October 13, 2008
The last thing the Philadelphia Phillies wanted or needed was for this National League championship Series to get interesting. Guess what? It got there, wrote Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Phil Sheridan.
Game 3 opened doors for the Dodgers and cans of worms for the Phillies. For good measure, it featured a benches-clearing, not-quite-a-brawl that could give the rest of the series that hockey-playoff atmosphere of scores to be settled. A win last night would have put the Phillies on the threshold of the World Series with a three-games-to-nil lead. It also would have papered over some of the things that now require attention.
The Phillies opened their two-game lead courtesy of one good inning (the three-run sixth in Game 1) and one bad outing (Chad Billingsley's highly flammable Game 2 start). A 3-0 lead in games would have extinguished the Dodgers' flame. A five-run first inning reignited it.
Jamie Moyer, who described the Dodgers lineup as a school of sharks, got chomped to bits, raising a delicate issue for Charlie Manuel and pitching coach Rich Dubee. If this thing goes the distance, who starts Game 7 for the Phillies? There was no doubt before last night that it would be Moyer. Now? There have to be serious doubts. The school of Dodgers swarmed all over his crafty, slow-and-slower stuff like so much chum.
Righthander Joe Blanton will start Game 4 tonight. Cole Hamels is set to start Game 5 here Wednesday. If there is a Game 6 Friday night in Philadelphia, Brett Myers will be on the hill. Game 7 would be Saturday. Thanks to the extra off day tomorrow, Blanton would be available on his normal rest.
It's no fun even to have to contemplate this. Moyer is a fan favorite who also happens to be a very good pitcher. He isn't here as a favor. Without Moyer's 16-7 record this season, the Phillies are scattered around the country, watching the Dodgers play the Mets Monday night.