PHILADELPHIA -- In this city of brotherly love, not only the Liberty Bell is cracked.
The Philadelphia Phillies are, too. They still think they can win the World Series.
One night after the Nightmare on Broad Street, John Kruk bounced into the home clubhouse, said hello to his spittoon and prepared for Game 5. The Phillies' round mound of sound still refused to recognize that 15-14 defeat in Game 4.
"This series . . ." Kruk said, "it's tied 2-2, right?"
Kruk's math was his off, but his heart in the right place. Not that there ever was a doubt. The Phillies would rather have their backs against the wall than miss last call.
"The mood of my club?" manager Jim Fregosi mentioned early Thursday evening. "I think they're ready for an all-expenses paid trip to a foreign country."
And to Canada, the Phillies go. Curt Schilling, their ace during the conquest of the Atlanta Braves, beat the Toronto Blue Jays 2-0 in Game 5. He started, he finished, he yielded only five hits an astounding accomplishment considering the bonfire Philadelphia's staff precipitated in Game 4.
Schilling had the gruesome task of charting pitches for that marathon. If nothing else, he learned what not to do. The Blue Jays are a fastball-hitting team, and an opposing pitcher's surest path toward self-destruction is by falling behind.
Schilling, an aggressive sort, took the opposite tack. He also kept Mitch Williams under lock and key. The Phillies' bullpen featured only a cameo appearance by Terry Mulholland, who would have been used here in an emergency. Instead, he will work Game 6, which is necessary, Saturday night in Toronto.
If these Phillies were looking for more encouragement, the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates could be helpful. That team was cast as a furry family of sorts -- talented characters all. Their assignment in the World Series was another of those polished Baltimore clubs blessed with pitching, defense and the fertile mind of manager Earl Weaver.
The Pirates lost the first three of four and were pronounced dead. The Pirates beat Mike Flanagan at home, but still the Orioles returned to Baltimore with Jim Palmer and Scott McGregor ready and waiting. Lo and behold, the Pirates whipped them both and won the tournament.
After the Phillies lost Game 4, the Vet hosted an evacuation drill. Fans left in a hurry, quietly, heads down. All eyes toward the
shoetops. The mood in the city Thursday was no better than the weather. Gray and ominous. Because of rain, there was no batting practice before Game 5. As if these teams needed batting practice.
When the Phillies took the field, though, the building reverberated. A standing ovation as they assumed their positions for the last home game of a shiny season.
Len Dykstra, who had been a hero "in the toughest loss I ever experienced" Thursday morning, was at it again Thursday night. First, he showed up as leadoff man with that feisty gate (loud applause). Then he drew a walk from Juan Guzman (louder). He stole second, then advanced to third on catcher Pat Borders' throwing error. Kruk's hard grounder to the right side made it 1-0 (still louder).
After doubles by Darren Daulton and Kevin Stocker made it 2-0 in the second, the fans really got into it. Kruk, charging a bunt by Guzman in the third, was relentless. Kruk pounced and started a double play by firing to second to head off Pat Borders, who had singled.
Game 4 was so ridiculous, it's already part of revisionist history. Before Thursday night's contest, official scorers announced a change in gory details of Toronto's 15-14 victory. The ball that Paul Molitor pulled by his opposing third baseman, Dave Hollins, was instrumental to Toronto's winning rally.
Originally, the scoring panel deemed it an error on Hollins, the only one during Game 4. But, it's now been changed to a double for Molitor. There were 32 hits in Wednesday night's game, not 31. Good thing there was no designated hitter, or it really would have gotten out of hand.