I walked through the gates Wednesday night and sensed the feeling, "Tonight IS the night!" I got to the concession stand, grabbed my traditional two dogs, fries, and a soda and headed to the seats. I turned to walk down to my seat and noticed Pedro had loaded the bases, but that isn't what really caught my eye. The seas of white "rally" towels were raging through the stands and even though Pedro looked out of whack, you knew tonight was it.
So he walked in a run. No big deal. The way I looked at it was Hunter Pence was the hitter who had been hitting over .400 against the Phils this year, so a walk RBI was no big deal. The next batter popped out and the inning was over. Then, the glimmer of hope for the postseason came in the bottom of the inning. It seemed this year that when the Phillies backs were to the wall, they would rally, and fall just short. However, tonight was different. The Phillies answer immediately. When Jimmy Rollins stroked that double down the right field line, I knew that the wheels were only starting.
Victorino then sacrificed him over to third, and Rollins was "Chased" home by Utley's RBI ground out. That was something atypical that might have the Phillies turning the corner at just the right time.
It was the next few innings that show Pedro was not Pedro tonight, but he limited the damage to let the offense take over. Astros Catcher J.R. Towles shot two solor homeruns over the flower box in left center on pitches Pedro dosen't normally let hitters get ahold of, some high cheese. But no fear, after the second solo shot in the top of the fourth, up come the Phillies pinned against a wall down 3-1.
Then, the bottom of the 4th proved the magic was going to be tonight. The Phillies rarely produce runs. Usually, get a man on, then POW, the long ball. At one stretch, 10 of their 11 homeruns were solo shots. But tonight, Victorino singles, steals second, Utley walks, and just as I called it, Ryan Howard sent a bullet right past Lance Berkman manning first base. And with Howard on first, while Raul Ibanez taps one to the pitcher, SS Miguel Tejada points to the second baseman to be covering for the pitcher to throw to. The only problem was the second baseman was no where near the base. Utley scores, Howard to third and Ibanez scoots to second.
After the Phillies put 4 on the board in the bottom of the 4th without a homerun, it was time for more small ball. J-Roll leads off with a triple, and not to be outdone, The Flyin' Hawiian follows suit. Two batters later, Raul sends a sac fly to deep right center getting Shane home. He would tack on two runs later with a career high 35th homerun of the season.
The next few innings went by and with a 10-3 lead, everyone in the stands started chatting. Who is going to end it? It looked like Lidge was up in the 8th, but we were fooled and Charlie brought in Chad Durbin. Then there was a lefty and righty warming up in the pen.
Then, Scott Eyre came in and there was one out in the ninth. Miguel Tejada sends a shot to centerfield that looked like trouble. Let me tell you the Hawaiian was Flyin' and caught up with it. Everyone was high fivin' and feeling good. Then, out walked Charlie Manuel from the dugout and our whole section went silent! "Are you kidding?" "I don't think a seven run lead is big enough!" "We want Mad-dog" were cries from the fans around us.
Then, as 'Lights Out" finished his warm up tosses, everything became surreal. Lidge rocked back, delivered and one pitch. That was all it took. A one bouncer to Ryan Howard and the NL East was ours! The stage was set for a chance at a repeat.
The curtain will rise next week. Are the actors ready? Is the show stopper ready? Let's see if Charlie the producer will help lead his actors to an Emmy winning performance one again.