...is less cowbell. Way, way less cowbell. Either that, or more Tampa fans who can count to four on the beat.
W00t! for the Phillies, winning a game that was a real nail-biter. This one had pretty much everything that the Series was promised to include: dominant pitching by Cole Hamels, homers, stolen bases, bad defense by Ryan Howard, lots of bullpen tactical matchups from Joe Maddon, and so forth. The one element that was called out we didn't see was a Brad Lidge flameout, and for that, I'm just as grateful, rally.
Ryan Howard looks really, really lost out there right now. A lot of his strikes came on awkward checked swings, a sure sign he's second-guessing at the plate. Or, to put it another way, the Rays walked Chase Utley to get to the reigning HR and RBI champ. That says a lot about how Howard's going right now.
Ryan Madson does indeed seem to have found some extra giddyup on his fastball, which is good, because fastball-changeup is all he's got. The fact that Madson put it together this year after several...erratic ones is a fairly significant part of the Phillies' success story. Having someone who could step into the Flash Gordon shutdown setup role was crucial for a team that scores runs in streaks. Suddenly, I feel much better about the autographed Ryan Madson baseball I bought at a charity auction at a Bulls game a few years back. Much better.
Was it just me, or was Brad Lidge taking a long, long time between pitches?
Kudos to the Rays' pen, which absolutely manhandled the Phillies. Grant Balfour has clearly found the "On" switch again, and he made a lot of guys look silly.
0-for-the-night with runners in scoring position? If the Phillies don't fix that, they're toast. Small sample size applies, hitting with runners in scoring position is not a quantifiable skill, blah blah blah, but 0 for twelve (or some such) is just not the sort of stat you want to see attached to your guys.
Classy, great crowd in the Trop. Even with the damn cowbells.
I will give the Rays credit for using an Alan Parsons Project song that is not "Sirius" for the visiting team introductions, at least.
Top of the first. Utley hits a two run homer. McCarver: "That's a good start for the Phillies". Bottom of the first. Howard and Hamels have crossed signals and Iwamura beats both of them to the bag. "That's a bad start for the Phillies." Seriously, is he part goldfish? Does his memory actually reset every three seconds, or does it just seem that way?