Baseball Daily News: Oct. 27
Howard's power surge, Blanton's effort the talk of Game 4
It took a month, but Ryan Howard has eased back into his groove and the Phillies are in lockstep and feeling it. Howard hit a pair of homers Sunday, the second time in as many days he's gone deep in the World Series and the first time since Sept. 24 and 26 that he homered in consecutive games. With the Major League leader in homers and RBIs showing the way, the Phillies routed the Rays, 10-2, and took a 3-1 Series lead in the 2008 Fall Classic. Joe Blanton and Jayson Werth also homered, and the Phillies will turn to Cole Hamels in today's Game 5 . Hamels has not lost in the 2008 postseason and will be looking to bookend his victory in Game 1 with another to clinch the title.
Howard homered twice and drove in five runs, while Werth also went deep. Jimmy Rollins went 3-for-5 with three runs scored as the Phillies commandeered a 10-2 victory Sunday night in Game 4 of the World Series. Blanton allowed two runs in six innings and added a home run of his own to take the victory.
Phillies pound Rays
The Rays were the equals of the Phillies in this World Series until Sunday night's Game 4, when they got pushed around to drop a 10-2 decision and are now facing elimination on the road. Andy Sonnanstine allowed five runs on six hits and three walks over four innings to take the loss. Carl Crawford and Eric Hinske both homered, but the Rays lineup did little else.
It took four games for the Phillies to bring their full identity to the World Series, but with Sunday night's complete performance, they've put the Rays on notice it'll take more than a couple of homers to beat them. The Phillies have the power, the pitching, the defense and the momentum.
The real deal
Umpire calls have played a big part of the 2008 World Series and Sunday's Game 4 witnessed another. In the bottom of the first inning, Sonnanstine fielded a chopper and went to third to catch Rollins off the bag. Evan Longoria appeared to apply the tag, but third-base umpire Tim Welke ruled Rollins safe, and he later scored.
Miscues also struck against the Rays on Sunday night. The normally sure-handed Akinori Iwamura committed two errors and both led to runs. In the third, Iwamura booted a ground ball by Chase Utley, who scored on a Pedro Feliz single. In the fourth, Iwamura mishandled Rollins' ground ball and three batters later, Howard hit a three-run homer.
Errors haunt Rays
Their power hasn't turned the tide yet in this World Series, but the Rays have nonetheless etched their names in the record books. With Crawford's fourth-inning homer, the Rays set an American League postseason mark for home runs with 25. That eclipsed the old record set by the Angels in 2002.
Home run kings
Despite setting that record, the middle of the Rays lineup has come up woefully short in this World Series, and without a significant uptick in production, Tampa Bay's season will end today. The Rays specifically need Carlos Pena and Longoria to climb out of their 0-for-29 hole that includes 15 strikeouts in the series.
Filling the hole
Blanton was good Sunday night, with three strikeouts in the first two innings and four punchouts in the first eight batters. Too good to be true? Possibly, and Rays manager Joe Maddon pondered that very question and asked home-plate umpire Tom Hallion about a discoloration on Blanton's cap that he suspected to be pine tar.
What's with the spot?
It got the Phillies through September and helped them claim a second straight AL East title. Now, it's got them on the doorstep of a World Series title. It's the big fly and the most prolific home run hitter of the past few seasons hit a pair Sunday as Howard heated up.
Six times in World Series play, a team has rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win the title. That's not a huge number but it demonstrates that it's possible. The last team to rattle off three straight victories and accomplish the feat in a World Series was the 1985 Royals. The Rays also watched the Red Sox force a seventh game in the AL Championship Series.
Down, not out
The Phillies' bullpen has been a big part of their success both during the regular season and the postseason. In Game 4 of the World Series, the Phillies registered a blowout victory but needed some quality arms to bridge the gap from Blanton to the end of the game.
Bullpen remains Phillies' lifeline
Blanton had not hit a home run in his Major League career until Sunday night, when he took Rays reliever Edwin Jackson deep. Blanton became the 13th pitcher in World Series history to homer and the first since A's left-hander Ken Holtzman went deep in the 1974 Fall Classic against the Dodgers.
Helping his cause
He's already 4-0 and with another victory, Hamels can go where no pitcher has gone before in a Major League Baseball postseason. If Hamels converts in today's Game 5, he will become the first pitcher to go 5-0 and in all likelihood add a World Series MVP to his NLCS MVP. Scott Kazmir will take the ball for the Rays in a rematch of Game 1. The task at hand will be to return the series to Florida.
One of the most frequently cited cliches in baseball is the idea of taking it one game at a time, and its companion idea is turning the page from one game to the next. The Rays still have at least one game remaining in their season and for them to survive, they'll need to concentrate on beating Hamels today.
Turn the page
The city of Philadelphia is calling on its own to represent, and Sunday, it was Patti LaBelle's turn. The 64-year-old R&B star performed the national anthem prior to Game 4 of the World Series at Citizens Bank Park.
LaBelle sings anthem
Jamie Moyer was the ultimate gamer Saturday night, and not simply for his solid 6 1/3 innings. The left-hander held the Rays to three runs and made a great effort on Crawford's bunt single, but he did it all while battling a stomach ailment.
Moyer guts it out
Carlos Ruiz added his name to a long list of those who've written the annual story that is the World Series. The Phillies catcher homered and hit the first walk-off infield single in World Series history, so the man from Panama is fast becoming a household name.
Unknown to limelight
The Rays made a roster move Sunday, replacing Cliff Floyd with Eric Hinske. Floyd hurt his right shoulder in Game 2 at the Trop. Floyd battled injuries throughout 2008 and hit 11 homers. Hinske hit .247 and clubbed 20 homers in the regular season.
Hinske for Floyd
Jim Thome and the White Sox couldn't get past the Rays in the Division Series this postseason, but he paid a visit to Philadelphia for the World Series. Thome was a member of the Phillies from 2003-05 before a trade sent him to Chicago to make way for Howard. Thome also played for Charlie Manuel in Cleveland.
Thome drops by
It's been quite a weekend in Philadelphia, where the hometown Phillies are hosting the Rays in the World Series. Also in action Sunday afternoon were the Eagles, who edged the Falcons, while The Who rocked the town Saturday night.
Miguel Cairo was an original Ray, a Devil Ray to be accurate. He currently is a member of the Seattle Mariners and has yet to appear in a World Series, but he's been to one, courtesy of a pair of tickets to Game 1 at Tropicana Field. Cairo was able to share the game with his 7-year-old son Christian.
World Series moment
Mike Scarr is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.