Oct 2, 2011, 4:25 PM EDT
Playoff baseball returned to South Philadelphia last night and it lived up to all of the hype. Cold weather signifies something in Philly these days. It’s baseball with a palpable pulse.
We don’t take that for granted in this city, and we appreciate what it means on and off the diamond. On the field, the Phils are a group that knows nothing is close to over when they’re down 3-0 before Jimmy Rollins even walks to the plate. And we know it too.
Saturday night also showed us that this isn’t a series that will come easy. As we saw last night, that can make watching these games a whole lot more fun.
As fans, we watch all season long for moments like Ryan Howard standing at home plate, letting his bat drop to his feet, admiring a baseball flying deep into the South Philadelphia night, landing somewhere among the rabid fans who appreciate it most.
Citizens Bank Park in the fall is a beautiful place.
This Phillies team was built to win in October. Roy Hallday delivered last night, retiring the final 21 batters he faced.
It’s Cliff Lee’s turn to dominate this evening.
Ruben Amaro Jr. brought Lee back to Philadelphia for situations exactly like this. Lee is 3-0 over his career in Divisional Series play with a 1.11 ERA. He’s allowed only 4 earned runs in 4 career Division Series starts.
The Phillies offense which struggled early last night but eventually erupted will have their hands full this evening with Cardinals’ ace Chris Carpenter.
Carpenter is pitching on just three days rest, coming off a dominant outing in game 162 in which he threw a complete game shutout, allowing only two hits to get his team into the post-season.
Some may think Carpenter pitching on three days rest for the first time in his career will give the Phillies some sort of advantage tonight, but Cliff Lee is not one of those people.
“I think we all should be able to do it,” Lee said on Saturday. “Every pitcher back in the day did it all the time. They used to have four-man rotations, so it’s definitely possible. Obviously this is a very routine-oriented routine that you’re going to pitch every five days and if you get off that it can be different. But like I said before, everybody used to do it, so it’s not impossible.”
Three days rest. Whatever.
It’s a late 8:37 p.m. start time from Citizens Bank Park. I’ll be down in the crowd this evening. Extra Phillies’ sweatshirts will be worn, long johns may be plentiful, towels will be waving. And I promise to have no voice tomorrow.
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