Saturday, October 6, 2007
After a long wait, Moyer gets another postseason opportunity
By Jim Caple
DENVER -- Down 2-0 in their NL Division Series with Colorado, Philadelphia turns its season over to a pitcher old enough that the Rockies are probably studying his past games on silent, black-and-white kinescope.
Jamie Moyer will turn 45 next month yet continues to give middle-aged Americans hope despite their growing paunches and thinning hair. So old-school that he shows his stirrup socks, Moyer was 14-12 with a 5.01 ERA this season, the 11th season in the past 12 he has won at least 11 games. He has won 230 games, almost 200 of them since turning 30. And when the Phillies needed a victory to clinch the National League East on the final Sunday of the season, Moyer came up big, holding the Washington Nationals to one unearned run in 5 1/3 innings in an eventual 6-1 win.
Father Time will have to do so again Saturday if the Phillies are to live another day. Not only is Philadelphia in an elimination game but it also is facing a team that has won 16 of its last 17 games and doing so in a park notoriously difficult for pitchers.
"I enjoy this, I really do,'' Moyer said of his Game 3 start at a news conference Thursday. "I would much rather be here doing it than sitting at home watching it -- and I've sat at home too many years watching it.''
It took Moyer 13 pro seasons, seven organizations and three pink slips before he finally reached the postseason with the 1997 Mariners, only to leave in the fifth inning with an elbow injury when he had a 2-1 lead in a game against the Orioles. When the Mariners returned to the playoffs three years later, Moyer had his leg broken by a line drive in a pre-series simulated game that cost him a chance to pitch (and possibly cost the Mariners a chance to get to the World Series). He was 3-0 in the 2001 postseason, but again finished shy of the World Series when the Mariners lost to the Yankees in the ALCS despite having won 116 games in the regular season.
Moyer is old enough that Wrigley Field didn't have lights when he was a rookie with the Cubs. He also is a generation older than the Rockies franchise.
He has pitched twice in Coors Field, once during an interleague game with the Mariners and again this season when he gave up five runs in 5 2/3 innings in a loss.
2007 Season Stats
"I don't feel like I have enough history here to make judgment on ball carrying, things like that,'' Moyer said. "The only thing I know here is, you know, the dimensions are fairly large because of the altitude.''
The Rockies know what they will get from Moyer, though -- a frustrating pitcher whose precise command, knowledge of hitters and baffling change of speeds keeps batters off balance and often sends them back to the dugout shaking their heads. His fastballs and changeups are so below the major league norm that one batter once referred to Moyer's style as "throwing feathers.''
Moyer took a no-hitter into the seventh inning when he went 3-1 in April, but he struggled in July and August. He bounced back somewhat in September, going 2-2 with a 4.67 ERA. How he pitches in October remains to be seen, but he has one thing going for him: the wisdom of age.
"This is what you dream about, what you play for, and it's exciting,'' he told reporters. "And, you know, all the work that you do in the offseason, all the work that you do early in the day before the game starts, all the preparation as far as the mental side of things, the scouting reports that you get, this is what it's all about. This is what it comes down to.''
Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com.
This is what you dream about, what you play for, and it's
--Jamie Moyer, on pitching
in the postseason