This was what I wrote as the bottom of the eighth inning started.
Pedro Martinez outduels Vicente Padilla 1 - 0 as the Phillies take a commanding two game lead in the NLCS. For the 2nd year in a row the Phillies have won the first two games of the NLCS but this year they did it on the road. After two hard fought games the Dodgers now only have a 20% chance of winning the series according to Dodger simulator extraordinaire Xeifrank.
Never have I been happier to rewrite a recap. The eighth inning today will go down in the annuals like the 77 game three NLCS ninth inning when a simple Vic Davillio bunt single turned the game around along with the Mota fly ball off of Luzinski's glove, or the 81 World Series fourth game when Johnstone delivered a key two run home run but it was another error that allowed us to tie the game, or the ninth inning of the 2009 Division series game two.
Game one was supposed to be a pitching duel, but it turned into a slugfest, while game two was supposed to be a slugfest, which to everyone's amazement turned into a brilliant pitching duel. Pedro Martinez did not have his strikeout pitch working but everything else was working for him. For seven innings he kept the Dodgers off balance, allowing only two singles, and zero walks.
Vicente Padilla matched Pedro pitch for pitch for seven innings allowing only four hits, but one of those hits included a mistake to Ryan Howard. That mistake put the Phillies up 1 - 0 headed into the bottom of the eighth as Howard deposited it into pavilion. Padilla deserved better but the Dodgers could do nothing with Pedro who took his 37 year old arm to the mound and reminded Dodger fans once again about the biggest mistake in Dodger history. You would have thought we had paid that price already but he was back once more to extract even more revenge. However what started out as a bitter pill quickly turned into a dollop of molases, as the Dodgers finally chased the Pedro ghost away with as stirring a comeback as we've ever had considering the circumstances.
Headed into the bottom of the 8th the Phillies only had a one run cushion when they called upon their suspect bullpen to finish the job Pedro had started. Chan Ho Park who blew away Matt Kemp in a key situation last night was the first person out of the bullpen asked to hold the lead. The first batter he faced was Casey Blake who had been hitless so far in the NLCS. Casey proving that the past means nothing led off the 8th with a single, and Dodger fan hopes were raised with game two hero Division series hero Belliard striding to the plate. Juan Pierre entered as a pinch runner for Blake. Has anyone been hotter then Belliard since the Dodgers acquired him? Joe has run with the hot hand but instead of letting him swing away he had Belliard attempt to bunt. On the first pitch he fouled it off but on the 2nd pitch he got his clumsy bunt down and just like Daviilio in 77 he beat it out for a single. 1st and 2nd, no outs, down one run, Russell Martin takes his spot in the batter box. Martin tried to bunt then worked the count full only to hit a tailor made DP to 3rd base. Just like game two against the Cardinals instead of a DP to end the inning one of the best players in the game committed a costly error allowing Pierre to score and Martin to reach 1st. Belliard was out at 2nd but the Dodgers still had life and a tie game when Utely threw the ball away in an attempt to turn the DP. Dodger luck was again in play. Big Jim Thome strode up and they matched him with LHP Scott Eyre. Thome slammed a single in to right field putting 1st and 3rd with only one out. Go a head run was on 3rd base and all Furcal had to do was put the ball into play in the outfield. The Phillies countered with Ryan Madsen who was not upto the task, walking Furcal on five pitches, bringing up the Bison with the bases loaded. Kemp has delivered many times for the Dodgers which some seem to have forgotten but this time Madsen made him look foolish striking him out on four pitches. Two down, bases loaded, go a head run on 3rd base, who would you like up for the Dodgers? If you said Andre Ethier then you win the prize. The Phillies took out Madsen and brought in AJ Happ who like many other pitchers in this situation in 2009 lost the battle with the best clutch player 2009 has seen. Happ walked Andre on seven pitches and the Dodgers had a 2 - 1 lead with Big John Broxton warming up. We could have used more, but Manny grounded out to end the eighth.
The ninth wasn't nearly so dramatic. Three up , Three down and best home closer in baseball had done his job once again. With this win our series expectancy moves back to 51.9%. I'll take that as we head to Philly.
No mistake, this was a lucky win, if Utley makes the DP who knows how the inning turns out but he didn't and we ain't giving it back. This doesn't quite make up for Chase not signing with us when we drafted him but it helps.
How about Vicente Padilla???????? I've been on his case since we acquired him but it is time for me to admit I was simply wrong. That is the 2nd straight unbelievable playoff performance and this one was even more impressive against the cadre of Phillie hitters. Even I would now feel comfortable with Padilla pitching a clinching game six next Friday. Maybe even confident.
I mean how lucky are the Dodgers? They have Belliard and Padilla playing the best baseball of their careers when we needed them most, and these guys don't exactly have the pedigree of Jim Thome. Ned may be lucky but with players like Magic Marlon, Belliard, and now Padilla, he certainly has a little Lucky Charms in him and maybe just maybe we can find that pot of gold together.
Post Game Notes:
POWER OF PEDRO: Phillies starter Pedro Martinez pitched 7.0 innings today, marking the ninth time in his Postseason career that Martinez pitched at least 7.0 innings.....His last start His career Postseason high is 7.1ip in Game Seven of the LCS with Boston vs. New York on 10/16/03.
COMEBACK KIDS: The Dodgers recorded their third comeback victory of the 2009 Postseason (Game One, 10/7 and Two, 10/8 of NLDS) today.....The Dodgers recorded 42 comeback wins during the 2009 regular season.....Eight of those 42 comeback wins during the regular season came when trailing after seven innings.....Today was the Dodgers second comeback win of the 2009 Postseason when trailing after seven
innings (Game Two, NLDS).
SEVENTH HEAVEN: Dodger starting pitcher Vicente Padilla pitched 7.1 innings today, marking his second consecutive start with 7.0 or more innings pitched.....He joins the Phillies Cliff Lee as the only two pitchers to throw 7.0 or more innings twice this Postseason.....The Dodgers have won nine of Padilla’s last ten starts dating back to 8/27 at Colorado.