World Series: Really Late Night Baseball in Philly
Associated PressPHILADELPHIA ó Carlos Ruiz took a full cut and doinked a dribbler about 30 feet up the third-base line, just far enough to drive in the winning run.
“You couldn’t place a ball better than that. Lucky swing, perfect bounce,” lamented Tampa Bay’s Ben Zobrist.
That’s how Game 3 of the World Series ended early Sunday ó at 1:47 a.m.
Citizens Bank Park was still packed. Anyone else around the country who missed it, you’re not alone.
After a 91-minute rain delay and nine innings of back-and-forth baseball, Ruiz and the Philadelphia Phillies outlasted the speedy Rays 5-4 for a 2-1 Series lead.
Cue the after-hours party in the City of Brotherly Love.
Bars downtown closed only 13 minutes after Eric Bruntlett scored the game-winner, so delirious fans spilled into the streets to celebrate. It made for a wild scene, with traffic jams and Phillies rooters dancing on top of a bus.
Elsewhere, America snored.
Surely, some viewers switched over to “Saturday Night Live” in the middle innings and never made it back.
For others, 1:30 a.m. is too late to watch a ballgame ó no matter who’s playing.
And maybe it was fitting that Ruiz’s biggest little hit came while most fans were fast asleep. Nearly ignored in Philadelphia’s powerful lineup, the unassuming catcher has become a surprise World Series star.
“I’m so happy,” he said. “It’s an unbelievable feeling.”
With the wet weather gone, the final two games in Philadelphia were expected to go off without a hitch today. The forecast called for cool temperatures dipping below 50 degrees at night.
Joe Blanton was scheduled to start for the Phillies in Game 4 against Rays right-hander Andy Sonnanstine.
Once the rain stopped Saturday, Ruiz had a wild ride. He homered in the second inning to give the Phillies a 2-1 edge, then made a throwing error in the eighth that allowed Tampa Bay to tie it at 4.
But his teammates scratched together a rally in the ninth, when Bruntlett led off and was hit by a pitch from loser J.P. Howell. Grant Balfour relieved and threw a wild pitch that caromed off the backstop to Rays catcher Dioner Navarro, who threw wildly to second in an attempt to get Bruntlett.
The error sent Bruntlett scurrying to third, and Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon called for intentional walks to the next two batters. He also brought Zobrist in from right field for a five-man infield.
“It looked like they were about to blitz,” Phillies slugger Ryan Howard said.
Ruiz hit a trickler toward third that Evan Longoria scooped up with his bare hand. Off balance, Longoria tried a desperate, diving toss to the plate that sailed high as Bruntlett scored.