Moyer again at his best in big spot
Though Phillies are eliminated, veteran stellar in Game 3
DENVER -- In his heart of hearts, Jamie Moyer truly felt the Phillies were a big break away from turning the tables on the Rockies in the National League Division Series.
"I honestly believe it would have taken one inning for us, one at-bat, one sequence for us to turn this thing around," Moyer said. "Really, coming into this ballpark tonight, I believed if we won tonight, we had a good chance to win the series."
Unfortunately for the Phillies, the momentum-changing moment never arrived. But the 44-year-old veteran pitcher certainly did his part in attempting to get his team rolling.
Pinch-hitter Jeff Baker's two-out RBI single in the eighth inning lifted the Rockies to a 2-1 Game 3 victory that clinched the NLDS on Saturday night at Coors Field.
After his team was swept in three games, Moyer reflected on what might have been while appreciating the remarkable run the Phillies made to capture the NL East crown -- which he helped clinch with a strong outing on the last day of the regular season.
"I think we played some exciting baseball this year, to come back and win our division like we did," Moyer said. "In the playoffs, it was one inning where we didn't pitch or we didn't hit. It was unfortunate. I think this team had a chance to do something special in the playoffs. Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way."
Moyer certainly stepped up with a game and impressive performance, taking the mound under unusual circumstances with the season on the line.
At 44, Moyer became the oldest Phillies starter in postseason history. Hall of Famer Steve Carlton formerly held that distinction when he took the mound at 38 in Game 3 of the 1983 World Series against Baltimore.
Moyer gave the Phillies six gallant innings, allowing one run on five hits with two strikeouts and two walks. The veteran logged 88 pitches, and walked away with his team tied at 1 on a night of challenging conditions.
When the first pitch was thrown, the temperature was 73 degrees and pleasant. It didn't last long, as a cold front blew through, and by the middle innings, the thermometer was dropping into the mid and then low 50s.
Strong gusts of winds nearly had Moyer flapping around on the mound.
"The wind bothered me a little bit early in the game," Moyer said. "I felt like I should put some rocks in my pocket. I actually straddled the rubber a couple of times and felt the wind pushing me a little bit. There was one or two pitches in the first or second inning where I felt the wind pushed my body off line. But other than that, I don't mind the cooler weather."
As if feeling a bit like a weathervane wasn't bothersome enough, the game was delayed for 14 minutes in the top of the second inning when the stadium lights flickered out due to a computer glitch.
In all his years of baseball, Moyer has been through a lot. But never has he witnessed a 20-degree temperature drop and a blackout on the same night.
Moyer, however, has experienced being in a park when everything suddenly turned black. It was in the early 1980s, when he was playing Double-A ball in Pittsfield, Mass.
As fate would have it, Dallas Green, now an advisor to the Philadelphia general manager, was at the game.
"Dallas Green just happened to be in town, and the lights went out," Moyer said. "The only light that was on in these wooden stands was a streetlight inside the stands, and he was standing under it."
|"In the playoffs, it was one inning where we didn't pitch or we didn't hit. It was unfortunate. I think this team had a chance to do something special in the playoffs. Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way."|
|-- Jamie Moyer|
Moyer did a nice job slowing the tempo in the second inning and he worked out of a bases-loaded jam. The lone run he allowed came in the fifth inning on Kazuo Matsui's RBI triple, which gave Colorado a 1-0 lead. Moyer minimized the damage by retiring Troy Tulowitzki on a ground ball to shortstop.
Considering the fact that the Rockies have now won 17 of their last 18, Moyer realized the Phillies had to play near-perfect baseball to rally from two games down.
"That team is playing pretty well right now, playing pretty much mistake-free," Moyer said. "If we won tonight, to me it's very evident for us to win the series, we had to play mistake-free baseball."
Next month, Moyer turns 45, and he feels the Phillies are in a nice position to make another playoff push in 2008. Still, he cautions there are no guarantees that success carries over.
"You never know," he said. "When you have that magic during the course of the season, and you fight and you battle, and you deal with what you have to deal with, and you stay together and win, that's very special. These moments don't come along too often.
"I haven't had them come along too often in my career. You cherish them. You don't know when you're going to get back, and you hope to get back. Now that it's over for us, it's time to focus on next year."
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.