Pat Gillick, who won titles with Toronto in 1992 and '93, turned a good club
into a World Series team by thievishly filling out his roster. After arriving
in November 2005, he added Moyer, Dobbs, closer Brad Lidge, utility player Eric
Bruntlett, relievers Chad Durbin and Scott Eyre, third baseman Pedro Feliz and
outfielders Jason Werth, Matt Stairs, So Taguchi and Geoff Jenkins--all at the
major league cost of just two inconsequential players, middle reliever Geoff
Geary and unproven outfielder Michael Bourn.
phantasmagoria wasn't complete, however, until Hamels emerged as the bona fide
stopper. The Phillies drafted him with the 17th pick in 2002 out of Rancho
Bernardo in San Diego, where his appreciation for Padres closer Trevor Hoffman
and his lack of an overpowering fastball led him to embrace the changeup.
"Growing up in San Diego," Hamels says, "the competition is so
heavy that guys can hit 95-mile-an-hour fastballs. . . . You can't really go
out there and think, I can blow away everybody."
Over 84 major
league starts, the 6' 3", 190-pound Hamels has gone 38-23 and established
his change as one of the best in the game. "I play catch with him, and even
then the movement on his changeup is amazing to see," Moyer says. "What
separates his from other guys' is he has such good movement and he throws it to
both sides of the plate. The typical lefthanded changeup moves down and away
from righthanders. But Cole will throw his anytime and anywhere. He can get
away with throwing it down and in to lefthanders because there's so much
movement. Maybe a scientist can explain it better, the way he's tall and it's
all about levers and such. But it's so good, it's almost like an optical
illusion as it comes to the plate."
Only the forces of
nature could slow Hamels's ascension to the pantheon of elite postseason
pitchers. Slogging through the rain on Monday night, Hamels limited the Rays to
one run through 52⁄3 innings before the soggy conditions and Tampa Bay finally
caught up to him. With two outs and nobody on, B.J. Upton reached on an infield
single, hydroplaned to second with a stolen base and scored on the single by
Peña. The hit and the rain--Game 5 was suspended in the bottom of the
sixth--ended Hamels's bid to become the first pitcher ever to win five starts
in a postseason, the 2008 version of which had become his personal property as
much as October 1988 had belonged to Orel Hershisher.
being in this position," pitching coach Rich Dubee says of the player
teammates call Hollywood for his comfort in the spotlight. "He knows he has
stardom written all over him."
the glamour from the Rays, who otherwise were a breakout hit themselves. They
set a postseason record with 23 stolen bases and, through Monday, were just two
home runs shy of that postseason record (27 by the 2002 Giants). Tampa Bay's
youth and ability to manufacture runs, without any great sacrifice in power,
make it the right team at the right time, a well-rounded model for the
post-Mitchell Report era: The AL home run champion this year (Detroit's Miguel
Cabrera) went deep the fewest times (37) for an AL leader since 1989. The Rays'
inventiveness was on full display in Game 2, which they won 4-2 without an
extra-base hit but with the help of three runs that scored on outs--two
groundouts and a safety squeeze. "I can't tell you how happy I was with
that," Maddon said. "Ground ball, ground ball, bunt, three points right
there. That's beautiful."
the Series was shaping up as a connoisseur's delight, with the little-watched
Game 3 installment continuing the trend. The Rays, down 4-1 in the seventh,
summoned more resourcefulness, tying the game with two runs on groundouts and
adding another in the eighth without the ball leaving the infield, thanks to
Upton's speed. The centerfielder beat out an infield single and, one out later,
zipped around the bases on two pitches, stealing second on the first and third
on the next, then continuing home when catcher Carlos Ruiz threw wildly.
answered with a bizarre run of their own to win the game in the ninth.
Bruntlett, a .217 batter, was hit by a J.P. Howell fastball to open the inning,
moved to second on a wild pitch and continued to third on a throwing error by
catcher Dioner Navarro. Maddon had the next two batters intentionally walked to
load the bases, then repositioned rightfielder Ben Zobrist to a fifth infield
spot, behind the mound and in front of second base. At 13 minutes before two in
the morning, the diamond in South Philly resembled the 30th Street train
station. Fifteen men were jammed around it: five infielders, four umpires,
three baserunners, a pitcher, a catcher and a batter, Ruiz. Taking a mighty
cut, Ruiz--himself only a .219 hitter during the regular season--found one
piece of no-man's-land inside the crowded infield. He bounced a 45-foot
dribbler toward third; Evan Longoria hopelessly flung the ball wildly to the
plate. The latest start in World Series history (10:06 p.m. first pitch)
ended with the first walk-off infield hit in World Series history.
I think it's great
that right now the game is getting back to a game for athletes with speed and
multiple skills," Rollins said before Game 4. "I look at a guy like
B.J., and he's just ridiculous. He can just flat out fly. But you know what?
It's pretty good to have power too. There's still nothing like having the
ability to score with one swing."
Indeed, for all
their young legs, the Phillies, trying to become the first team since the 1984
Tigers to lead its league in homers and win the World Series, still can mash
with any team in baseball, as their Game 4 rout attested. Howard drove in
half the runs with two swings, a three-run bomb to left and a two-run bomb to
right. Werth also walloped a homer, as, remarkably, did winning pitcher Joe
Blanton, a career .061 hitter (2 for 33, postseason included) whose ovoid
silhouette and massive swing made him look, as Stairs put it, "like a
younger Babe Ruth."