We've reached Game 4, which is traditionally known as either "The Desperation Start" or "Who the @&$^ Are You and Why Have We Pinned All Our Dreams to You?" Welcome to Andy Sonnanstine vs. Joe Blanton, your fourth starters. Andy's a soft tosser that doesn't walk a lot of fellows; Joe's a Billy Beane baby whose greatest asset is being able to make 33-35 starts a year and not making anyone feel too badly about that. And now you know. PRE-GAME Jay Glazer announces the entire NFL has lost all their vital bodily fluids. You should be able to keep your focus on baseball tonight, knowing full well that the NFL is now American sports' answer to the prune. You're not going to believe this, but Cliff Floyd is injured. It's his shoulder, for those of you that made your bets more specific. Eric Hinske gets to don the World Series patch for the second straight season.
All of the Philly blogging elite are there. We believe A.J. is present; we know Enrico is rolling his crew at Citizens Bank, and now we have a report from Clare from Plunk Chutley: "A live report from the world series: what REALLY goes on when the cameras are not on."
If you had been to the World Series since 1993, Philadelphia, that national anthem would have been absolutely killer. TOP OF FIRST INNING 8:31 pm - Iwamura manages to survive more than three pitches. We believe this may be longer than any at-bat he attempted last night. 8:33 pm - Burrell pulls in Iwamura's fly and away we go. The Sprint sign behind home plate was clearly calibrated to match the ambient noise before the fireworks went off, so it looks simply awful at the moment. This, of course, won't stop them. 8:34 pm - Upton gets caught looking at the Sprint sign and strike three passes by. This is more embarrassing since it's a greenscreen sign. 8:35 pm - The Bear pops out foully and didn't anyone get the memo that Blanton can be wild? Taking pitches is totally legal now. BOTTOM OF FIRST INNING 8:37 pm - And you chose Tim McGraw last night, Fox? Is there any other choice *ever*? 8:38 pm - "Simply a winner" == "We don't know why he's here, either" 8:39 pm - "Simply a winner" == "Gives up a double to Jimmy Rollins" 8:41 pm - "Simply a winner" == "Allows Rollins to advance to third with one down on a deep fly after going down 3-0 to Jayson Werth" 8:44 pm - "Simply a winner" == "Walks Chutley" 8:45 pm - "Simply a winner" == "Tapes grounders to the mound to his hand and refuses to release it" 8:46 pm - Glove'n'ball in the butt? That's an FCC fine. (We're accepting screenshots, by the way. email@example.com.) 8:48 pm - "Simply a winner" == "Walks home a run on five pitches." Phillies 1-0. 8:50 pm - "Simply a winner" == "Gets a runner out at hom... wait, that actually sounds productive. Maybe he IS a winner." 8:52 pm - After a 20-minute winning, Feliz pops out to Upton, whom we've decided (unlike many of his teammates) really needs facial hair. After one, Phillies 1-0.
(Thanks, Jesse and the rest of you with quick triggers on ass shots!) TOP OF SECOND INNING 8:56 pm - Longoria and Crawford strike out and HONEST TO GOODNESS it's like Angela Lansbury's dealin' queens and the Rays batters are unable to resist pitches in their eyes. We need Frank Sinatra more than ever. 8:58 pm - Navarro singles to right and Jayson Werth wastes his chance to be Andre Dawson, letting the rotund runner get to first without a throw. 8:58 pm - No problem, though... Zobrist is out on one pitch. Take a pitch! We're not kidding here. We know where your beloved childhood pets are. The tips line, she is strong. BOTTOM OF SECOND INNING 9:01 pm - You know how most outfielders run to a spot and wait for the ball? Ben Zobrist thinks that's crap. He catches Carlos Ruiz's fly ball, though. 9:02 pm - Aramis Ramirez is the NL Hank Aaron winner? THE CUBS WIN AT THE WORLD SERIES! THE CUBS WIN AT THE WORLD SERIES! WOOOO! 9:03 pm - Blanton struck out while we were being unnecessarily exuberant. 9:05 pm - Rollins singles and we're beating Tim McCarver with an AM radio if he says "station to station" again. 9:06 pm - Werth pops out to a shamed Zobrist, who runs to a spot before catching the ball. After two, it's Phillies 1-0. TOP OF THIRD INNING 9:08 pm - In Baseball Heaven, you get to take a maple bat to that guy any time you want. 9:11 pm - President Bartlett strikes out but Sonnanstine singles in an opposing direction. However, he did it in something like two pitches, so it's totally approved by the Rays. 9:13 pm - Two straight choices by the fielder to get the man out at second, leaving the man at first to consider his sins in a public forum, end the frame. BOTTOM OF THIRD INNING 9:18 pm - Another 47-pitch at-bat, another error (by Iwamura), another Chutley sighting at first. 9:20 pm - And now Howard singles and ball one to Burrell. We may need supercomputers to see a pattern here. 9:23 pm - Burrell takes 76 pitches but pops out to the President.
9:26 pm - Victorino takes a mere 42 pitches but pops out to the President. 9:27 pm - Pedro Feliz swings at the first pitch (ball one) and then immediately singles to left, which is exactly what the Rays have been trying and failing at. Baseball, we don't get you sometimes. Phillies 2-0. 9:29 pm - Iwamura receives a rub through the pants when he catches a ground ball up the middle but can't throw anyone out. Bases loaded, two out, Blanton standing tall. 9:30 pm - Blanton's out on his best Feliz impersonation. By the time we click "Save" on this timestamp, the Rays will have made three outs on two pitches. Phillies 2-0. TOP OF FOURTH INNING 9:35 pm - The Bear flips the script by striking out in more than six pitches. 9:35:25 pm - Longoria grounds out to shortstop in a return to form. Tim McCarver blames bad synapse mechanics. 9:37 pm - Carl Crawford has a Maier moment, barely clearing the wall in right-center to halve the lead. Phillies 2-1. We're dying to see the replay on that one... 9:37:14 pm - ... which we will shortly as Navarro rushes the game to commercial with his love of out. BOTTOM OF FOURTH INNING 9:42 pm - Akinori Iwamura, this is your glove. It's used to catch the ball and then, you know, throw the ball. Jimmy Rollins receives a single/error. (You choose at home. Single: page 47. Error: page 49.)
9:45 pm - "Simply a winner" == "Third walk of the game through 3+ innings, setting up first and second with no outs" 9:46 pm - We're really not going to see that Crawford ball leave the park again, are we? Chutley strikes out on three pitches to go back to the dugout and check for us. The power of the tips line. 9:49 pm - Less doubt about this home run from Sub Howard. When we took these live blogs, we were told it was contingent upon two Phillies victories. You can't say we haven't done our part. Phillies 5-1. 9:52 pm - Burrell and Gritirino pop out harmlessly, but we can't help but notice that Buck'n'McCarver have STSU about the wasted opportunities by the Phillies. Phillies 5-1. TOP OF FIFTH INNING 9:54 pm - Stay tuned for your next Fox News exclusive: how the Tecate Light guy took his job from a hard-working American cerveza spokesperson. 9:54 pm - Zobrist entereth and exiteth. 9:57 pm - The ol' 1-5-3 putout on the President... only winners get that play. We think we've been had about this whole "simply a winner" thing. The Rays agree, pulling Andy and replacing him with World Series sub Eric Hinske. 9:58 pm - Cliff Floyd gets Pipped in just a few pitches as Hinske pulls a Stairs to deep center. (That was a lot of proper nouns there. Maybe even a bastard verb.) Phillies 5-2. 9:59 pm - Iwamura continues to ruin our mancrush on him with a piddling groundout. Still, we guess we don't have to switch to the popular USF-Tulsa liveblog yet. BOTTOM OF FIFTH INNING 10:04 pm - Ruiz and Feliz are out but not without Screamin' Tom Hallion letting the Rays know that (as best we could hear it) he didn't need their "guff" anymore. Well, we guess the wait is over.
10:06 pm - Joe Blanton is the first pitcher to hit a home run in a world series in 36 years? A guy that was an American League pitcher most of his career? Well, hell, kids. You may work on your coronation speeches, Phillies fans. Phillies 6-2. 10:07 pm - Rollins grounds out to end the fifth and we're going to need an astrophysicist to explain this game to us. Phillies 6-2. TOP OF SIXTH INNING 10:10 pm - Was the Rays' last successful play the taco base? We can't remember for sure. 10:12 pm - B.J. flies out toot sweet. Joe Blanton has a perpetual look on his face like he can't understand all the fuss and really doesn't comprehend everything that's happening around him but he's more bemused than frightened. Dude's not complicated. He's simply a winner, y'know? 10:15 pm - Oh, NOW The Bear patiently works the count and draws a walk. There's such a thing as timing, people. 10:16 pm - Longoria strikes out. No, really. Do you need a moment? 10:17 pm - Crawford's pinky toe takes a bruisin' from the stitches of a Blanton pitch and he shall stand on first gingerly. First and second, two down. 10:20 pm - Dioner-not-Navi strikes out by swinging at a ball, but considering he watched a ball or three called as strikes, he probably didn't know what else to do. BOTTOM OF SIXTH INNING 10:23 pm - Just how much scorn does one receive for ordering a Philly cheese steak from a Subway franchisee in the Philadelphia area? We imagine it's just below a hangin' but more than a beatin'. 10:25 pm - For Edwin Jackson's second inning of work, he reverts to Bad Edwin, allowing Jayson Werth to pound a double off the MLB Network. The MLB Network will now launch in mid-April to allow time to repair the damage. 10:27 pm - From commenter TracyHamandEggs! below: "New stars can no longer be earned except as a gift from the editors AND unstarred comments will be collapsed in threaded view unless they have been replied to recently." NOW we understand those star lapel pins on the Fox announcing team. Savvy, Rupert... savvy. 10:29 pm - Chutley strikes out and Howard receives the intentional walk he couldn't get earlier in the series. He was the one asked to hit before, remember? 10:31 pm - Good Edwin returns for a double play that's nearly ruined about seven times during its execution. Phillies 6-2. TOP OF SEVENTH INNING 10:35 pm - Eric Bruntlett looks a little too much like Evan Tanner for our comfort. Too soon. 10:38 pm - Ben Zobrist walks and we say farewell to Joe Blanton, who will not need to buy a drink in Philly for a long time. 10:41 pm - President Outmaker does so at Chad Durbin's request 10:42 pm - Willy "Automatic Transmission" Aybar clutchly hits pinchily to right and Durbin, who is not a winner, has to leave in favor of Simple Winner Scott Eyre. Charlie's oopsie. 10:45 pm - Iwamura does as Tim McCarver tells him to, making the second out of the inning. Oh, look... a pitching change!
10:51 pm - Ryan Madsen is a more complex winner as he requires six pitches to out BeeJay. And now exactly what we promised you... cake!
BOTTOM OF SEVENTH INNING 10:58 pm - Dan Wheeler joins the fun and tricks Gritirino into popping out to Zobrist in right. We don't know if it's because he's been pretty decent or if "Ben Zobrist" is just kind of an awesome early 80s detective show name, but he's rubbing off on us. 10:59 pm - Pedro Feliz bounces another ball off Granite Longoria for another infield single. 11:00 pm - Oh, Akinori... how could we ever stay mad at you? Your stabbing line drive catch and double play throw made us forget all the bad in the world. And to think what we were considering...
Phillies 6-2. TOP OF EIGHTH INNING 11:03 pm - "American Idol" and the World Series have nothing in common... except lousy singing, we guess. 11:07 pm - On the other hand, the Bear strikes out again and he's off our Christmas list. 11:08 pm - Did the Phillies turn the crappy left field foul seats into auxiliary press seats? Is that why they were almost empty when Granite Longoria dropped a ball in them? 11:09 pm - Strike three on Granite. And Crawford grounds out weakly and we don't know how else to explain this concept to the Rays. BOTTOM OF EIGHTH INNING 11:14 pm - Matt Stairs strikes out and we're just kinda happy he got to be in the sun for a moment. One of our guys from way back. 11:16 pm - Phillies fans do their best to pull a Rollins ball over the right-field fence, but they're not quite coordinated enough to pull it off. A double, it is. 11:19 pm - Jayson Werth shows Rollins how it's done, hitting the ball a little harder and to left field for a home run. Phillies 8-2. Say good night, Gracie. 11:20 pm - We feel dehydrated. We just wish there were a series of chemicals that could cure tha... oh, that's right. Beer! While we have a moment as Wheeler is shown the World Series door (and it's made of a fine mahogany, thanks for asking), we love that Jayson Werth put a finger to the sky on his 8-2 Phillies lead homer. Dude's been suffering all series and he finally did something positive. Good on him. 11:24 pm - Oh, Jesus... we didn't think we'd have to defend our position. It was awesome. We will not entertain other opinions on this matter. 11:25 pm - Chutley's walk is followed by Howard's slower walk of 360 feet, give-take. Phillies 10-2. 11:28 pm - Bruntlett's out and we have video of the ninth inning already, thanks to the power of the tips line.
Phillies 10-2. TOP OF NINTH INNING 11:31 pm - And in the role of Carol Burnett's spotlight sweeper, J.C. Romero. 11:32 pm - Navarro takes first on an error/hit on the infield. Timing, gentlemen. Timing. 11:33 pm - Chosen: Navarro. Allowed to live: Zobrist. Jimmy Rollins is a merciful shortstop. 11:37 pm - El Presidente Bartlett watches strike three, failing to factor in that it's a 10-2 game and Screamin' Tom Hallion has places to be, too. 11:37 pm - And that'll do it. The Phillies take a commanding 3-1 lead and we recommend mapping out parade routes in Philly that will cause the least damage to property. (And how much do we love that Fox showed the time of game as if they managed to bring it in just over three hours because of their skill and not because each Ray treated their at-bats as timed contests?) Now you know who the hell Joe Blanton is: he's the luckiest SOB on the planet tonight. Andy Sonnanstine... well, the earlier you forget tonight, the better off he is.