Phillies Ex-Heroes Gain Split ALDS Decision


A pair of the Philadelphia Phillies 2008 World Series champion favorites found themselves competing for a berth in the American League Championship Series on Wednesday.

Cole Hamels, who was the Most Valuable Player of both the NLCS and the World Series in 2008, took the mound in the afternoon as the starting pitcher for the Texas Rangers in the decisive Game Five of the American League Division Series at Rogers Centre against the host Toronto Blue Jays.

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Ryan Madson, who was the primary setup man to closer Brad Lidge as a member of the Phillies’ 2008 bullpen “Bridge to Lidge” group, would get his own shot at the ALCS on Wednesday evening.

Madson is enjoying a tremendous comeback season as a member of the Kansas City Royals, who were taking on the Houston Astros in the decisive Game Five of their ALDS at Kauffman Stadium.

Hamels was fantastic for most of his start, keeping the Rangers in the game in front of a hostile Canadian crowd. against a high-powered Blue Jays attack. He allowed just two earned runs on only four hits, striking out eight and walking two batters.

Headed into the bottom of the 7th, Hamels appeared to be cruising. He had allowed a two-out RBI double to Jose Bautista in the bottom of the 3rd, and then a game-tying solo home run to Edwin Encarnacion in the bottom of the 6th inning.

In the top of the 7th, the Rangers had retaken the lead when Rougned Odor scored on a crazy play that jump-started what would turn out to be one of the most insane innings in MLB postseason history.

So entering that bottom of the 7th, Hamels had a 3-2 lead. He was at 99 pitches, and there was a good chance that this would be his final inning. With the bottom of the Toronto lineup due up, it was a perfect opportunity for the veteran lefty to hold that lead and turn the game over to the Rangers bullpen.

Then the insanity begun by the Odor run in the top of the inning suddenly reappeared in spades. On a 1-2 pitch, Blue Jays’ catcher Russell Martin reached on an error by Rangers’ shortstop Elvis Andrus. The next batter, Kevin Pillar, grounded to Texas first baseman Mitch Moreland, who threw to 2nd base in an attempt to force Martin out.

However, Moreland’s throw both short-hopped and handcuffed Andrus, who couldn’t handle it. This second consecutive error by the Rangers’ infield put runners at 1st and 2nd with nobody out, instead of what should have been nobody on and two out.

Next up was Jays’ 2nd baseman Ryan Goins, who laid down a simple sacrifice bunt towards 3rd baseman Adrian Beltre. The Rangers’ future Hall of Famer made a tremendous play, anticipating the bunt, fielding it quickly and cleanly, and firing a strike to Andrus covering at 3rd in an attempt to force out the lead runner, Dalton Pompey, who had been inserted as a pinch-runner for Martin.

Instead, Andrus dropped the ball, making his 2nd error of the inning, the Rangers 3rd consecutive error on an infield play. Hamels, who probably should have been out of the inning cleanly, instead was now faced with a bases loaded, nobody out situation.

That brought another ex-Phillie, leadoff man Ben Revere, to the plate. Revere, who just two and a half months ago was Hamels’ teammate in Philly, grounded to Moreland, who fired home to catcher Chris Gimenez for the force out on Pompey.

While that force out at the plate was successful, it was not completed without a bit of its own controversy, and without a review by the umpires. Pompey had slid hard at the plate, taking the legs out from under Gimenez, thus eliminating any chance that the Rangers’ catcher might have had of doubling up Revere with a throw to first base.

The review left the result of the play standing: out at the plate, safe at first base. So the Jays still had the bases loaded, but now with one out. Hamels now had a chance to see his way out of the inning. He would never get the chance.

With his lefty starter now at the 111 pitch mark, and the right-handed hitting heart of the Jays’ order due up, Rangers’ manager Jeff Banister made the move to his bullpen, bringing in righty reliever Sam Dyson.

Facing AL MVP candidate Josh Donaldson, Dyson forced him to pop up towards Odor at 2nd base. The ball kept carrying towards the outfield, and ticked off the very top of Odor’s glove, falling for a hit that brought home Pillar with the tying run. On the same play, Revere, who was fooled by the situation, was forced out at 2nd base for the second out of the inning.

Now with two outs and two runners still on base, and with the game tied at 3-3, Bautista stepped in against Dyson. On a 1-1 pitch, ‘Joey Bats’ crushed a 3-run bomb deep into the left center field seats, giving the Blue Jays a 6-3 lead, punctuating the blast with a classic, exaggerated bat toss.

That would prove the capper to one of the wildest, wackiest innings that anyone has ever seen in baseball history, one that took 57 minutes to complete. It would also end the scoring in the game, with the Blue Jays winning and advancing on to the ALCS.

Hamels, who was certainly deserving of a better fate, was hung with the official loss in the game, ending what had been a fabulous run since his trade from the Phillies to Texas.

That knocked one 2008 Phillies hero out of this year’s postseason, leaving three still playing: Madson, and both Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins, the latter two facing their own Game Five in the NLDS between their Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Mets on Wednesday.

Oct 9, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals relief pitcher Madson throws a pitch against the Houston Astros in the 8th inning in game two of the ALDS at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY SportsFor Madson’s part, his Royals fell behind the Astros early by a 2-0 score. But then Kansas City scored a run in the bottom of the 4th to make it 2-1, then put up crooked numbers in scoring three times in both the 5th and 8th innings to pull away. A 3-run home run from Kendrys Morales in the 8th put it away.

Madson was up in the bullpen in the 8th inning, as starter Johnny Cueto fought his way into that frame having retired 16 consecutive batters while trying to hold what was then just a 4-2 lead. But Madson was never needed, as Cueto put the Astros away with a quick five-pitch, 1-2-3 inning.When closer Wade Davis shut Houston down in the 9th, the Royals were moving on to the ALCS. There KC will attempt to defend their American League Champions status when they face the Blue Jays beginning on Friday in Kansas City.

Ryan Madson will be there in that ALCS. Cole Hamels will not. Tomorrow we find out whether Madson will be the last 2008 Phillies hero standing in the 2015 postseason, or be joined by Utley and Rollins reaching the NLCS.

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