Damon's Daring Dash Digs Deeper Ditch for Da Phillies

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With the game tied at four and Phillies closer Brad Lidge on the mound with two outs in his back pocket, Johnny Damon's nine-pitch, ninth inning at bat seemed to be a turning point in the game. Fella fouled off a bunch of pitches and reached on a tidy single. That was a memorable play until Damon one-upped himself by stealing two bases on one Lidge pitch, thanks to the Phillies infield's shift towards the right side; those two stolen bases set up the winning run and granted Damon an entry on the all-time crazy World Series playlist, right behind the time Denny McLain did a line off the brim of Bill Freehan's helmet.

On the all-important stolen base play, three very important things happened. First, Damon used a nugget that he had in his back pocket for over a year. In 2008, Damon noticed how teams would shift when his former teammate Jason Giambi came to the dish and thought it'd be a good opportunity to swipe two bases in one fell swoop. Second, Brad Lidge failed to cover third base, leaving Pedro Feliz to chase hopelessly after Damon. Finally, with a runner on third, Brad Lidge could not throw his filthy breaking balls to Alex Rodriguez lest a wild pitch allowed Damon to score. A-Rod sat on a Lidge fastball and drove it to the wall, setting up the third Yankees win in a row.

Damon's play was smart, yes, but also risky. Had Damon been tagged out by Feliz or caught in a rundown, we'd be singing a different song today (besides "Poker Face", which I cannot get out of my head). Instead, the Yanks are now but one win away from a World Championship and Brad Lidge's 2008 mojo has been fully drained from his person.

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I won't lie, it hurt to watch that play. But its significance is being way overblown. Once he stole second, he's already in scoring position and with two outs, can only score on a base hit. Taking third was a psychological blow, but it was a risk with little to no strategic value. Yes, there's the matter of Lidge's breaking balls, but Ruiz is one of the best defensive catchers in the game and I've seen him call for sliders with runners on third before. And yes, it was a fastball A-Rod hit, but Lidge had been relying on those all night, even with no runners on. For instance, he only went with the slider against Damon after he fouled off fastball after fastball.

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