AP Photo/Julie Jacobson
After all the talk of the Phillies not having what it takes, they took the National League Pennant again. The team that had stunned the Dodgers with routs and comebacks in the series, ended it with pure perfection. Two years, two pennants, one big celebration in South Philly.
The Phillies were one game away from returning to the World Series. Their comeback victory and rout in Games 3 and 4 left little doubt the series would not return to LA. Cole Hamels was on the mound for yet another clincher, and even though things didn’t start as planned, the Phillies finished off the Dodgers in grand style. Hamels allowed a first inning home run to Andre Ethier, but Jayson Werth had an answer, blasting a three-run shot to right field in the bottom half of the frame. The two teams traded runs in the second on home runs by James Loney and Pedro Feliz. The bottom of the fourth marked the point where the Phillies started to pull away, with two runs scoring in the inning, one on a Raul Ibanez double, then another when Shane Victorino was hit with the bases loaded. Hamels again gave one back, on another solo home run, this time by Orlando Hudson, ending his night. It may have been the only thing not perfect for the Phillies, as Hamels would earn a no decision after 4.1 innings. It took two pitchers to finish the inning, but Chad Durbin closed off the fifth, and would eventually earn the win. The Phillies would just keep extending the lead. In the sixth, it was Shane Victorino who went yard, blasting a tremendous two-run shot. In the seventh, Werth homered again, this time to centerfield, to make it a 9-3 game. By this point, the party was already starting. There was no way the Phillies would lose this game. Not even Matt Kemp’s eighth inning RBI single could produce a trace of doubt, and any possible doubts were completely erased when Jimmy Rollins scored on a wild pitch in the eighth. In the ninth, it was Brad Lidge, who perfectly finished the game and the series. Once again, the Phillies were National League Champions.
This game was special from the very beginning. The Phillies were going to win, you just had the feeling. As the game went, so did the Dodgers season. It was over, and the Phillies were back in the World Series. This was only the seventh time in franchise history this was happening, but also the second time in a row. It was a night where things went so incredibly well, you were laughing non-stop. By the time Jayson Werth rocketed another home run, it was a complete laugher. There would be one more playoff series for the Phillies. They were four wins from the title. Sure, the Yankees came in and dashed our hopes, but for one night, we had hopes higher than Harry was that night. Hope like that is never lost, just dim like it is now. As Opening Day 2010 approaches, it will grow to become the hope that defends championships and maybe wins another World Championship.
This game ranks number two because it is a moment in Phillies history unlike any other. Back-to-back appearances in the World Series, no other Phillies team can boast about that. There are certain times that make you realize how lucky we are to be watching this team, and that night was no exception. Perhaps the only reason it ranks second because it lack the drama that the greatest moments have. You can use that as a hint for tomorrow’s momentous unveiling of the number one game. Still, this may be the greatest game of the year in many eyes. This is definitely the greatest era of Phillies baseball in their history. That has been marked with three division crowns, two National League pennants, and one World Series trophy. This game made it more realistic to say that last line, and makes it our number two game in Games of the Year: 2009.