It's the day Phillies fans have been waiting for since the last time Hillary Clinton had a national health care plan. It's playoff baseball in Philadelphia for the first time since 1993!
Back then the closest thing to live-blogging was calling your buddy at work and annoying the receptionist at his office with tedious inning-by-inning updates or dialing his home phone repeatedly and hoping he got back from work before his girlfriend showed up and erased all your messages from the little cassette tape inside the answering machine.
To help usher the Phaithful into the 21st century, I'll be live-blogging each game of the Division Series. That's right, my schedule's cleared, work schedules are rearranged, and I'm ready to hitch a week's worth of free time to a team with a 4.76 ERA that relies on a 44-year-old with a 5.01 ERA to win big games. Hoo boy. And did I mention Wes Helms (.246, 5 HR, 39 RBI) is starting at third base today?
What's more, the Phillies are apparently going against Jesus in this series, and I'm not talking Jesus Colome. Read this piece from Philadelphia Weekly's Philadelphia Will Do blog. Pat Robertson has a new favorite team.
So if you can't align yourself with the dark forces in front of the TV for the 3 p.m. start time on TBS, check here for frequent updates on the progress of the game and the most earth-shattering event on TBS since Opie lost a tooth on an Andy Griffith rerun.
The Phillies lineup is below. The Rockies, with less than 90 minutes to go before the first pitch, have yet to release their lineup (chickens!), but when they do decide on an offense it will be in support of starter Jeff Francis (17-9, 4.22 ERA). EDIT: With a little more than half an hour to go, we now have a Rockies lineup. What were they waiting for, a burning bush?
2B Kaz Matsui
SS Troy Tulowitzki
LF Matt Holliday
1B Todd Helton
3B Garrett Atkins
RF Brad Hawpe
CF Ryan Spilborghs
C Yorvit Torrealba
P Jeff Francis
SS Jimmy Rollins
RF Shane Victorino
2B Chase Utley
1B Ryan Howard
CF Aaron Rowand
LF Pat Burrell
3B Wes Helms
C Carlos Ruiz
P Cole Hamels
6:11 p.m., Post-mortem, Rockies 4, Phillies 2: So the top four hitters in the Phillies order goes 0-for-15 with nine K's, including four from Chase Utley. The Phils had one hit, by Hamels no less, outside of the fifth inning. They lose a home game with their ace on the mound and throw rookie Kyle Kendrick out there in Game Two tomorrow (3 p.m.). The Rockies have now won 15 of their last 16 games. Say it with me now ... not good! The only upside is that Colorado is going with Mark Redman (2-4, 7.62 ERA in 11 games) on the mound tomorrow for just his ninth start of the year. I'll be live-blogging again, so let's hope the fans at the ballpark will be putting their hands to good use tomorrow, too.
6:01 p.m., It's over, Rockies 4, Phillies 2: Burrell at least making it last, as the count is 2-2 and Torrealba is out to speak to Corpas. But it's a fly ball on the next pitch to center field, where Sullivan is there to end the game.
5:56 p.m., Bottom 9th, Rockies 4, Phillies 2: Howard goes down looking on three pitches. Hmm. Dale Scott gets an earful. That last pitch was a ball most of the afternoon. By the way, Sullivan now in center field as part of a double switch. Spilborghs out. Rowand quickly grounds out to second and now it's all up to Burrell. Again ... not good!
5:54 p.m., Bottom 9th, Rockies 4, Phillies 2: Corpas has a 2.08 ERA and converted 19 of 22 save opportunities in the regular season, in case you're wondering. Howard fouls off the first pitch.
5:52 p.m., Mid 9th, Rockies 4, Phillies 2: Everyone comes to their feet and half-heartedly waves their towel as the count goes full on Matsui. Curveball gets him looking, and let's hope the Phillies fans can mount some kind of noise for the bottom of the ninth. Let's flash the word "Noise" on the jumbotron, shall we? Manny Corpas, the Rockies' closer, is warming up on the mound as I write.
5:50 p.m., Top 9th, Rockies 4, Phillies 2: Sullivan drops one into center field just in front of Rowand, and suddenly it's runners first and second as the Rockies send leadoff man Matsui up there. May I bring up what had been the phrase of the day again? Not good.
5:48 p.m., Top 9th, Rockies 4, Phillies 2: Nunez one-hops the throw on a slow grounder to third, and Torrealba is safe. Corey Sullivan pinch hitting for Colorado.
5:46 p.m., Top 9th, Rockies 4, Phillies 2: "Myers likes this role. He grew up boxing as a kid. He's certainly combative enough for this role." -- Joe Simpson. Everyone's favorite wife-beater strikes out Spilborghs looking. Torrealba now batting.
5:44 p.m., Top 9th, Rockies 4, Phillies 2: Hawpe, Spilborghs and Torrealba up for the Rockies in the ninth, while the Phillies counter with Howard, Rowand and Burrell. This favors the Phils. Brett Myers out there in a non-save situation. By the way, the ballpark is pin-drop quiet right now. Myers K's Hawpe and a smattering of applause follows.
5:42 p.m., End 8th, Rockies 4, Phillies 2: Fuentes strikes out Utley looking, who now wears the Golden Sombrero. That's not a good look, Chase. The ladies don't like. And neither does anyone else.
5:39 p.m., Bottom 8th, Rockies 4, Phillies 2: Speedy Victorino beats out a double-play ball and the inning stays alive for Utley. C'mon, Chase, do it for the girls!
5:38 p.m., Bottom 8th, Rockies 4, Phillies 2: Here comes the 3-1 to Rollins! ... Popped up to Tulowitzki at short. Ugh. Remember, Jimmy, the MVP award encompasses what you do in the regular season, not the playoffs. Pressure's off, OK?
5:34 p.m., Bottom 8th, Rockies 4, Phillies 2: Yes, that's right, five sentences in the last entry, and all of them ended in exclamation points. And now, it's my old fantasy league middle reliever Brian Fuentes on for the Rockies to face Iguchi, pinch-hitting in the pitcher's spot. In case you're wondering, the Phlorida Phils slumped in the last week and finished fifth. I can't explain it, other than it reconfirmed my Yankee hatred when Torre rested both A-Rod and Jeter twice last weekend. Full count to Iguchi ... ball four! A man on with Rollins up!
5:30 p.m., Mid 8th, Rockies 4, Phillies 2: What a peg by Rollins! He goes full extension to nab an Atkins grounder, gets back up and fires a strike to Howard at first! MVP! MVP! Holliday home run be damned!
5:28 p.m., Top 8th, Rockies 4, Phillies 2: J.C. Romero in now, and he gets Helton to pop out to Rollins in shallow left. So Manuel, why did you have Gordon pitch in back-to-back innings again?
5:25 p.m., Top 8th, Rockies 4, Phillies 2: And while I'm at it, I'm taking out Holliday, too. He homers to left-center and Gordon's day is done. Thanks for nothing, K-Kat (Insider nickname for Tom Gordon)!
5:24 p.m., Top 8th, Rockies 3, Phillies 2: I want to shoot Frank Caliendo. Now. Get me a gun and I'm going to L.A. to do it. I'm serious. Have Mellancamp record another one and play it ad nauseam, I don't care. It can't be as bad as this. Gordon still on as he faces Tulowitzki and gets him to swing and miss on strike three.
5:20 p.m., Bottom 7th, Rockies 3, Phillies 2: Bourn is proving to be a thorn (ha! rhyme!) as he's drawn a throw back to first and a pitch out here. 2-2 count to Ruiz. Ah, but Ruiz chops one to Matsui at second, who starts the double play. What happened to the National League's best offense?
5:18 p.m., Bottom 7th, Rockies 3, Phillies 2: Michael Bourn pinch-running for Dobbs, so we can assume Abraham Nunez will take over at third in the eighth. Ruiz hitting for himself and it's quickly 0-2.
5:17 p.m., Bottom 7th, Rockies 3, Phillies 2: The Phanatic leads everyone in putting the voodoo hex on Hawkins with the little green foam thingies everyone appears to have been handed at the turnstiles today. This Dobbs at-bat is interminable. Ninth pitch to come. Full count. And he walks him. Never cross the Phanatic!
5:13 p.m., Bottom 7th, Rockies 3, Phillies 2: Greg Dobbs pinch hits for Helms. So Wes will have to wait another day to earn his way into my clubhouse.
5:11 p.m., Bottom 7th, Rockies 3, Phillies 2: TBS returns to give us a Caliendo promo (I have a feeling we're going to get really tired of these really soon) and throws it to DA for a report before revealing the new pitcher. What is this, a national secret? It's LaTroy Hawkins, folks. Burrell pops the first pitch up to third.
5:09 p.m., Bottom 7th, Rockies 3, Phillies 2: Just as the inning was set to begin, Clint Hurdle pops out of the dugout and makes a change. Hmm. TBS fails to tell us just who it is he's bringing in. Whoever it is, he'll face Pat Burrell.
5:05 p.m., Mid 7th, Rockies 3, Phillies 2: The tension is palpable in the building with a 2-2 count to Matsui. Gordon gets him to swing and miss at a pitch that nicks the dirt. Stretch time. Everyone exhale!
5:01 p.m., Top 7th, Rockies 3, Phillies 2: Victorino catches the lazy fly ball hit by Torrealba, and Francis is up to bunt. Instead, he pulls back and slaps a grounder to first, where Utley ranges and throws to Howard, who gets back to the bag in time. But Torrealba moves up to second. That's what they call a swinging bunt, kids. Uh-oh. Bullpen time. Hamels goes off to a hand from the Phillies crowd, and 39-year-old Tom Gordon is in.
4:58 p.m., Top 7th, Rockies 3, Phillies 2: Gordon up in the bullpen, and with a 2-0 count to Torrealba, Dubee is out to the mound. My nerves have returned.
4:56 p.m., Top 7th, Rockies 3, Phillies 2: TBS reminds us all to enter People magazine's Sexiest Fan Alive contest. How 'bout the guy in the Benjamin Franklin outfit? Or, I know: the guy in the fedora and tank top from the Braves game in September. The guy's a no-brainer. Spilborghs walks. He trots out to first, someone calling the game somewhere trots out the "never walk the leadoff man" axiom.
4:54 p.m., End 6th, Rockies 3, Phillies 2: Howard flies out to right to bring up today's trigger man, Aaron Rowand. A slight smattering of applause. Hey, it is Philadelphia, after all. He skies one to left, but Holliday is there. Hamels is at about 100 pitches, but the 7-8-9 hitters are due up, so he should get through the seventh. How's that for analysis?
4:49 p.m., Bottom 6th, Rockies 3, Phillies 2: Be warned: there is a guy dressed as Benjamin Franklin behind home plate this afternoon. It could get rowdy. Utley strikes out for the third time, frustrating every 12-year-old girl in eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware.
4:46 p.m., Mid 6th, Rockies 3, Phillies 2: Atkins flies to center, and the crowd rises once more for a two-strike pitch to Hawpe. Hmm. Squeezing him a little bit. No matter, Hawpe swings and misses at the next one.
4:43 p.m., Top 6th, Rockies 3, Phillies 2: Hamels comes back from 3-0 down to get Helton swinging. Hmm, coming back from a 3-0 deficit? Foreshadowing!
4:39 p.m., End 5th, Rockies 3, Phillies 2: If Victorino had Tino Martinez's mother, he'd be Tino Victorino. Food for thought. Mr. Hawaii grounds out to second, but after this inning honor is restored to the afternoon. TBS shows an ad for Frank Caliendo's TV show, and just as quickly that honor disappears.
4:37 p.m., Bottom 5th, Rockies 3, Phillies 2: Francis slips up and throws high, almost above the reach of Torrealba, and Ruiz swipes second. The M-V-P chant is going for Rollins with a full count. He walks, in the manner of a true leader. Gandhi did a lot of walking, you know. Rockies Pitching Coach Bob Apodaca out. Runners first and second for Victorino.
4:33 p.m., Bottom 5th, Rockies 3, Phillies 2: Ruiz with a sharp grounder past Tulowitzki into left, and now it's hitting star Cole Hamels. Manuel should have let him swing away, as he pops up a bunt to Atkins at third. Ruiz stays at first.
4:32 p.m., Bottom 5th, Rockies 3, Phillies 2: Now it's our good buddy Wes Helms, who's 6-for-10 career against Francis. He strokes it deep to left and ... just short. Holliday makes the grab. Go back to the nerds table, Wes!
4:29 p.m., Bottom 5th, Rockies 3, Phillies 2: The crowd's back, and guess who gets to inherit the noise? Pat Burrell! Uh ... oh, wait, that's a good thing! A great thing, as a matter of fact! Home run just over the wall in left! Here we go!
4:27 p.m., Bottom 5th, Rockies 3, Phillies 1: OK, I just figured something out ... the reason the view of the pitcher and batter looks a little fuzzy right now is because the camera in center field is in the light and both Francis and Rowand are in the shadow ... science! And here's some more science: pitch+Rowand's bat= home run to right-center field!
4:24 p.m., Mid 5th, Rockies 3, Phillies 0: Hey, what a diving play by Wes Helms to peg a Holliday grounder, and he fires to first for the out! OK, Wes. I hear you. Just get one key hit and you can be my friend. Maybe.
4:22 p.m., Top 5th, Rockies 3, Phillies 0: Carlos Ruiz avoids Troy Tulowitzki, who was standing in the on-deck circle, to catch Matsui's foul pop-up. A-Rod would have yelled something to try and distract him, Troy. Tulo grounds out to Rollins and quickly we have two out.
4:19 p.m., End 4th, Rockies 3, Phillies 0: Utley strikes out and hearts beat a little bit slower. Howard then strikes out and my blood pressure goes up.
4:16 p.m., Bottom 4th, Rockies 3, Phillies 0: The Phillies are at the very least hitting the ball hard now, as Victorino one-hops a quick grounder to Hawpe at third. And now, especially for the ladies, Chase Utley.
4:13 p.m., Mid 4th, Rockies 3, Phillies 0: The Rockies decide to play a game of wiffleball, as Francis hits it back to Hamels, too. Maybe they need to borrow Rollins' sunglasses so they can see the ball again.
4:09 p.m., Top 4th, Rockies 3, Phillies 0: By the way, I should note this game is on pace to finish in precisely three hours, in case you're anxious for the first pitch of the Red Sox-Angels game and can't be bothered to switch over to TNT, which will have spillover. Spilborghs strikes out to bring up Torrealba (edit). Right back to the box (ah yes, remember in the 19th century when the pitcher's mound was surrounded by a box drawn on the field? No? Never mind). NOW Francis is up.
4:07 p.m, End 3rd, Rockies 3, Phillies 0: Double-play, third-to-second-to-first. Lovely. Did the Mets sneak into the Phillies' locker room and steal their jerseys or something?
4:05 p.m, Bottom 3rd, Rockies 3, Phillies 0: Hamels breaks up Francis' no-no with a big base hit! For the first time since the top of the first we have some good consistent noise in the house, too, as Rollins is up.
4:03 p.m., Bottom 3rd, Rockies 3, Phillies 0: And, just what you want after you finally get a 1-2-3 in the top of an inning: your 8-9-1 hitters are up! At least the Phillies No. 1 is Rollins. So Ruiz has an dinged-up arm from getting hit by a pitch Sunday and you're starting him instead of Coste? Not surprisingly, he strikes out, but at least it's not a swinging strike this time.
3:59 p.m., Mid 3rd, Rockies 3, Phillies 0: Hey, Hamels strikes out Atkins and he now has as many strikeouts (four) as Francis does! At least it's something. The crowd tries to muster some enthusiasm for a two-strike count to Brad Hawpe with two out. He flies to Rowand and center, and finally, a 1-2-3 for Hamels.
3:56 p.m., Top 3rd, Rockies 3, Phillies 0: Hamels struggling to find control as he runs the count to 2-0 with a high and inside pitch that makes Helton wince. Along with everyone in the ballpark. He flies out to center, and it's polite applause again. They go to David Aldridge with a special report on shadows!
3:53 p.m., End 2nd, Rockies 3, Phillies 0: Helms pops to Matsui in short right field to end the inning. An HDTV commercial shows a little girl making a collage of Rockies players. This is followed by a Budweiser ad. Is the world trying to drive Phillies fans into alcoholism?
3:51 p.m., Bottom 2nd, Rockies 3, Phillies 0: Did I mention the ballpark sounds like a sanctuary right now? The crowd gives a polite applause as Burrell walks to become their first baserunner of the game. This is what we've got to go on at the moment: a Burrell walk to set up Helms at the plate with two out. Yipes!
3:48 p.m., Bottom 2nd, Rockies 3, Phillies 0: The shadow gets its first reference as Rowand bats. Hey, it's contact, and it's in play, but it's right to Tulowitzki at short, who throws to old man Helton at first for the out. Pat Burrell swings and misses at strike one so hard his helmet falls off. Hoo boy.
3:46 p.m., Bottom 2nd, Rockies 3, Phillies 0: Don Orsillo cruelly references the Phils' 10,000th all-time loss as the inning begins. Howard does his best to extend things as he runs the count full and fouls away a few pitches, but he fails to avoid becoming the fourth straight Phil to strike out swinging.
3:43 p.m., Mid 2nd, Rockies 3, Phillies 0: Holliday strikes out (not very MVP-like, doncha think?) and Hamels escapes what could have been even greater disaster. As it is, I still think the Phils could use a long inning of their own, since Hamels was sweating like a fat man in a marathon halfway through the top of the 2nd. Two words are beginning to define this day: not good.
3:39 p.m., Top 2nd, Rockies 3, Phillies 0: Full count to Tulowitzki with two out, so runners going here ... and they can slow down. Hamels' third walk of the inning results in a run scored. Simpson references a June 29 appearance for Hames against the Mets when Hamels walked five, the last time Hamels walked more than three in a single game. And Holliday knocks a booming foul ball just to the good side of the pole in left.
3:34 p.m., Top 2nd, Rockies 2, Phillies 0: Francis bunts successfully with two strikes to make it runners second and third for Matsui. The Phillies fans, recognizing the importance of their situation, begin to make some noise to encourage Hamels. They go back to sitting on their hands after ball one. And now it's a 2-0 count. And now 3-0. Not good. Hamels works it full now and the crowd comes back ... key moment here ... ah, foul ball. Wave the towels one more time, guys ... ball four in the dirt, bases loaded! This is decidedly not looking good. Pitching Coach Rich Dubee out to visit.
3:31 p.m., Top 2nd, Rockies 2, Phillies 0: Torrealba with a single up the middle to bring Atkins home. Runners first and second, one away. Thank god for no DH, though, as Francis is up.
3:29 p.m., Top 2nd, Rockies 1, Phillies 0: Hamels pulls a Francis and gets Hawpe to swing for strike three. And now comes the most anonymous of players for AL-only fans tuning in today, Ryan Spilborghs! He's got Hamels' respect though, as he seems a bit apprehensive about giving him something to hit. Four-pitch walk.
3:26 p.m., Top 2nd, Rockies 1, Phillies 0: Atkins singles home Helton to put the Rocks on top. Uh-oh. I'm now beginning to wish I was live-blogging whatever it is that's on Howard TV right now.
3:23 p.m., Top 2nd, Rockies 0, Phillies 0: Comcast just gave us an ad for Howard Stern's on-demand TV show ... www.howard.tv if you're interested. And quickly Todd Helton reminds us not to get distracted as he bangs a lead-off triple off the center field wall.
3:20 p.m., End 1st, Rockies 0, Phillies 0: Phillies looking a tad aggressive as Victorino makes it two swinging K's in a row, but at least they're stylish doing it ... he had on some fly sunglasses, too. Here comes the shades-less Chase Utley. Let's see if hte lack of eyewear makes a difference ... no. He goes down swinging, too. Hmm.
3:18 p.m., Bottom 1st, Rockies 0, Phillies 0: The lights are on at CBP for some reason, apparently to combat the late afternoon shadows. A cookie to the announcer who becomes the first to unearth the Yogi Berra "It gets late early out here" line this October. Let's hope Jimmy Rollins' red sunglasses can decode the scattered light. Apparently not. He strikes out after Francis ran the count to 3-0.
3:14 p.m., Mid 1st, Rockies 0, Phillies 0: Hamels gets Tulowitzki to chase a 3-2 changeup out of the zone for strike three. And the Phillies fans do what they do best: boo, and this time it's directed at Matt Holliday, otherwise known as the man who's finishing second to Rollins in the MVP vote. Slow roller down the first base line and neither Hamels nor Howard seem committal before Howard proves athletic big man is not just a basketball term. He tags Tulowitzki out just before he touches the bag, and this time, the right call is made. End of the inning.
3:09 p.m., Top 1st, Rockies 0, Phillies 0: How terrible must this be for Mets fans? The first batter of the postseason is Kaz Matsui! And he's out on a chopper to Rollins. Dale Scott is home plate umpire today, so blame him if/when someone is called safe at home without ever touching the plate.
3:07 p.m., Top 1st, Rockies 0, Phillies 0: It's 80 degrees with 60 percent humidity in Philly today, which is good news for the Phils, who can fool themselves into believing it's just a mid-June game or a split-squad spring training contest. So here it comes ... first pitch to Matsui issssssssssssssssss ... fouled off!
3:03 p.m., Awaiting 1st pitch: OK, here we go. With us on the telecast are Don Orsillo, aka the Red Sox play-by-play guy, Joe Simpson, aka Mr. Braves homer and color guy for TBS Braves telecasts, and sideline reporter David Aldridge, aka the inheritor of Stephen A. Smith's flame at the the Philadelphia Inquirer and erstwhile ESPN NBA expert. Comedy gold, people, comedy gold!