© 2009 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
DENVER -- It's a thought that warms the heart, not to mention the hands, feet, ears and nose.
If Monday's Game 4 of the National League Division Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and Colorado Rockies simply occurs on the regular, cool autumn afternoon in the Colorado air that's forecasted, it will be about 30 degrees warmer than Coors Field was by the end of Sunday night's marathon Game 3.
We probably won't see 12 walks -- eight of them issued by the Rockies -- and the game probably won't take a Division Series-record 4 hours and 6 minutes, unless, of course, these two evenly matched clubs decide to go extra innings. We also might see fewer than the 13 pitchers that trotted out to the mound Sunday night in the Phillies' 6-5 win that put them up 2-1 in the best-of-five set.
In other words, life should
"Tomorrow will be better," said Rockies left fielder Carlos Gonzalez, and it's hard to imagine how that could be possible for Colorado's leadoff man, who singled, homered, doubled, stole a base and is now hitting .615 (8-for-13) in the series.
Sunday night was better for the Phillies, despite the fact that it was so cold that second baseman Chase Utley claimed he couldn't feel the ball that he appeared to foul off his leg in the pivotal ninth inning. Utley astutely ran to first base and was ruled safe, and the next batter, Ryan Howard, drove in the winning run with a sacrifice fly.
"It was a long game," Utley said. "It was tough. It was tough to play defense with your hands being numb. ... It was the coldest game I've ever played. I'm glad to be a part of it."
Rockies manager Jim Tracy lauded both teams for playing what he called a "tremendous baseball game" while braving the elements.
Phillies reliever Ryan Madson, who had a big smile on his face when he entered the game in the seventh, didn't seem to mind the conditions.
"It didn't feel like four hours," he said. "It felt like five minutes."
But it was clear that pitchers were having problems gripping the ball, which might have led to the high walk total and could have contributed to the fact that Phillies starter J.A. Happ lasted only three innings and his Rockies counterpart, Jason Hammel, was pulled after 3 2/3.
"Both teams played in the same weather, so both teams had to deal with it," Rockies second baseman Clint Barmes said. "But at the same time, it was tough. For me, I was constantly blowing on my hands while on defense.
"For the pitchers, trying to get a feel for the ball, especially in the altitude and cold weather, I would assume that the grip was a big issue."
Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino grew up in Hawaii, so Sunday night was a bit extreme for his tastes, but he went to his position without long sleeves and kept it that way throughout the game.
"As the game went on, I was thinking that if we go to extra innings, I might have to wear them," Victorino said. "It's obvious that the weather had an effect on the game, but at the same time, you can't use it as an excuse for anything. It was definitely cold, but hey, both teams played in it."
Howard said he tried to stay by the heater while in the dugout but would occasionally emerge long enough to "feel the weather" and stay in the game.
"When it's 25 degrees out, it's always going to have an effect on the game," Howard said. "But both teams played well. Both teams fought. Both teams clawed. Both teams had to play in these conditions and they did."
Phillies closer Brad Lidge, who nailed down the save with a scoreless ninth, said he didn't even think it was that bad.
"I think, honestly, because it wasn't windy and there wasn't any moisture, any rain or snow or whatever here, because it didn't have those elements, it actually felt pretty good, pretty close to normal," Lidge said. "Obviously you could tell it was colder than normal. At the same time, if you keep yourself warm and with no wind and no moisture, [it] felt pretty close to normal."
Still, a warmer, sunnier Game 4 seemed like a much better idea than what the players in this frigid fracas had just experienced. Especially the Rockies, who now need to win Monday to force a deciding Game 5 in Philadelphia on Tuesday.
"I will feel my ears tomorrow," Gonzalez said. "Tomorrow will be a good day for us."