Even on their best day, Phillies still find a way to make it interesting
PHILADELPHIA -- In Philadelphia, it's never easy. That's just how life works, how it's always worked, how it always will. It's been passed down from generation to generation, from Benjamin Franklin to Danny Ozark to Mitch Williams.So Wednesday afternoon, even on the day the Phillies were winning their first meaningful October baseball game since 1993 -- a 3-1 victory over the Brewers in Game 1 of a fascinating NLDS -- this was how it had to end: With hearts thumping. With rally towels waving. With 45,000 people riding a roller coaster of the senses -- never sure if they were one pitch away from elation or a massive coronary.
Not to mention his biggest.Game 1 in a best-of-five series is always humongous. But when the Game 2 starter is the omnipotent Carsten Charles Sabathia, it's doubly humongous. And that's where the Phillies found themselves Wednesday. Maybe they haven't gone 26 years between postseason wins like the Brewers. But 15 years is longer than you think. Before Wednesday, the Yankees had piled up 78 postseason victories just since the Phillies' last postseason victory.
So a whole bunch of those people reaching for their blood-pressure medication in the seats had good reason to think that last out would never come. And even those eight other Phillies out there on the field with Lidge were beginning to waver."I think he read too much into me saying it wouldn't be the Philly way if things weren't difficult," laughed Jimmy Rollins, after the first postseason win of his lifetime. "I don't think he got the memo when I said, 'I take that back.'"
He didn't allow a hit until Hart (1-for-14 lifetime, with six strikeouts against him) singled with two outs in the fifth -- the longest posteason no-hit bid by any Phillies pitcher since Jim Lonborg went two outs farther in Game 2 of the NLCS in 1976."Whenever you get your first hit in the fifth," said Hart later, "it's usually not a good day."
No kidding. Over eight innings, the Brewers pieced together exactly two hits, three baserunners and one runner in scoring position. Hamels had his best David Copperfield disappearing changeup going. And for the eighth innings he was out there, the Brewers couldn't touch it."He had good stuff, man," said Milwaukee leadoff man Mike Cameron, who drew his team's one walk off Hamels. "He had great deception on his pitches. You try to be patient , but at the same time he has pretty good command of his changeup. I think he got comfortable, and he kind of fed off the energy of the ballpark." In fact, Hamels said afterward that that's exactly what he was trying not to do. He learned his lesson a year ago, when he uncharacteristically walked four hitters in a painful Game 1 NLDS loss to the Rockies. And this time around, he said, his goal was to ignore that thunder erupting from the seats and stay cool. "I knew the importance of the game," Hamels said. "And it's something where, because of last year, I learned what it really takes in trying to kind of mellow out, not to have that sort of excitement where you can't really control everything."
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