Looking Back: 2008 NLCS Game One

May 13, 2009 by  
Filed under Fan News

Since the Dodgers are back in town I thought it would be fun to take a look back at my coverage of the 2008 NLCS, in which the Phillies won their ticket to the World Series in five games. Yesterday I shared with you my preview of the 2008 NLCS post that was originally posted on my personal blog, before the days of Macho Row.

Today we relive the memories from Game One. Once again, the following is the post in its’ original context, with a modification to the links to keep them all straight on Macho Row.

Click here for the original post.

Welcome to the Playoff(s) Chase

You can read my headline any way you wish. Both applied last night in game one.

Biggest Philadelphia win since game one of the 2001 NBA Finals.

As amped as I was for game one of the National League Championship Series between my Phillies and the Dodgers, I was even more psyched when the crowd shots started to be shown on TV and you could hear the “Beat LA!” chants roaring through Citizens Bank Park with the rally towels waving. Even with Cole Hamels letting up a run in the first inning I had a feeling that it was going to be a good night for the Phillies.
I started getting frustrated around the fifth inning but as is usually the case in baseball, patience can be a virtue. The Phillies made the wit for offense worth it with three runs in the sixth inning with a two run home run from Chase Utley and a solo shot from Pat Burrell and the Dodgers could not come back. Phillies take game one, 3-2.

On a night in which it seemed for a long time as though we would be calling out Hamels for not stepping up his game it was Hamels who would be praised for doing just that. Through seven innings Hamels gave up two runs and had the ability to shut down the Dodgers offense when the Phillies needed it.

Hamels gave up back to back doubles by Andre Ethier and Manny Ramirez in the first inning and escaped with only allowing one run. It could have been worse.
Ramirez hit his double to what is probably the deepest part of the stadium that won’t be a home run. Fate? Not sure.
Lucky? Oh yes.

Ramirez went 2-4 on the night but the kept at bat was in the eighth inning facing Ryan Madson in relief. Charlie Manuel made a rare trip to the mound to discuss the game plan with the pitcher’s approach to one of Manuel’s former players.

Whatever Manuel said to Madson and the rest of the infield, it must have worked. Ramirez swung at the first pitch, which was low and outside, and lined it straight to Pedro Feliz. Key out.

After getting through the eighth inning, leaving one man on first, Madson got the game to Brad Lidge in the ninth with the lead. Lidge, showing how clutch he really is, had a 1-2-3 inning.

They say pitching wins championships in baseball, and the Phillies had the upper hand for game one. Derek Lowe was cruising for the Dodgers through five innings, although the Phillies got some pressure on him in the second inning. Lowe could not get through the sixth inning though.

Chase Utley was the story of the night. Many people had questions about Utley’s offensive performance through the NLDS and worried about his playoff reputation which was soiling early.

Utley got off on the right foot early with a single to center field in the first inning. Utley would come on in the sixth inning and deliver the big hit of the game.
With Shane Victorino advancing to second base after Rafael Furcal threw a grounder past the first baseman. Utley uncharacteristically swung at the first pitch.

Let’s take a break real quick. I have said before that one of my pet peeves in baseball is swinging at the first pitch.

It’s just stupid. However, I do have an exception too that rule; It is ok to swing at the first pitch when you hit a multi-run home run that ties or gives your team the lead.

Utley must be familiar with my rules and exceptions. Utley hit a two run home run that switched the momentum of the game from one dug out to the other.

While Utley only tied the game with the home run, Burrell finished it off with a solo home run two batters later, giving the Phillies the lead and officially sending Lowe to the showers.

One of the keys for the Phillies and their offense coming into this series was having the middle of the lineup produce. While Ryan Howard went 0-4 on the night Utley and Burrell didn’t let that bring the team down.

Jimmy Rollins was 0-4 too, which is another concern. If the top of the order isn’t putting base runners on, the effectiveness of the middle of the line up will be at a minimum.
Luckilly for the Phillies, Victorino would have reached on Furcal’s errant throw anyway. With Utley’s home run it didn’t matter if he had reached second or been held to first on the error, but kudos to Victorino for advancing a base, putting himself in scoring position in a key inning.

Here is the lone complaint I will share with you though.

In the seventh inning with Carlos Ruiz on first base, Manuel sent in So Taguchi to pinch hit for Hamels. Taguchi then bunted in an attempt to move Ruiz to second.

On the first pitch Taguchi popped his bunt in the air and Dodgers first baseman James Loney made a diving catch. Ruiz stays at second and Rollins grounds into a questionable double play to end the inning.

Now, if Manuel’s decision was to bunt to advance the runner why would you use Taguchi? Considering the two best bunters on the team are Victorino and Hamels why couldn’t you just keep Hamels in for the bunt?

It was a situation where you are not bunting for a hit so having Hamels at first was unlikely (Hamels by the way had a hit earlier in the game as well). I understand the decision not to use Greg Dobbs, the league’s best pinch hitter this year, and agree with that decision.
In a one run game in late innings I would conserve Dobbs until I really needed him in the ninth or extra innings if it got to that point. I blame Taguchi for not being able to get a bunt down on the ground, but I blame Manuel for using Taguchi.
There were so many other players to use for that. Eric Bruntlett?
Maybe Manuel was saving him for the defensive replacement for Burrell. Ok.
What about Brett Myers? Jamie Moyer?

Whatever. The Phillies won and Manuel made up for his gaffe by telling Madson to get Ramirez to line to Feliz. So let’s not dwell on that.

What we can be concerned about as Phillies fans is the fact that the Phillies scored all of their runs in one inning yet again. They escape with a victory in game one and that is all that matters, but I am sure I’m not alone in wanting to see the Phillies produce more often than one inning a a night.

Game two is this afternoon at 4:35pm. The American League Championship Series starts up tonight, getting the prime time slot.

This will be the only game of the NLCS that will start in the afternoon. All remaining games, no matter how long it goes, will start at 8:22pm EST. Brett Myers looks to continue his post season performance and I believe he will come out strong today.
Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

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