The Phillies didn't lose a step last night in Game 1 in St. Petersburg, Florida for the first win in World Series history for the Phillies since 1993. Cole Hamels pitched a great game and the early offense by the Phils was good enough to carry the win in the land of the cowbell. Chase Utley came through in a big way and deposited a big home run into the right field seats to give the fightin's the lead early.
The Phillies continued to get a lot of hits off of Tampa starter, Scott Kazmir, but they couldn't score any of them. They had an incredible 24 LOB in this game and they really shouldn't have won this game just based on that. The Phillies have done this all year, get runners on and then not score them. The combination of Rollins, Howard, and Coste left 14 players stranded on the bases between the three of them. Pitching was the key to this victory, because without the stellar performances by Cole Hamels, Ryan Madson, and Brad Lidge, the Phillies probably would have ended up losing this one.
Ryan Howard got no respect from the Rays, and he ended up striking out 3 times and drew one walk. Ryan didn't look that good at all when he was flailing at balls as he's done against left handed pitching all season long. He'll come around possibly tonight with a right handed pitcher now going for the Rays in James Shields.
The sold out crowd of over 40,000 in the Tropicana Field had little to cheer about except a home run by Carl Crawford. The Rays fans looked like they needed a rally towel instead of those terrible cowbells. I think a lot of the crowd noise is even drowned out by those cowbells, so they probably work against the notion that it is helping the team win. Phillies fans will be just plain loud when the series returns to Philly over the weekend.
This victory silences a lot of the 'experts' that picked the Rays to win, they have to be double thinking their choice today, but this series is a best of seven series so the Phillies really haven't won anything other than Game 1 for now. The series will undoubtebly take a twist and turn here or there. My original pick was Phillies in 5, so that still looks good. We'll see tonight if Brett Myers can continue where Cole left off, and the Phillies offense can finally score some of those stranded runners if they have that many tonight.
Rich Baxter - Fightin Phillies