10/20/09 2:30 AM EST
Double dip: Two LCS walk-offs on same day
Mathis lifts Angels past Yanks; Rollins beats Dodgers
By Mark Newman / MLB.com
Jimmy Rollins even put it "at the top by far" on his own all-time list.
For both of them and for everyone who watched in this postseason of soaring fan interest, it was a Monday to remember in the playoffs.
Two League Championship Series games, two walk-off doubles to the gap, two 5-4 comebacks, two outs each time, too impossible to have imagined.
Two explosive reactions by the home fans, giddy over the hope of more as Game 1 of the World Series looms closer and closer on Oct. 28.
Wow. No one wants to let go of this Major League Baseball season.
For only the fifth time in postseason history, there were a pair of walk-off winners on the same day. It happened previously in 2007 (Manny Ramirez and Travis Hafner), 2004 (David Ortiz and Jeff Kent), 1998 (Chipper Jones and Bill Spiers), and 1986 (Bobby Grich and Lenny Dykstra). It was the third time it happened in the LCS.
Mathis doubled to the wall in left-center off Yankees reliever Alfredo Aceves in the bottom of the 11th at Angel Stadium, driving in Howard Kendrick with the winning run. It reduced the Yankees' lead in the ALCS to 2-1, with Game 4 scheduled for 7:57 p.m. ET today on FOX.
Lightning strikes twice
|Date||Series||How it was won||Inn.|
|10/11/1986||ALCS Gm. 4||Grich (CAL) 1B off Schiraldi (BOS)||11|
|NLCS Gm. 3||Dykstra (NYM) HR off Smith||9|
|10/1/1998||NLDS Gm. 2||C. Jones (ATL) 1B off Mulholland (CHC)||10|
|NLDS Gm. 2||Spiers (HOU) 1B off Hoffman (SD)||9|
|10/18/2004||ALCS Gm. 5||Ortiz (BOS) 1B off Loaiza (NYY)||14|
|NLCS Gm. 5||Kent (HOU) HR off Isringhausen (STL)||9|
|10/5/2007||ALDS Gm. 2||Ramirez (BOS) HR off Rodriguez (LAA)||9|
|ALDS Gm. 2||Hafner (CLE) 1B off Vizcaino (NYY)||11|
|10/19/2009||ALCS Gm. 3||Mathis (LAA) 2B off Aceves (NYY)||11|
|NLCS Gm. 4||Rollins (PHI) 2B off Broxton (LAD)||9|
"I mean, obviously it's the biggest hit of my life," said Mathis, a backup catcher who had entered Game 3 earlier and also doubled in his previous at-bat. "I mean, to come through, and for Howie to have the at bat he did right there and get on base and put one in the gap and score to win the game, it's a pretty good feeling."
Rollins doubled to the wall in right-center off Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton in the bottom of the ninth at Citizens Bank Park. It brought home two Phillies and stunned Dodgers faithful who were certain of their team evening the NLCS at two games apiece. Now they have a day off and then Game 5 is at 8:07 p.m. ET Wednesday on TBS.
"We believe in ourselves. We believe in our ability," Rollins said. "We know that there's 27 outs, and coming to the ninth inning -- actually about the seventh inning is actually when we start really getting, I guess, locked in, if it hasn't happened earlier -- just saying we have to put some at bats together. No one goes up there to make an out. You're going to get out, they're going to catch the ball, but you're not going to get yourself out. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. You have to play 27 outs."
You had to play more than 27 outs in Anaheim on Monday. It was a shocker to those who were watching it live on the enormous video screen back at Yankee Stadium, which the club had opened up for its fans. The Yankees clubbed four solo homers -- the first one by Derek Jeter in the game's first at-bat -- and they had a 3-0 lead entering the bottom of the fifth.
Now the Yankees bring back their ace, CC Sabathia, to start today against pressure-tested Angels lefty Scott Kazmir, who went through the drama of a seven-game LCS just a year ago while with Tampa Bay.
"You would anticipate the games being close," Jeter said. "They have a great team over there. We know it's going to be a challenge. You'd like to get things over in nine innings but it doesn't always work out that way."
It did not work out that way after Yankees manager Joe Girardi summoned Aceves in the 11th, and far more shocking still was what happened later that night in Philadelphia. If Mariano Rivera is as reliable as they get this postseason, then Broxton was right there behind him. In this postseason of so many blown saves, no one could have guessed that Broxton would have blown the ninth overall -- leaving this postseason -- just two shy of the 1995 record, according to Elias Sports Bureau. Broxton was hitting triple digits on the radar gun.
Just like that, a 2-2 series was 3-1. Now the Phillies are one win away from a chance to repeat as NL champions.
The Dodgers and Phillies will work out today at Citizens Bank Park, then Cole Hamels will try to close it out for the Phillies at home on Wednesday against Vicente Padilla. If Ryan Howard drives in at least one run in that game, then he will pass Lou Gehrig for sole possession of the Major League record of consecutive postseason games with at least one RBI. They are tied at eight games now.
At the Phillies' ballpark today, they will still be talking about what happened on that improbable Monday night from coast to coast. Just when it looked like that Freeway Series was increasing in viability, along came Rollins to join Mathis earlier.
"When the ball went in the gap, I knew it was going to score one run, and I was hoping it would hit and ricochet kind of back towards center field," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said of Rollins' double. "And I think it did kind of hit and go that way from what I saw, because that right there gives us a better chance. If it hits and comes this back way, of course the right fielder can field the ball quicker. At the same time, once it got in the gap and got by him, (Carlos Ruiz) was going to score, I think. From there everything just kind of erupted and everybody was celebrating and jumping up."
That is the kind of postseason it has been so far. Most of the games have been electric. The best of the best is being determined right now. It takes until the very end to do it.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.