Chan Ho Park plays role of hero for Philsby Eric Schwartz
In Game One of the NLCS it was Chan Ho Park that got the big outs, not George Sherrill.
And as a result, the Phillies have a 1-0 series lead.
Carlos Ruiz and Raul Ibanez each hit a three-run bomb to help lead the Phillies past the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-6, in a slugfest, Thursday night.
The much-maligned Phillies bullpen was good enough as it allowed two runs over four innings to hold the win for an OK Cole Hamels.
The biggest performance was turned in by Park, who entered the game with Adam Either on second an no outs in the seventh and the Phillies protecting a 5-4 lead.
Park proceeded to get Manny Ramirez to ground out, struck out Matt Kemp and finished the inning by getting a groundout off the bat of Casey Blake.
It was clutch in every sense of the word – something fans never would have called Park in the early stages of the season when he struggled as a starter.
Insert Sherrill in the top of the eighth. The star lefthander who had a 0.56 ERA in his 20 appearances with the Dodgers was expected to be a major key in this series. His ability to get lefties out is well documented, as is the Phils reliance on their left-handed hitters.
Sherrill struggled with his control, walking Howard and Jayson Werth to bring up Ibanez. Like he has so many times this season, Ibanez came up with a big hit, a home run to right field that gave the Phillies some much-needed insurance.
Ryan Madson made the game interesting in the eighth, allowing two runs on four hits, but with runners on the corners, he got Ramirez to ground out and end the threat.
Brad Lidge got around a hit and a walk to record his third postseason save in as many chances.
Games like Thursday night’s are why we love sports so much. It was as unpredictable as can be. Who would have thought that given Cole Hamels dominance over the Dodgers (4-0 in six starts) that he would be nearly squander a 5-1 lead and would be lifted in the sixth?
Who knew that while Manny came up with a two-run home run in the fifth, he would fail to come through in big spots in the late innings?
And who knew Park would be the game’s biggest reliever?
If the umpires continue to call the game the way they did Thursday, fans will be treated to some more high scoring games in this series. The strike zone was small giving the hitters an advantage. The hitters on the Phillies and Dodgers are too good to not take advantage of that.
There is little rest for the teams and fans as Game 2 is set for 4 p.m. today. This is likely the game that will determine if the Phils will waltz to the World Series or be in for a dogfight. Look for the Dodgers to come out firing as they can not afford to go in a 0-2 hole. If Pedro Martinez can weather the early storm the Phils have a great chance to come home up 2-0, with three games to be played in The Bank.
The question is who will be today’s hero?