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World Series Game 4 ends in Yankees win, heartache for Phillies and fans

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I can't begin to describe the emptiness I am feeling right now as a Phillies fan.

This was our game. Pedro Feliz homered to tie it in the eighth. Brad Lidge, who has been having a fantastic postseason, was going to come in and hold down the fort. Phils would win in walk-off fashion to tie the series up at two games each. The script was written, it just had to play out.

It never did. It never will.

Instead, it was like watching a nightmare unfold right in front of you, and there was nothing you can do to stop it. There's two outs in the top of the ninth. Brad Lidge has two strikes on Johnny Damon, and supposedly had him struck out on a close pitch. Carlos Ruiz can't hold on to another strike three. Damon singles after what practically seemed like a thirty pitch at-bat. Lidge can't hold runners on, so you know Damon is going to second. Almost makes you wonder why Chooch even threw the ball with Feliz shifting over for Mark Teixeira. Then, it all unravelled. Quickly, horribly.

Lidge forgets to cover third base, and Damon gets there easily. The chances of Feliz catching Damon in a race are slim to none. But come on Pedro, at least try to run after him or at least tag his cleat! Was there any strategy whatsoever as far as how to handle the shift when Damon was running?

A hit batsman later, and the winning run is driven in by A-Fraud. A-Fraud? Really? A-Fraud- and his .077 2009 World Series average prior to this at-bat. As if Phillies fans aren't disgusted enough, we are beaten in a World Series game by this "crumb" of a cheater, and the poster boy for steroids and greed. I'll stop here because I eventually want to sell my condo, and property damages are quite expensive. Game over. Yankees win 7-4 and are up (gulp) 3-1 in the series.

This game was a microcosm for the Phillies entire season: The team's constant inability to hit with runners in scoring position, and Lidge's season-long struggles. Just to prove my point, the Yankees scored two runs in the top of the fifth inning after the Phillies tie the game. The meat of their order got those runs home. In the bottom of the fifth when the Phils were threatening, the meat of our order pops up and strikes out. The Yankees are executing, the Phillies are not. Chase Utley did homer in the bottom of the seventh off CC Sabathia, but we really needed that jolt in the bottom of the fifth. The Yankees aren't exactly ripping the cover off the ball. Half of their runs scored tonight were on freak plays and bloopers. But freak plays and bloopers don't show up in the box score. All that shows is that W. And right now, the Yankees need one more W to take that trophy from the Phillies. Winners find a way to win. And truth be told, judging by this World Series, you would think that the Yankees were there last year and the Phillies were the "upstarts."

In fact, no matter what happens the rest of this series, this Phillies loss will not only rival the most heartbreaking losses in the history of the Phillies franchise (and there have been many), but all of Major League Baseball as well.

Oh this Phillies franchise, risen from the ashes in the early 2000's after decades of futility, only to ascend to the top of the baseball world a year ago. A franchise supposed to be (and still could be) poised for greatness in the years to come just had the biggest dose of reality slapped in its face last night. The kind of reality that can cripple a team. Not only for this series, but for years. There is absolutely nothing positive whatsoever about this dagger that was struck through the collective hearts of the Phillies faithful tonight. Only pain. Pain we've known all too well as Phillies fans. The kind of pain we've forgotten about. The kind of pain that wasn't supposed to happen to us anymore. Until tonight. Personally, I have not felt this low as a Phillies fan since Game 4 of the 1993 World Series. You know, the 15-14 game. Ironically, I happened to bump into Al Leiter (a member of that 1993 Toronto team) after the game and told him those exact same words (although the language was a little more "colorful.") Leiter laughed, and said that despite the Phillies loss, he still thinks it will make for an interesting series.

Let's not kid ourselves here friends. It doesn't take a rocket scientist for somebody to realize that the Phillies are in BIG, BIG, BIGGER THAN BIG, trouble.

Taking three in a row from the Yankees is no small feat, it will be a herculean task.  Considering only two teams in the past 30 years have come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a World Series ('79 Pirates, '85 Royals), it's damn near impossible. This Phillies team plays better with their backs against the wall, but they've never had odds stacked against them this big.  If you're Charlie Manuel and you're lucky enough to possibly win with Cliff Lee tonight at Citizens Bank Park, then you start Pedro Martinez for Game 6. However, you can't use Cole Hamels anymore if you even make a Game 7. Do you start J.A. Happ? This puts the Phils in another very tough predicament. One that I'm too tired, upset, and just plain numb to discuss anymore. It's 4:00 am, and I'm sitting at my computer still shaking my head in disbelief at what I watched tonight. 

The night I was once again hit with a heavy dose of reality of how it REALLY feels to be a Phillies fan.

 

photo: AP/Eric Gay

thumbnail: CJ Gunther/EPA