You couldn't script this. Any of it. You've seen all those cheesy MLB commercials about October? Who knew that they'd prove true, and that the Phils would land right in the middle of it all.
It's hard to process everything we saw tonight. The game didn't start until about 10pm, and ended around quarter to two. The 45 year-old Philly-area native Jamie Moyer was absolutely magnificent, stymieing the Tampa Bay Rays for six innings with pinpoint location and Jedi mind tricks--and then was very nearly undone by an umpiring call that was as bad as Kerwin Danley's disasters in Game Two, and even more harmful.
Tied 4-4 in the 9th, the Phils won it in walkoff style as Tampa fell apart at the end: Eric Bruntlett reached on a hit-by-pitch, and with Shane Victorino attempting to bunt, a Grant Balfour wild pitch bounced back to Dioner Navarro--who threw it into centerfield, getting Bruntlett to third with no outs. Two intentional walks later, a Carlos Ruiz bleeder up the third base line scored Bruntlett as Evan Longoria's desperate toss sailed over Navarro's head.
Carlos Ruiz, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard all crushed solo home runs to give Moyer a 4-1 lead heading into the 7th, when Tampa staged a two-run rally that started with a Carl Crawford bunt attempt. Moyer sprawled out to field it and flipped to first, beating Crawford by a half-step--but Howard, who caught it bare-handed, blocked first-base ump Tom Hallion with his body, and Crawford was called safe. Dioner Navarro followed with a double, advancing Crawford to third; both Rays scored on groundouts to bring it to 4-3.
Speed was key as the Rays scored the tying run off Ryan Madson in the 8th. Melvin Upton hit a chopper up the middle that Jimmy Rollins fielded but could not get to first before Upton--running hard this time--got to the bag. The young outfielder then stole second, stole third, and scored as Ruiz's throw hit his leg and bounced toward the Tampa dugout. The teams then traded zeroes until the improbable finish.
Though Moyer, the blown call and the speed of the Rays were the big stories tonight, credit should go to the somewhat revived Phillies hitters tonight too. Jimmy Rollins broke his 0-for with two hits and a run, Utley drove in two with a groundout and his solo shot, Howard reached the seats (and turned several nice defensive plays), and Ruiz went 2 for 3 with a solo homer and the game-winning dribbler--raising his average for the Series to an even .500.
The Phils go for a 3-1 lead tomorrow behind Joe Blanton, who faces off against Tampa's Andy Sonnanstine.