Monday, October 27, 2008

Home Runs Put Title Within Reach

Chicks dig the long ball, so chicks have to dig the Phillies. Led by Ryan Howard's 48 regular season bombs, the Phillies hit a National League-leading 214 home runs. Only the Chicago White Sox (235) hit more home runs this season. Last night the Tampa Rays felt the full brunt of Howard and the Phillies power.

The Phillies blasted their way to a 10-2 victory to take a commanding 3 games to 1 lead in the World Series. Howard hit a pair of blasts, and pitcher Joe Blanton and right fielder Jayson Werth each hit one as the Phillies knocked around Rays starter Andy Sonnanstine and the Tampa bullpen.

Blanton, meanwhile was marvelous. He limited the Rays to four hits over six innings, allowing a pair of runs. But the biggest ovation he received on the night was when he hit his first major league home run, a solo shot off of Edwin Jackson in the fifth inning that extended the Phillies lead to 6-2. At his teammates insistence, Blanton took a curtain call for the raucous crowd of over 45,000.

The Phillies put the game away in the eighth when Werth followed a double by Jimmy Rollins with a 2-run shot to left-center off of Dan Wheeler. Lefty specialist Trever Miller came on, but he walked Chase Utley and then Howard unloaded his second home run, a tremendous shot to right field.

Sonnanstine was shaky from the start, walking Pat Burrell with the bases loaded to put the Phillies on the board first. The Phillies again failed to break an inning open though, as both Shane Victorino and Pedro Feliz couldn't get another run in.

Moments after Fox praised Aki Iwamura's transition from third to second base, the Japanese veteran booted Utley's grounder to start the third. Howard's single put runners on the corners with no one out, but it appeared the Phillies would fail in the clutch again when Burrell and Victorino both flied out to shallow left. Feliz came through with a big 2-out hit though, singling to left for a 2-0 lead. Carlos Ruiz also singled, but Blanton fouled out to end the threat.

The Rays got on the board in the fourth when Carl Crawford went deep for the second time in the series. But Iwamura's second error, in the bottom of the inning, set the wheels in motion for the game changing play. Utley drew a walk to put two aboard, but Sonnanstine struck out Werth for the first out. With the Rays hoping to turn an inning ending double play, Howard crushed a pitch into the left field seats for a 3-run home run and a 5-1 Phillies lead.

Eric Hinske, who replaced an injured Cliff Floyd on the roster earlier in the day, took Blanton deep in the fourth to cut the margin to 5-2. But Blanton and his teammates continued to impress the chicks and the Phillies fans with their long ball display.

News and Notes

Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria are now a combined 0-29 in the series with 15 strikeouts.

Joe Blanton became the first pitcher in 34 years, since Ken Holtzman in 1974, to hit a home run in the series. He also became the first player to hit his first major league home run in the World Series.

The Phillies were actually 4-14 (.286) with runners in scoring position last night. For the series they are 6-47.

Ryan Howard joined Len Dykstra (1993) as the only Phillies with a multi-HR game in the series.

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