AP Photo/David Zalubowski
It was the ultimate feeling of heartbreak, then jubilation. The range of emotion swirled over the course of roughly half an hour. It was nervous, exciting, and everything in between, but that’s what playoff baseball is supposed.
The Phillies were a win away from a rematch in the NLCS, and they had Cliff Lee on the mound to get them there. The Phillies gave him a lead early, as Shane Victorino smacked a solo home run. The Phillies were held in check on the board, but Lee was also throwing a gem. Jayson Werth hit a solo shot of his own in the sixth, but Troy Tulowitzki doubled home a run and the Phillies entered the seventh with a one-run lead, and Cliff Lee heading toward a complete game. The Phillies entered the bottom of the eighth with the same one-run lead, but Lee began to tire, and the Rockies put two on with one out. The Phillies got a huge diving catch from defensive replacement Ben Francisco for the second out. Jason Giambi was the last chance at a rally that inning. He blooped a single into left field to tie the game. Yorvit Torreabla broke the tie with a two run double. The Phillies had one last chance to clinch that night, and they needed a two-run rally immediately after surrendering a lead, all with two outs. Game over, right? Not so fast. The Phillies got the tying run to the plate with one out, but quickly saw the second out recorded, and saw Chase Utley as their last hope with two strikes on him. Utley stayed patient and worked a walk. Ryan Howard stepped up with the tying run on first. He had used a rallying cry prior to the inning saying “get me to the plate, boys.” Howard was there, and drove a 2-1 pitch to the wall in right. Utley read it perfectly, and nearly tripped over Victorino’s heels rounding third. Both runs scored on the RBI double. Jayson Werth followed with an RBI single and the comeback was complete. Scott Eyre was called on to close out the game, but allowed two baserunners, so Brad Lidge entered. The celebration began when he struck out Tulowitzki to end the game and the series.
This game was too important lose. The last thing the Phillies needed was a deciding Game 5 at home. The Phillies rally was one of the best. Two outs, no problems. The Phillies carried themselves and let the rallying spirit they possessed carry them to the NLCS, even when they trailed by two with two outs. This team was living up to the name Fightin’ Phils, and they showed it the entire season. This game ranks on the list because of the importance of the game. Rallies are great, but in the playoffs, when every game matters, it’s more important to win, and when you win like this, it’s hard to not say it’s a classic. The comeback kids are the reason this game ranks sixth on the list of Games of the Year: 2009.