As hard as it may be to believe, the Philadelphia Phillies are the National League representatives in the World Series. Pinch yourself to validate that this is not a dream.
Cole Hamels pitched seven strong innings once again, allowing only one run — a Manny Ramirez home run to the delight of FOX broadcaster Joe Buck — on five hits and three walks with five strikeouts. What more can you ask of the guy? Maybe a Brett Myers-esque night at the plate, but I’ll settle.
Jimmy Rollins led off the game with a home run to right-center on a 3-2 fastball from Chad Billingsley. The Phillies never looked back, scoring twice in both the third and fifth innings (oddly enough, those runs did not come via home run). Hamels dominated the Dodgers’ lineup throughout the entire game with Ramirez getting the only good swing — on a high and outside 1-2 fastball — and Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge locked it up with two scoreless innings.
You have to feel for Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal, as he made three errors in the game, all coming in the fifth inning. With Ryan Howard and Chase Utley on first and second respectively, Pat Burrell hit a grounder in the hole which Furcal could not field cleanly. Seeing the botched grounder, Utley sped around third base towards home plate, and Furcal made a poor throw, allowing Howard to advance to third base.
Later in the inning, with the bases loaded and two outs, Carlos Ruiz hit another grounder to Furcal — a relatively simple play 99% of the time. Perhaps uneasy about his previous defensive plays, Furcal was hesitant with his throw. It came up short to first baseman James Loney, who could not cleanly catch the bounce, so a run scored and everyone was safe all around.
Blake DeWitt was arguably just as bad. In his two at-bats in the game, he hit into two 4-6-3 double plays. His WPA for the game was -1.77. Aside from that three-run triple off of Jamie Moyer in Game 3, DeWitt had an awful NLCS.
On the flip side, many Phillies had a great NLCS, including Shane Victorino, Utley, Hamels, and the entire bullpen. Victorino had the Dodgers so scared that they intentionally walked him twice in Game 5 to get to Pedro Feliz.
I’ll probably be teaming up with John Brattain for a couple more articles at The Hardball Times, explaining why the Phillies beat the Dodgers and why they’ll beat whoever they face in the World Series (likely the Tampa Bay Rays). Click here if you’d like to review the previous articles, perhaps reminding you of how wrong I always am.
Game graph courtesy FanGraphs.