Wednesday, September 16, 2009

You'll Always Remember Your First Time, Part 4

They say you never forget your first time. And with October right around the corner, the vivid memories of my first time witnessing a professional Philadelphia franchise win a championship are ripe in my head. Even with football underway, I find myself wandering back to that glorious month of October. It's something I want to relive again and again. In fact, that's exactly what I'm going to do, republishing my feelings during the wild ride to becoming 2008 World Fucking Champions. View part 1 here, part 2 here and part 3 here.

Today is part 4, originally published Oct. 3, 2008:

An Inning for the Ages

Going into game 2 of the NLDS, no one knew which two-face Brett Myers was going to show up: the one who was the best pitcher on the team in July and August, or the one who was an absolute mess in September.

From the get-go, it didn't look good. After opening things up with a three-pitch strikeout of Mike Cameron, Myers couldn't find the strike zone. At all. He walked Ray Durham on four pitches. Then he gave up a double to Ryan Braun on a 1-2 pitch that got entirely too much of the plate. And after intentionally walking Prince Fielder to load the bases, Brett walked J.J. Hardy on 5 pitches to walk in a run, and just like the Phils were down 1-0 with the Brewers still having the bases loaded and one out.

And then, Corey Hart gift-wrapped a double play for the Phillies. After Myers had just walked three batters, one to force in a run, Hart swung at the first pitch and hit a grounder back to Myers, who fired home to get one and Ruiz went to first to turn the 1-2-3 double play. Inning over. Damage left to a minimum. If I was a Milwaukee fan, I would have personally flew to Philadelphia, cut Hart's dick off and choked him to death with it. As a Phillies fan, I'd like to personally thank him for fucking up so immensely and turning the momentum over to the Phils. It was glorious.

In the first, the Phils had a golden opportunity to pull even, when Shane Victorino—who was moved back to the 2-hole by Charlie Manuel for the first time in ages—got a one-out double and got to third on a steal. On third with one out, my friend Miffy, stuck all the way out in State College, sent me this text message:

Fuckyea we r all over c c ya later sabathia

And while CC got out of the jam by striking out Chase and Howard, Miffy proved to be simply foreshadowing what was to come.

Then the 2nd inning happened. In my 24+ years on this earth, I have never, ever seen a better inning of baseball played by the Phillies. Brett, with his confidence back after getting out of that first-inning jam, set the Brewers down in order. Then, after Pat Burrell flew out, Jayson Werth hit a one-out double. When Pedro Feliz stepped in the box, I told my roommate, "He's going to get a hit. I just know it." And sure enough, Pete Happy made it back-to-back doubles, driving in Werth to tie the game.

Ruiz grounded out, and Myers stepped up. As Arkansas Fred said, I was happy enough to have Myers turn over the lineup and let Jimmy lead things off in the 3rd. But Brett was having none of it. After falling behind 0-2, Brett looked like a real hitter, choking up on the bat, determined to put the ball in play. He took a slider for ball. Then fouled off another one and took a third straight slider in the dirt to pull even at 2-2. CC had enough of that, throwing a 97 mph fastball, but Brett, to everyone's astonishment, fouled it off.

Courtesy The Fightins

The fans were going wild in appreciation for such a tough at-bat by Brett, who took a changeup for a ball immediately after that foul. Everyone in Citizens Bank was on their feet, and the electricity shown right threw the TV. After fouling off another 97 mph fastball, Brett took ball four on the ninth pitch of his at-bat. Check out the personal video by Enrico, who was lucky enough to be there.

CC was flustered, the fans were going wild, and the hefty lefty walked J-Roll on 4 pitches. I was losing my freakin mind.

Shane dug his spikes in and fell behind 1-2 with the bases loaded. And then, the man who has been nearly unhittable since switching leagues, hung a slider. Shane jumped all over, turned on it and I jumped off my couch, running toward the TV yelling, "SHANE! SHANE! SHANE!" as I followed the ball deep into the leftfield seats. Our house erupted so loud it would have given Citizens Bank Park a run for its money.

Courtesy The Fightins

It was the single greatest inning of baseball I've ever watched in my life, and Sabathia was completely shaken. He trotted out for the third and fourth and skated around trouble, and the at-bat that did him in was his second go-round with Myers. After working a 9-pitch walk in the 2nd, Myers again fouled off pitch after pitch before flying out on the 10th pitch of the at-bat. He forced CC to throw 19 pitches against him, and after that second at-bat, Sabathia was completely lost. He looked helpless, hopeless and finished. After giving up a double to Jimmy, then intentionally walking Shane, CC walked Utley on six pitches and was finished. His final line: 3 2/3 IP, 6 hits, 5 runs, 5 earned, 4 walks, 12.27 ERA.

From there, even though the Phillies stranded runners the rest of the way, the game was never in doubt. Brett Myers pitched 7 excellent innings, giving up just 2 runs on 2 hits—following up Cole's gem in style. He also got a single on this third at-bat, putting together quite possibly the best three at-bats of any player last night. It was incredible.

J.C. Romero and Ryan Madson shut the door on the Brew Crew in the 8th, and Brad Lidge had no trouble getting the save in the ninth. The Phils are now up 2-0 and in the driver's seat for sure.

Notes: Kudos to Charlie Manuel for pulling a gutsy move and switching up the lineup. I know Shane has been in the 2-hole a lot this year, but the Phillies set lineup has had Werth batting 2nd or 3rd for a solid month or more. The swap worked to perfection with Shane going 3-for-4 with a run, 4 RBIs, 2 doubles and the biggest hit of the night, the 2nd-inning grand slam. Werth also had a huge game, going 2-for-4 with two doubles and scoring the first run for the Phils. It was stroke of genius by Charlie.

Um, David Aldridge, I love you man. I really do. You are a great basketball guy. But, uh, who exactly is Randy?

Stick to basketball, DA.

TBS is awful. Like dreadfully awful. After Brett went out, the announcers never once mentioned who was up in the Phils bullpen or who was coming into the game. Same in the eighth when Madson was in, they never let us know Romero was warming up for Prince. I assumed he was, but I'd like to know that beforehand jerks. Seriously, TBS sucks balls, and you couldn't pay me to watch "Frank TV."

While others may not be too fond of Shane (fucking moron), I'm a huge fan. In fact, he's my favorite player on the team. Last night he showed why.

That was an incredibly fun game. The Phillies took pitches and worked counts, defeating the most dominant pitcher in baseball in the meantime. I cannot wait for Saturday. And man oh man, it's going to be tough to ever top that 2nd inning.

BallHype: hype it up!

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