Tuesday, October 14, 2008
After jumping out to an early lead in Game 4, the Dodgers chipped away until the Phillies found themselves trailing 5-3 entering the top of the 8th. The game then quickly turned in the Phillies favor as they hit a pair a 2-run homers, one by Shane Victorino and the other by Matt Stairs, to give themselves a 7-5 lead, which the bullpen held onto to give the Phillies a huge 3-1 series lead.
The two heroes of Game 4, Victorino and Stairs, couldn't be more opposite. Victorino, an everyday player, is a little guy who has come up big for the Phillies again and again in the playoffs as his 11 RBIs attest to. Victorino has been far and away the Phillies MVP so far in the playoffs. The 40 years old Stairs, a bench player, is a huge slugger who stepped to the plate for only the 3rd time of the entire playoffs and absolutely crushed a Jonathan Broxton pitch deep into the Los Angeles night. Credit Pat Gillick with having the foresight to pick up a hitter like Stairs near the August 31st trade deadline. He guessed correctly that the Phils would need a big left-handed bat at some point in the playoffs.
Credit for the win should also be given to the Phils bullpen who recovered after Chad Durbin gave up a pair of runs to shut the Dodgers down in the 7th, 8th and 9th innings. This bullpen is unbeatable with a lead and it's so comforting to know that if the team has a lead near the end of the game, they will win every time. It's definitely a different feeling then we are used to having in recent Phillies history and even going all the way back to the last time they made the World Series when Mitch "Wild Thing" Williams was in the closer role.
The Phillies now have a huge, but not insurmountable, 3-1 series lead. They are in a great position considering they have their best pitcher, Cole Hamels, taking the mound on Wednesday night in Los Angeles with a trip to the World Series on the line. Should Hamels falter, the Phillies would then still have two more opportunities to clinch the series back in Philly.
Of course, sometimes the 4th win in a series is the most difficult one to get. With the way this Phillies team is playing with a new hero stepping up every night, it seems like nothing can slow them down.