Friday, October 22, 2010

2010 Chachi #69 NLCS Game 5/Halladay, Lidge & Ruiz

Phillies 4, Giants 2
NLCS Game 5 - Thursday Night, October 21st in San Francisco

If the Phillies go on to win Game 6 and Game 7 of the NLCS and advance to the World Series, it would be easy to look back at the third inning of last night's game as the moment when everything turned around for the team.  Before discussing the third inning though, we need to revisit the bottom of the second, when Roy Halladay apparently pulled his groin throwing a fastball to Cody Ross.  Halladay informed Rich Dubee and Charlie Manuel after the inning that something wasn't right, and he also informed them he would not be coming out of the game.  He gutted his way through six innings, allowing six hits and just the two Giants runs in the biggest start of his career.

Back to the third inning - Raul Ibañez singled and Carlos Ruiz was hit with a Tim Lincecum changeup to put the first two runners on with Halladay coming up.  Halladay bunted the first pitch he saw for a foul ball.  Except the home plate umpire didn't call it foul and Giants' third baseman Pablo Sandoval couldn't find the bag after catcher Buster Posey fired the ball down to him.  Ibañez was safe at third and Sandoval threw over to first to retire a confused Halladay.  Next, Shane Victorino slapped a grounder to first baseman Aubrey Huff, who booted the ball into the outfield for a crucial two-run error.  Placido Polanco brought home Victorino with an RBI-single and all of the sudden it was 3-1, Phillies.  The Giants, who had played nearly flawless baseball through the first four games of the series, were starting to show a few chinks in their armor.

The Giants countered in the fourth with back-to-back doubles from Pat Burrell and Cody Ross.  Ross, however, was cut down at third with a perfect throw from Jayson Werth when Ross tried to advance on a fly ball to left.  Things were going right for the Phillies.  It was 3-2, Phillies, until Werth added a solo home run in the ninth to give Brad Lidge a little wiggle room.

Following Halladay's departure after six innings, the Phillies' bullpen was exceptional.  Needing just 37 pitches to retire the Giants in the final three innings, Jose Contreras, J.C. Romero, Ryan Madson and Lidge allowed just one hit while striking out five.  Madson was particularly impressive, striking out the side (the heart of the order no less) in the eighth.

So now what?  The Phils come back home for the weekend with Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels ready to prolong the season.  Being down three games to two isn't an enviable position, but because of last night's win, and Halladay's gutsy performance, there's now at least a glimmer of hope.

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