When Philadelphia won the World Series in 2008, there was an aura about the team. There was a feeling on the field, in the dugout and in the stands that the Phillies were going to find a way to win.
It didn’t matter who was on the mound, someone was going to get the big out. Could’ve been Cole Hamels, could’ve been Joe Blanton, could’ve been J.C. Romero or Ryan Madson or Brad Lidge. Someone was going to make a pitch.
It didn’t matter who was at the plate, someone was going to get the big hit. Could’ve been Chase Utley, could’ve been Shane Victorino, could’ve been Chooch or Ryan Howard or even Matt Stairs. Someone was going to make a play.
After the Giants’ 6-5 walk-off win in Game 4 of the NLCS, one thing is clear: San Francisco Giants has that aura this year. The Giants are the team that finds a way to win. The Giants are the team that always makes the play.
It had been Cody Ross and the pitching up until now, but the Giants took a 3-1 series lead on Wednesday with the entire team coming through in big moments.
It was Aaron Rowand who made the great throw to nail Carlos Ruiz at the plate. It was Pablo Sandoval, the guy who wasn’t even supposed to see a strike, who came through with a huge double to give the Giants a 5-4 lead in sixth (and after a double was taken away from him on a missed call down the right field line, no less).
It was Sergio Romo who bounced back from ceding the game-tying run with no outs, to retire three straight hitters (striking out two) and keep the score tied. It was Brian Wilson who pitched a perfect ninth. It was Juan Uribe (an injured Juan Uribe) who made the play at shortstop on Ross Gload in the top of the ninth, and it was Uribe who came through with the fly ball to win the game after Aubrey Huff had a huge leadoff single.
And then of course there was Buster Posey. It was Posey who got the first RBI of the game after Blanton moved the base runner to third with two wild pitches. It was Posey who gave San Francisco a 2-0 lead with a two-out double in the third. It was Posey who caught the short-hop throw from Rowand and applied the tag on Ruiz to limit the damage in the Phillies fifth. And it was Posey who got the huge opposite-field single in the bottom of the ninth that moved Huff to third with one out.
The rookie catcher came into the game just 1-for-11 in the NLCS, but made up for that and then some in Game 4. He was Cody Ross on Wednesday night. He was the guy making the big play and getting the big hit in the big moment.
Postseason baseball is all about being the right team at the right time. The regular season is a marathon. When you play 162 games, talent always wins out.
But in October, talent isn’t enough. In October, you need to have talent and be the team getting the bounces.
San Francisco is that team this October. You can see it in the Giants’ at-bats. You can see it on the Giants’ faces. You can see it in the Giants’ swagger.
But don’t take my word for it, ask the opposing manager.
“I look at it like they found a way,” Charlie Manuel said. “We were there and we had a chance to win the game. We had the lead at one time. Like I said, we let it slip away. When we tied the game back up, we had a guy on second and we couldn’t move him.
“Then of course, they got the big hit.”
They got the big hit. Like the Giants have been doing all series. Like they have been doing all postseason.
If you’re a Phillies fan, you’d like to think this series isn’t over. You’d like to think the Phillies still have a shot. And with Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Hamels throwing the next three, you can’t count them out.
But the odds are long now for Philly. Teams that take a 3-1 lead in the LCS are 24-6 since MLB went to a seven-game series in 1985. The last team to come back from 3-1 and win the series was the ’07 Red Sox.
Can the Phillies accomplish the feat? It’s possible … I guess. But the Phillies aren’t doing the little things as well as the Giants. The Phillies aren’t making the plays as often as the Giants. The Phillies aren’t executing their pitches as well as the Giants.
Can the Phillies turn that all around starting tomorrow? Of course … they can. But after watching these two teams play four games, it sure doesn’t feel like they’re going to.
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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.