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Sunday, October 02, 2011

At the Bank on Saturday Night: The Old Masters


1. I did learn from the Weather Channel that when they say there's a 50% chance of rain what they mean is that with the weather patterns presented, it has rained 50 times out of 100. Thankfully, we were on the favorable side of that prediction last night.

2. We sat in the second deck in right field, about 10 feet on the "foul" side of the foul pole. Good seats, under cover, although the wind was whipping something fierce.

3. The pre-game environment was exciting, and, yes, Lance Berkman's bomb in the first inning deflated the crowd a bit. I'm not sure that I agree with newspaper reports that the homer sucked the energy out of the place, because it happened so early in the game. Yes, the fans did get quieter, but I didn't hear despair or cursing about Halladay. The fans were patient.

4. Kyle Lohse did his best Don Larsen imitation for the first five or so innings, going perfect for about the first four and dazzling the Phillies with his off-speed stuff. Lohse is a good if not great starter, and while he was outdueling Roy Halladay deep down I felt that the faithful thought that they'd get to him.

5. Credit Tony LaRussa for pulling out the stops on Halladay early. In recent starts, Halladay was vulnerable to yielding first-inning runs before settling down, and LaRussa made sure he maximized that weakness by running leadoff hitter Rafael Furcal early.

6. Lohse was so brilliant that after 5 innings he might have thrown 50 pitches. The Phillies weren't patient, but when Ryan Howard worked the count off Lohse in the sixth and hit his three-run homer, the place erupted about as loudly as I've ever heard it. And then when Raul Ibanez homered two at bats later, the place was just pumped up. Ibanez is in the last year of his contract, and it would behoove some AL team to ink him to a 1-year contract to be at least a part-time DH. Sure, his OBP was bad this year, but he had a bunch of key hits and overcame a terrible start. He has some more gas in the tank. I doubt that the Phillies will re-sign him (even if at 1 year for $1 million), only because they need to make room for younger players.

7. Halladay was the first pitcher since Larsen to retire 21 in a row in a post-season game. Last year, when he pitched his no-hitter against the Reds, he "only" retired 14 in a row. I kept a book last night, and he just kept on mowing the Cardinals down. His rebounding from adversity was impressive.

8. Most Phillies' fans were worried about whether the team would hit in the post-season, given the lapse during the 8-game losing streak near the season's end and what happened in last year's post-season. Well, the team shook off the cobwebs and figured out Lohse and then clobberred the Cardinals. The 11-6 final score was misleading. The Cardinals scored 3 runs in garbage time -- the top of the ninth -- after the Phillies had pummeled them and led 11-3. If the Phillies can hit reasonably well, they'll get at least to the World Series and then will have the chance to win it all.

9. The Cardinals are formidable, as is LaRussa, so one game does not a series make. Remember, this is the same LaRussa that skippered a team that finished 83-79 in the regular season in 2006 to a World Series title. LaRussa has a lot of tricks up his sleeve and will be in Cooperstown some day.

10. It was a vintage night, last night at the Bank. It was like Old Masters were painting their masterpieces -- key hits by the veterans, a future Hall of Fame pitcher pitching brilliant after a bad start, and fun for the home town fans. Still, this series -- and the post-season -- is far from over.


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8:57 AM  

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