10/26/08 4:50 AM ET
Night to remember in Philly
From rain to ageless Moyer, Game 3 had it all
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
It featured Phillies starter Jamie Moyer, less than a month shy of his 46th birthday, becoming the oldest player to make his World Series debut and pitch into the seventh inning. And how about those Rays stealing four bases to establish a record for a single postseason of 22 thefts in this their first postseason?There was a controversial close bunt play at first base to open the seventh in which Carl Crawford was ruled safe by umpire Tom Hallion when slow-mo instant replays showed he was out. That led to two runs. And on the final play in the ninth with the bases loaded, the Rays used five infielders and it all went for naught when a dribbler by Phils catcher Carlos Ruiz was hit down the third-base line in exactly the right spot. "You had to love this game," Rays manager Joe Maddon said after the 3:41 thriller was over. "I was sitting there in the dugout and thinking just that: if I'm a fan and a aficionado of baseball, it had just about everything. And it was a World Series game. What a night." And Maddon's team didn't even win the game. How about that? The Phillies pulled it out, 5-4, to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Series when Rays third baseman Evan Longoria tried to scoop up the Ruiz dribbler and shoveled it over the head of catcher Dioner Navarro, allowing Eric Bruntlett to score the winning run. The play marked the first walk-off infield single in World Series history. And with that, Saturday night had turned into Sunday morning and Commissioner Bud Selig's decision to wait out the storm turned out to be prescient. Selig said beforehand that no consideration had been given to postponing Saturday's game -- the first World Series contest to be played in Philadelphia since 1993.
TAKING THE THIRD
|The Phillies became the seventh team since 1969 to win Game 3 at home to take a 2-1 advantage in the World Series -- and all six of those went on to win the Series. Teams that have gone up 2-1 have gone on to win the World Series 22 of 29 times in the divisional era.|
|1969||Mets||Orioles||Mets in 5|
|1974||Athletics||Dodgers||Athletics in 5|
|1975||Reds||Red Sox||Reds in 7|
|1984||Tigers||Padres||Tigers in 5|
|1992||Blue Jays||Braves||Blue Jays in 6|
|2006||Cardinals||Tigers||Cardinals in 5|
"I don't think the people here wanted that," Selig said. "The people here have been out tailgating since 3 o'clock this afternoon. If you call a game off every day starting April 6 because it rained some time during the game, you'd play until February 8. People are used to it, and by the way, the parking lots are jammed. The people are here."In the clubhouses the players were told to hang tight and that there definitely would be a game. "First it was we're waiting until 8:30, and that went by and then we were told it was 9 o'clock, and that didn't happen," said Scott Eyre, the Phils' left-handed reliever who got into the game for one batter to end the seventh inning. "But we knew that we were definitely going to play. Had it been a game in June? Sure, they would have bagged it at 8 o'clock. But this is the World Series and things are handled differently." Moyer, who has played 22 seasons, had to wait a tad longer to make his first World Series appearance. He was given a standing ovation as he walked off the field with one out in the seventh, having allowed just three runs on five hits with a walk and five strikeouts. "I didn't really find it difficult, because I didn't have to start and then stop," Moyer said about the delay. "It was a little tough trying to figure out when we were going to get started. But they gave both teams plenty of advance notice when the game was going to start and I was ready to go, obviously, well before that." When it started, the wind was howling like the 45,900 Phillies fans, who chanted "Eva, Eva," -- in honor of actress Eva Longoria -- every time Longoria came up to hit. In the sixth inning, Longoria was a desperate batter when his high drive to the left-field corner off Moyer with a runner on second and two out was hauled down at the fence by Pat Burrell. "Oh yeah, if it hadn't have been for the wind, that would have been out of there," Maddon said. "The wind certainly held that one up." The field, with its vacuum drainage system, was never an issue. "It wasn't that bad -- not as bad as I thought it was going to be," Rays left fielder Crawford said. "I don't know if they've got a good draining system here or not, but it wasn't that bad." Yes, they do. According to groundskeepers, it was installed with the ability to absorb nine inches of water an hour. But it wasn't installed to resist a lot of weird plays. To open the seventh, Hallion thought he had called the play right when Moyer lunged on his belly toward the first-base line to grab Crawford's bunt. Moyer scooped the ball toward first baseman Ryan Howard, who grabbed it with his bare hand a microsecond before Crawford's foot came down on the bag. But then Hallion looked at the replay. "I tried to get the best angle on it," Hallion said. "And it wound up being a great play by Jamie and Howard. I really didn't get a sound [of ball hitting glove] to be able to judge it. It winds up being a great play. And looking at a replay here, they just got him." Had the Phillies lost the game because of that call, what would have been the implications? "Thirty years from now Philly fans would still be talking about it," Phils shortstop Jimmy Rollins said. In the eighth, Ruiz tried to throw out B.J. Upton stealing third, but the ball kicked off Upton toward the stands for an error, allowing him to score the tying run. Upton, who had three steals on the evening, also had just stolen second. It was the first time since Honus Wagner stole second and third and scored on an error in the 1909 World Series that a similar sequence had happened. The Rays have now scored seven of their last eight runs like this: four on grounders, one on a sacrifice fly, one a sacrifice bunt and the other on the Ruiz throwing error. In the fateful ninth, Bruntlett was hit by a pitch to open the inning and sped to second on Grant Balfour's wild pitch. When Navarro inexplicably threw wide of second into center field for an error, Bruntlett sped to third and sent Maddon's wheels spinning. At the start of the half inning, Ben Zobrist was sent out to play right field. Ultimately, he went back to the dugout to change his fielding glove and took a position dead up the middle by second base. "It was a strange position for me," he said. "I could actually call balls and strikes." It's not a play anyone is used to seeing, although Maddon said he utilized it with some success twice during the 2008 regular season. "It looked like they were about to blitz," Howard said. Though it didn't work out, it was still wondrous to see. Much like a ballgame that had so many historic moments from soaking-wet-start to wee-hour-of-the-morning finish.
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.