Phillies brave the cold, benefit from another blown call, to take a 2-1 lead

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The game story calls Brad Lidge’s save “sweet redemption” but it’s not like it was a shutdown affair. He had shaky control and put two runners on before sealing the deal.  That’s good — certainly better than he had been doing — but let’s not go pretending it’s 2008 again yet, OK?

And what would a 2009 postseason game be without yet another blown call? Because a lot of you
were probably asleep for it, here’s how it went down: Ninth inning,
game tied, Rollins singles, moves to second on a Victorino sacrifice,
moves to third on Chase Utley’s infield hit, and then scores the
winning run on a Ryan Howard sacrifice fly. Except Utley’s hit
shouldn’t have been a hit, because it bounced up and hit him on the leg
in the batter’s box. Home plate umpire Jerry Meals didn’t call the ball
dead. Meals admitted after the game that he blew it, blaming a tough
angle — which is true — and the fact that Utley didn’t react: “Chase
Utley took off like it was nothing,” Meals added. “He gave no
indication to us that it hit him. Whatever percent of the time, you’re
going to get a guy that’s going to stop if it hits him.” I guess
“whatever percent of the time” criminals turn themselves in for their
crimes too, but I don’t think we should base law enforcement strategy
on it.

All of that stuff aside, I’m kind of pulling for the Phillies in this series because (a) they’re
a more interesting team to watch than the Rockies in my personal opinion; and (b) I really don’t want to see
more winter ball like we’ve had in Colorado over the weekend. That said, if the Phillies take care of business
today, we’ll have two nights with no baseball, which is a bad thing.

So let’s go Rockies
today, and let’s go Phillies tomorrow!

Nationals complete NLCS sweep of Cardinals, punch ticket to World Series

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The Nationals will officially appear in the World Series for the first time in franchise history. The team that had a 19-31 record in late May, putting manager Dave Martinez on the hot seat, improbably fought back to snag a Wild Card slot, won the play-in game, beat the heavily-favored Dodgers in five games in the NLDS, and polished off a sweep of the Cardinals in the NLCS on Tuesday night, winning 7-4.

After Patrick Corbin tossed a scoreless top of the first inning, the Nationals’ offense wasted no time getting to work. Single, double, sacrifice fly, RBI double, intentional walk, reach on error, RBI single, two-run single, sacrifice bunt, two-run single. That’s how the Nats hung a seven-spot in the opening frame against Dakota Hudson and Adam Wainwright.

To the Cardinals’ credit, they cleaned things up from there. The Nationals would not score for the rest of the game while the Cardinals clawed back for a run in the fourth before plating three runs in the fifth. Yadier Molina went yard off of Corbin in the fourth. In the fifth, a Tommy Edman ground out and a José Martínez two-run double accounted for the Cardinals’ runs in the fifth.

Corbin ultimately gave up the four runs on four hits and three walks with, impressively, 12 strikeouts across five innings of work. Tanner Rainey worked a 1-2-3 sixth. Sean Doolittle did the same in the seventh.

Doolittle remained in the game in the eighth, getting the first two outs before relenting a single to Marcell Ozuna. Right-hander Daniel Hudson entered for the four-out save opportunity. Hudson hit Molina with a fastball, bringing the tying run to the plate in the form of Paul DeJong. DeJong worked a full count, then walked to load the bases. Pinch-hitter Matt Carpenter emerged from the dugout to take his cuts against Hudson. After five tense pitches to Carpenter, Hudson got him to ground out to second base to end the inning.

The Nats went down quick in the bottom of the eighth. Hudson emerged from the dugout to send the Nationals into the World Series. He did just that, getting Kolten Wong to fly out to shallow left field for the first out. Matt Wieters popped up to the catcher in fair territory for out number two. At long last, Edman flied out to center field. Nationals win 7-4.

The only other time the franchise reached the Championship Series was in 1981 when the Expos lost three games to two to the Dodgers. The Expos/Nationals then went from 1982-2011 without a playoff appearance. The Nationals lost four Division Series appearances in a row in 2012, ’14, and ’16-17, three of which went the maximum five games. Now they’re in the World Series, improbably. They will await the winner of the ALCS, which the Astros currently lead 2-1.