World Series Game 3 Recap: To Garza And Back Again

26 Oct

Rain poured down on the Philadelphia region, delaying the start of game three until 10:06 pm.  The game didn’t end until 1:47 the next morning, and it ended in a most wild fashion.  But to properly set up the story of the ninth inning, one must venture back to the beginning of the contest.  45-year old Jamie Moyer started in a World Series game for the first time in his long career, and was battling a stomach virus throughout.  He hits his spots early on, and ended the first inning by striking out Evan (Eva?) Longoria.  For his part, Longoria looked silly in the first at bat, twice swinging at diving pitches not in the strike zone.  The second standoff between Moyer and Longoria ended in a similar fashion, but the third would be a tense moment with Longoria unleashing a huge swing on a Moyer meatball which fell short of clearing the left field fence, likely due to strong winds.   Outside of giving up a run to a sacrifice fly by Gabe Gross in the second inning, Moyer cruised through the first six innings.

The other pitcher to start the game, Matt Garza, was disgusting all night long.  I don’t mean the movement on his pitches; rather, the constant spitting.  He spit before a pitch.  He spit after a pitch.  He spit DURING a pitch.  HE spit when on the bench.  What is with the spitting?  Regardless, Garza didn’t shine.  Though he thought the Phillies offense was easier than many he’d faced in the American League, he gave up an early run in the first inning by giving up a single to Jimmy Rollins, walking Jayson Werth, throwing a wild pitch to allow both runners to advance, and then retiring Chase Utley with a grounder to first base.  Rollins scored, but a potential larger inning was then avoided as Garza sat both Ryan Howard and Pat Burrell down.  The second inning would see Carlos Ruiz, a man who seems to have only shown up for the playoffs, fire a Garza fastball into the left field bleachers.  Ruiz appears to be lobbying for a job in 2009, and more was yet to come from Chooch.

The game would remain 2-1 until the bottom of the sixth inning, when Garza started to tire.  He’d reached over 90 pitches, and threw one of them into the wheelhouse of Chase Utley, who turned that into a souvenir for the right field fans.  This was the second homer of the Series for Utley, who had been struggling a bit in the playoffs.  Another man struggling in the playoffs, Ryan Howard, followed suit with a bomb to right field.  Back-to-back homers widened the lead for the home team to 4-1. As the game officially moved to Sunday, the Phillies were riding high with a three run lead and a pitcher at the mound in complete control.

The seventh inning would then come,  and Jamie Moyer would hit a wall . An infield single, a double, and a groundout put a runner across the board and forced Charlie Manuel to go his bullpen, calling on Chad Durbin to get out of the jam.  He allowed a run on another groundout, walked Willie Aybar,  but Scott Eyre then came in and struck out Akinori Iwamura  swinging to preserve the Phillies 4-3 lead.

Another inning went by, and the Phillies found themselves in another jam.  BJ Upton proved to be a menace to Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz, as Upton stole second base after a leadoff single, then stole third and scrambled home after a throwing error by Carlos Ruiz.  With the game tied, Ruiz could’ve potentially been the goat of the game. The ninth inning would give him a chance to redeem himself.

Eric Bruntlett led off the bottom of the ninth inning by getting plunked by JP Howell. Grant Balfour then relieved Howell, and proceeded to throw a wild pitch which allowed to get to second…but a throwing error by Rays catcher Dionner Navarro, which was launched into center field, sent Bruntlett to third base, where he stood with no outs.  He, and the fans, were waiting, hoping, for him to be advanced home by his teammates.  Two intentional walks later, the bases were juiced for one Carlos Ruiz.  The Rays put the right fielder in the infield.  All the pressure was on Balfour to get out of this jam, and all the pressure was on Ruiz to deliver for the home team.  Ruiz swung at a Balfour pitch and topped it, and everybody watched as it dribbled down the third base line.  Evan Longoria was ready at third, charged at it and then hastily flipped it towards Navarro, who was at the plate but saw it sail past him as Eric Bruntlett crossed home.  Victory was in the Phillies hands that night, and Carlos Ruiz came through in a most unusual way.  He hit a home run earlier in the game, but a lucky swing dribbler down the third base line was what ended the game in the Phillies favor.  As others have put it, this couldn’t be scripted any better, folks.  Phillies 5  Rays 4

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