A Killer Loss Puts Phillies on the Brink
Unless the Phillies win three consecutive games against the New York Yankees, Game 4 of the 2009 World Series will be remembered as one of the most gut-wrenching losses in team history. I’m guessing it’s somewhere between Game 6 of the 1993 World Series and Black Friday (Game 3 of the 1977 NLCS).
The Phillies never had a lead, but they tied the game with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning when Pedro Feliz hit a solo home run to left field. They had two outs in the top of the ninth when Johnny Damon came back from a 1-2 count against Brad Lidge in a nine-pitch at-bat to single to left field.
Then the unbelievable happened. Damon stole second with Mark Teixeira at the plate. The Phillies enacted a defensive shift for Teixeira, which meant Feliz took the throw at second with Jimmy Rollins backing him up. Damon noticed nobody covering third and took off. He reached third easily.
“I just went off instinct and fortunately it worked out,” Damon said.
“To be honest, that’s not really something you go over a lot,” said Lidge, asked who should have been covering third. “I don’t know who is supposed to cover third on that. It was kind of a weird play where no one ends up being there and it becomes a foot race and he’s faster than I am. It’s kind of an unusual play. You’re kind of out of sorts and then all of a sudden there’s just nobody at the bag.”
“That’s a play, we never got anybody to say, ‘OK, you’ve got to go there, you’ve got to go here,'” Feliz said. “I got the bag at that time and J-Roll was backing me up and nobody was on the other side. He saw that and took off for third.”
Rollins said it was his fault.
“I make sure the pitcher knows that he knows on a steal he has to cover third,” Rollins said. “At that time I didn’t really mention anything to Brad, so when he made the pitch in his mind it was just a regular steal. But with the way the defense is set up it’s my job he makes sure he knows to go to third. I’m the captain of the infield. That’s my job. I did it before when Chan Ho (Park) was pitching and I just didn’t do it that time.”
We know what happened next. Lidge hit Teixeira with a pitch. Alex Rodriguez doubled to score Damon to give the Yankees a 5-4 lead. Jorge Posada singled to score Teixeira and Rodriguez to make it 7-4.
More later. My head hurts. I’m sure yours does too.