Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Phillies Slip Past Astros in NLCS

The Philadelphia Phillies are the ARAIG National League champs, defeating the upstart Houston Astros in four games. Three of the games were tied going into the ninth, showcasing how tense this series was, mirroring real life. Congratulations to O and his Philadelphia squad, which battled through a difficult pennant race to take the flag. With great hitters up and down the lineup (Schmidt, Bull Luzinski, McBride, Lonnie Smith, Pete Rose, Gary Maddux, Bowa, etc.), it will prove a tough matchup for an AL foe.

Here's a brief series rundown:

Game One: Steve Carlton wasn't at his best, giving up 12 hits in nine innings. Houston scored first, as Craig Reynolds tripled to lead off the third inning and scored on a Enos Cabell single. Cabell would then come around on a Jose Cruz base hit. But Philly would tie it at two in the bottom of the same inning on Mike Schmidt's long homer to left off Houston starter Ken Forsch. The game would remain 2-2 until the bottom of the ninth. Forsch and reliever Joe Sambito continued to battle, even though giving up 13 Phillies' hits.

But in the bottom of the ninth, the Phils scored the game winner off Sambito, as Lonnie Smith singled, stole second and went to third on a Sambito wild pitch.  Smith then scored the winning run on a single up the middle from Bake McBride to give the hometown Phillies' Phanatics something to cheer. Philly 3, Houston 2.
Game Two:  Houston's Nolan Ryan appeared to be cruising, up 2-0 going into the bottom of the fourth on an RBI double from Cruz and a home run from Alan Ashby. But then the Phillies scored four in the fourth, sending Ryan to an early shower. Two leadoff walks from Ryan led to back-to-back singles from Manny Trillo and Maddox before Phillies pitcher Dick Ruthven had the big blow, a double that plated two more and gave Philly a short-lived 4-2 lead. Houston than pounded out five runs in the top of the sixth, leading to Ruthven's exit before Terry Puhl walloped a three run home to right center off reliever Tug McGraw. Houston led 7-4.

But Philly again answered, as McBride and Schmidt hit back to back homers off reliever Gordie Pladson in the eighth and tied it on Manny Trillo's triple and a subsequent sac fly.

But in the top of the 10th, tied 7-7, Houston got the game winner on Ashby's triple and eventual game winning run, as Sambito had a 1-2-3 bottom of the 10th for the save. Houston 8, Philly 7.

Game Three: 
This was the only game that was lopsided in score. Philly's young starter Larry Christenson and McGraw held Houston to two hits, while Houston starter Joe Niekro (a 23 game winner during the season) was hit hard for four runs and 11 hits in seven innings. Rose had three hits, Schmidt added his third homer of the series, and Maddox knocked in two more in the easy, 6-1 Phillies win

Game Four: Steve Carlton came on to close out the series against Vern Ruhle, and the game turned into a pitchers' duel. Houston scored first against Carlton, plating two in the bottom of the first on RBI singles from Gary Woods and Art Howe. Philly would get single runs in the fifth and sixth to tie it, as Ruhle would allow five hits and two walks in those two innings and give up RBI singles to McBride and Smith.

The game remained tied at two into the 10th inning, as neither team could mount much of a rally. Carlton ended up striking out nine in 8.2 innings, while Ruhle, although giving up 11 hits, also pitched into the ninth with only two Phillies runs scored. It was tied 2-2 after nine.

But disaster befell the Astros in the top of 10th. With Frank LaCorte on the mound, McBride and Trillo led off the inning with singles. Hoping to get out of the inning, LaCorte rushed a throw to first on an easy grounder from Maddox to load the bases on the error. After LaCorte got Bowa to hit into a doubeplay grounder that led to an out at home, normally light hitting catcher Bob Boone smacked a single to left that scored two and gave Philly a 4-2 lead. After a walk from Ron Reed in the bottom of the 10th, McGraw came on to get the final out. Philly 4, Houston 2.
A tight series but Philadelphia proved to be the better team. 


Regards,

Joe Pryweller

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