. Kyle Kendrick brought his A-game.

Problem was: The bullpen brought its F-game.

Ryan Howard homered to start the offensive onslaught. Then a five-run fourth, capped off by a three-run Jimmy Rollins homer, put the Phils up 6-0. Then, with a 7-0 lead in the sixth, Howard strode to the plate with the bases juiced. In true Howard fashion, he unjuiced the bases, and the grand slam made it 11-0.

Kendrick would go out in the sixth and give up his signature three runs in the frame, including a Ryan Ludwick homer. But that was expected — Kendrick’s nickname is “3 in 6.”

After the Phils tacked on a sac-fly run to make it 12-3 (which was incredibly important in retrospect), Charlie Manuel brought in mop-up guy Clay Condrey to finish off the game. Good move — this is why they pay Condrey.

Uh oh. Single. Error. Single (by Russell Branyan). Single. Two score. Single.

No outs. 12-5. No need to worry too much — it is a seven-run lead. Now, Manuel can’t use any of his big-game relievers (Myers, Gordon, Romero) because they’ve been overworked in New York. So, in hopes of patching the game up, Manuel brings in the next bad reliever to mop it up — Jose Mesa.

Uh oh. Double by Pujols. Two score. Grounder. One scores. Line out. One scores. All the while, Phans are biting their nails, cursing their televisions, computers and radios, grieving, grieving, grieving. Sure, the Phils had a three-run lead still, at 12-9, but let’s look back:

September 5: Phillies carrying an 8-2 lead in the eighth, when Manuel brings in Tom Gordon. You know, every game is important in September. Run after run. Brett Myers comes in. Then in the ninth, down two, with the bases loaded, Matt Diaz strikes a long fly to the outfield. Uh oh. 8-7. 8-8. 8-9. Game over.

In Saint Louis, up 12-9, Manuel goes another step up, bringing in Antonio Alfonseca for the eighth.

Uh oh. One out. Single. Walk.

Next up: Kane Davis.

Uh oh. Two outs. Passed ball. One scores. Single. One scores. Walk. In steps Ludwick; luckily, he flies out, but on a long shot. 12-11. And still one inning to play.

Good for the Phils, Aaron Rowand leads off the ninth with a homer. Insurance. Yeah, in this game. In the bottom half, Manuel brings in Fabio Castro, who strikes out Rick Ankiel. Then it’s Francisco Rosario time. Walk. Single. Uh oh. No — a pop to first base and a strikeout by Branyan ends the madness. Phils win. Breathe. Phils win. Breathe.

14. June 28: Jimmy thing

In the MVP season that was for Rollins, there were many precious moments that defined his efforts. Maybe the most overlooked came in a game where he took over, snatching a win from the Reds and supplanting himself as team leader.

It began early. Rollins lead off the game with a single, which paid off with a Chase Utley home run. But as with all Adam Eaton starts, the offense would have to do more than necessary to win. Despite the 2-0 lead, Eaton would get it to 4-2 Reds.

No worries. Let’s do it again. This time, Rollins lead off the third with a double. And, since Matt Belisle didn’t learn the first time, Utley killed the ball into centerfield for the second consecutive time, tying the game.

But here comes Eaton again. A Scott Hatterberg single made it 5-4 Reds. The Phils had to respond again, and did so with a two-run Greg Dobbs double. 6-5 Phillies.

Eaton would, of course, see the game tied at 6. And Ryan Madson wouldn’t let it stay that way, giving up a Alex Gonzalez home run to make it 7-6.

Time for Jimmy to do his work yet again.

With two outs in the eighth, a shocking development: Base hit, Abraham Nunez. Rollins came to the plate, and with the first pitch, connected on a liner to right field. Nunez would score. Rollins would truck it into third. Tie game.

Alfonseca and Condrey would give some normalcy to the bullpen, keeping the game tied at 6 and giving Rollins his chance to win it. In the tenth, after a Rod Barajas walk and (surprise) Nunez single, Rollins came up again with a runner (now Jayson Werth) on second.

“Line drive, base hit centerfield! Here comes Werth! The throw to the plate … he’s safe! Phils win!”

Rollins: 4/6, 2 R, 2 RBI — and not a bad moment in the bunch.

13. September 16: Dobbs helps clean the mucky Shea Stadium floors

After taking the first two games of a crucial mid-September set in Shea, the Phillies were on the brink of totally confusing the Mets into a void. The Mets suddenly couldn’t beat the Phillies at anything — if this were “The Seventh Seal,” the chess game would be long finished. So on a Sunday afternoon at the semi-circle, the Mets tried and tried, but didn’t expect Mr. Dobbs would put ‘em to bed.

The Phils took an early lead off the Evil Half of Oliver Perez, taking advantage of errors and plenty of walks. The Mets would chip away at a growing lead, until finally taking the bull by the horns by the body of Mr. Carlos Beltran. The All Star pounded a three-run shot to right-center, tying the game at 5.

Guillermo Mota entered the game for the Mets in the sixth, and immediately continued the Mets baffooning. Pat Burrell walked. Howard reached on a terrible throwing error to strike a double play. Rowand walked. New pitcher — Jorge Sosa. (Just remember, for our Mesa and Alfonseca, they had Mota and Sosa.) Jayson Werth walked. Wes Helms — no, Manuel made the move to bring in pinch hitter Greg Dobbs. Cue the drumroll.

Dobbs reaches out and lines one to far right field. It tails. Tails. Will it get over the Konika sign? … Yes! The Mets fans, at once, are confused, then deflated. Grand slam. 10-5 Phillies. That’s it. The air is out. There will be no comeback.

David Wright would add a home run, bringing some joy to Mudville. But the New York Nine wouldn’t take this one. Instead, the Phils were one more game closer, on the verge of taking the division for good.

12. September 15: Misjudgment leads to elation

No game was thoroughly as entertaining in the mid-September Phillies/Mets series than the Saturday afternoon Fox tilt. Great pitching, timely hitting, good defense and big late plays lead to one of the most exciting games of the year.

The game was billed as the third start of the season for Pedro Martinez, who returned to the Mets after a long season of injuries and rehabilitation. What a start for Pedro, who after giving up an early run via a Rowand single, blew his fastball and sinker by unsuspecting Phillies, piling up nine strikeouts. Phils’ starter Kyle Lohse hung in, somehow getting out of a bases loaded/no out jam with just one run on a hit batsman.

The Mets took a lead off Lohse, however, setting up a memorable comeback. Down 3-1, Tadahito Iguchi pinch hit with a double. A horrible error by first baseman Shawn Green brough Iguchi home, 3-2 Mets.

Pedro Feliciano entered the game in the eighth, and Rowand welcomed him with a shot to left field. Boom. Tie game.

Sosa entered the game from here, and with two outs and a runner on second, Manuel brought in pinch hitter extraordinare Pete LaForest. And in his biggest at bat of the season, LaForest drew a walk, letting Rollins stride to the plate. At this point, after the season he’d have, it wasn’t a question of if he’d get the run home, but how. Would he homer? Triple? Simple base hit?

Rollins took the second pitch and drove one to center field. It had some distance. Not enough. But Beltran didn’t know how much. He came in a step, two steps … then noticed it wasn’t in his line. Back … back … over his head! One run scores! Two runs score! Rollins is in at third easily! 5-3 Phils!

“MVP!” chants are wild throughout Shea Stadium, and now the Phils can count the outs to a huge win. JC Romero retired the side in the eighth, leading to a Myers save opportunity.

It wasn’t easy. Jose Reyes walked. Then stole second. Then Luis Castillo singled on an impossible grounder to Rollins. With one out, it was up to Wright, the Mets MVP. This was his chance. His chance to solidify his case. But Myers had a different plan.

“Struck ‘em out!”

Beltran was next, and couldn’t redeem himself from his early miscue, lining the final out to Werth to end the game. Karma, how devilish.

11. May 16: King Cole … almost … has his day

For Cole Hamels, 2007 was not only a breakout year, but the year he became one of the National League’s premiere pitchers — suddenly, Hamels is on the same level as Peavy and Webb. If he wasn’t hurt and didn’t miss a few starts late, he may have made a heck of a case for Cy Young.

As it stood, May 16 was the kind of start that demostrated the power of King Cole.

The hot-bat Brewers were in town, and on a clear Wednesday night, Hamels had the cure for the big boppers. He started right away, striking out the side in the first. Then he struck out Bill Hall to lead the second. Already he had a 2-0 lead. In the third, another two strikeouts. 5-0 Phillies. The Brewers line read 0-0-1.

The lineup turn had no effect. Retired the side in the fourth. Retired the side in the fifth. Retired the side in the sixth. Hamels’ power was so strong, Nunez even got in on it, singling home a run to make it 6-0. After six: 0-0-2.

In the seventh, Weeks led off for the third time. This time — maybe Hamels was feeling the pressure — a walk. No big deal. No hitter still intact. Then came JJ Hardy. Line drive … gone. No hitter gone. Shutout gone. Hamels angry. 6-2 Phillies.

After giving up a fly ball for an out, Hamels settled in and took out his anger the only way he knew how, striking out Hall and Kevin Mench. Hamels would go eight, finishing with eleven strikeouts and earning a huge standing ovation. For six innings, Hamels took the fans on a magic ride, hoping to show fans exactly what they knew all along — that Cole could throw a perfect game.

He will one day.

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The Top-20 Moments In Phillie Phandom: 16-20

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Thu, December 27, 2007 10:28 PM Comments: 1

As we reach the end of 2007, I thought it would be nice to look back at the year that was, and what made me, you, and everyone in Phillies Nation … well … love the Phillies.

Let’s put it simply: There were a slew of amazing moments. From the NL East clincher to every late-inning rally and last-at-bat win, the Phillies were maybe the most exciting team in baseball in 2007. Hopefully, you’ll have as much fun and enjoyment looking back, reading these snippets, as I did writing them.

Here’s my list of the top-20 moments in Phillie Phandom (2007 version). First, the five that just missed out:

25. May 23: Despite losing Myers, Phils beat Marlins in extras.
24. April 23: Rollins’ league leading seventh homer helps Phils pound Astros.
23. June 6: Rollins’ homer ties game; Phils win 4-2 over Mets.
22. April 21: Hamels strikes out 15 and goes complete against Reds.
21. May 15: Carlos Ruiz slams home a win for Phillies.

20. June 19: Welcome to the show, “3 in 6.”

Kyle Kendrick started 2007 with a 3.21 ERA and 1.23 WHIP in AA Reading. You know, a pretty good campaign, nothing outstanding, nothing to think he’d be a Top-10 prospect kind of guy.

But a funny thing happened: The Phils prized acquisition of the offseason, Freddy Garcia, mercifully went on the DL for good. The rotation was depleted, with Brett Myers in the bullpen and Jon Lieber on the DL, Kendrick became a necessary option. Nothing about him said he’d be anything more than a 6 IP, 3 ER guy on a good day. But guess what? Kendrick had a good day almost every time out there.

It started against – of all teams – the Cleveland Indians. Kendrick wasn’t pretty, but he got the job done without damage in a 9-6 win. The offense provided enough backing to win the game for young KK, all 22 years of him. And Kendrick was on his way to a solid 10-4 rookie season – one with a slew of good starts (75 percent of the time he went 6 IP with only one game of 5 ER). Welcome aboard, “3 in 6.”

19. May 12: Rain, rain, go away, Greg Dobbs, make ‘em pay.

A soggy day at Citizens Bank Park made a Phillies/Cubs tilt proceed with doubt. But behind a strong start by Garcia (surprise), the Phils held a 5-1 lead going into the seventh inning. (Note: Garcia even had an RBI double in the contest.) Then, the real Freddy Garcia showed up, and began unraveling. Meanwhile, the rain pounded hard from the sky, making fans uncomfortable and players antsy. It showed. The Cubs began slaughtering Garcia and reliever Geoff Geary, putting six on the board to take the lead, 7-5, as the umpires called action and started the rain delay.

With the delay and the blown lead taking a toll on fans, many left.

Bad move.

Once the delay ended, the Phils picked up their whoopin’ sticks. Spotting Chicago two outs, Aaron Rowand singled. Then Chase Utley doubled, scoring Rowand on an error. Then Pat Burrell walked. Then the Great Greg Dobbs struck a triple, scoring two and grabbing the Phils the lead. Then Abraham Nunez singled home Dobbs. Then, finally, came Carlos Ruiz, who slammed a homer, scoring two and putting the Phils way out in front.

When the dust – or condensation – settled, Dobbs was 4-for-4, Ruiz was 3-for-3 and Nunez was 2-for-4. And the rain couldn’t stop the Phils from winning.

18. July 22: “The Real Deal” lives up to his moniker.

For JD Durbin, 2007 wasn’t looking peachy. The journey-boy righthander was Minnesota property until March, when he was placed on waivers. Then Arizona grabbed him. They didn’t like him, so they dropped him back onto waivers, where, a week later, Boston grabbed him. They didn’t like him as well, so they dropped him. Luckily for Durbin, the Phillies don’t have great pitching. A few days later: Welcome aboard, “The Real Deal.”

Durbin was part of the revolving door of No. 5 starters, and for a while, he didn’t seem to hold up well. One day was a solid outing of Kendrick-like proportions; the next start was an atrocious, Eaton-like outing. Who knew what to get with “The Real Deal.”

The Padres certainly didn’t know.

Durbin strode to the mound July 22 and took complete advantage of cavernous PETCO Park. He threw 71 strikes out of 109 pitches, but threw a good amount of fly balls. Luckily, PETCO pushed the flies to harmless pops, and Durbin cruised. The punchless Pads had no answer for JD, and the youngster found himself on the brink of a complete game, shutout.

In the ninth, he allowed a leadoff single to Adrian Gonzalez. A grounder by Mike Cameron looked like a double play, but a rare Utley error made it one out, runner on second. So Durbin did what any good pitcher would do — go with his strengths. He made the next two batters fly balls into the deep outfield, securing his first ever great game. Durbin went crazy on the mound, and why not? Drink it up, “Real Deal,” it may be the best you ever do.

17. April 29: The grizzled veteran has the last laugh.

April wasn’t a great month for the Phillies. At 10-13, the Phils were in fourth place in the NL East and mirroring their great lost Aprils of the past. From the ashes, however, came a guiding light, in the form of a 44-year-old grizzled vet throwing slopballs and turtle-quick changeups.

The Florida Marlins were in town, finishing up a three-game set, and the kiddies were looking to put the Phils away. But they weren’t ready for the grizzled vet, Mr. Jamie Moyer.

With teeth clenched and eyes cast wearily, Old Moyer tossed sloppy fastball after sloppy fastball and crawling changeup after crawling changeup, baffling the Fish into weak fly balls and horrid strikeouts. All the while, the fans grew more excited. Somehow, some way, the grizzled vet was doing something special. With each out, he was getting closer to a no hitter. Could it be? Could it be?

It wasn’t to be. All World Super Hitter Miguel Cabrera ended the charade with a double in the top of the seventh. You’d be crazy if you didn’t think the fans went crazy for Old Moyer at that point. Well, Old Moyer had them all fooled. Leading off the bottom of the seventh, the grizzled vet dug in and grounded a sharp one through the hole in left field. Busting down the line like a man 20 years his junior (how about Cabrera?), Moyer came in with a double. Hey, forget the no hitter, this guy’s a gamer. One hell of a gamer. It was only appropriate he gave the last teeth-clenching performance of the Phils great season, a six-inning maneuver to beat the Nats and win the crown.

Go ahead, Old Moyer, go on and go ahead.

16. August 29: Sorry, Marlon, but you’re out.

Game three of that Great Late-August Series had everything – big plays, great defense, huge hits, runner’s interference …

The Mets took an early lead off Moyer with a David Wright home run. But the Phils came right back, thanks to MVP Rollins and Burrell, each knocking a homer to make it 2-1 Pinstripes. Though the Mets would tie the game at 2, Moyer would pitch well to go six strong.

In the bottom of the fifth, Moyer led off with a key walk. Rollins singled him to second, and Tadahito Iguchi singled him to third. With the bases jammed, Burrell knocked a fly ball to left field – just deep enough to score Moyer and give the Phillies the lead. They’d turn to the bullpen in the seventh.

JC Romero and Tom Gordon did their jobs, and Myers came in for the ninth. After striking out Carlos Delgado, Paul LoDuca rips a single to right field. Marlon Anderson comes into the game with Endy Chavez, the former pinch hitting, the latter pinch running. The latter singles to right, and Werth holds the quick Chavez at third.

That sets up the moment:

Shawn Green dribbles one to shortstop. Myers leaps, thinking, maybe, the game might end here. Rollins has to charge to grab it. He takes it and wings one to Iguchi. There’s no way Green’s getting called out. As Chavez steps on the plate, Iguchi takes Rollins’ throw and is taken out by a suspect slide by Anderson. Iguchi’s throw bounces about after he’s upended, and umpire CB Bucknor wastes no time.

“That’s interference,” notes Chris Wheeler.

He points at Anderson, calls interference, then motions to first, calling Green out.

The game is over.

Anderson is furious, as are the Met players, but it doesn’t matter. The Phillies celebrate the win, another step closer to the Mets. It sets up one of the greatest games of the sports year.

Part two coming tomorrow.

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