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!

Mike Leake loses perfect game bid on leadoff single in the ninth

Mike Leake
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Just one week after Taylor Cole and Felix Peña tossed a combined no-hitter against Seattle, Mariners right-hander Mike Leake worked on his own perfect game through eight innings against the Angels.

It was an ambitious form of revenge, and one that Leake served up perfectly as he held the Angels scoreless in frame after frame. He sprinkled a handful of strikeouts throughout the first eight innings, catching Matt Thaiss on a called strike three in the third and getting two whiffs — called strikeouts against both Brian Goodwin and Shohei Ohtani — in the fourth.

The Mariners, meanwhile, put up a good fight against the Angels, backing Leake’s attempt with 10 runs — their first double-digit total since a 13-3 rout of the Orioles on June 23. Daniel Vogelbach led things off in the fourth with a three-run homer off of reliever Jaime Barria, then repeated the feat with another three-run shot off Barria in the fifth. Tom Murphy and J.P. Crawford helped pad the lead as well with a two-RBI single and two-RBI double, respectively.

In the ninth, with just three outs remaining, the Angels finally managed to break through. Luis Rengifo worked a 1-1 count against Leake, then returned an 85.3-m.p.h. changeup to right field for a base hit, dismantling the perfecto and the no-hitter in one fell swoop. Leake lost control of the ball following the hit, issuing four straight balls to Kevan Smith in the next at-bat and giving the Angels their first runner in scoring position. Still at a pitch count of just 90, however, he induced the next two outs in quick fashion and polished off the win with a triumphant eight-pitch strikeout against Mike Trout for the first one-hitter (and Maddux) of his career.

Had Leake successfully closed out the perfecto, it would’ve been the first of his decade-long career in the majors and the first the Mariners had seen since Félix Hernández’s perfect game against the Rays in August 2012. For their part, the Angels have yet to be on the losing end of a perfecto. The last time they were shut out in a no-hitter was 1999, at the hands of then-Twins pitcher Eric Milton.