Phillies third base coach Sam Perlozzo saw me coming and put up a stop sign.
I, at least, held up.
“What?” Perlozzo shouted in mock anger. “It was a planned play!”
If that was a planned play, this is the Great American Novel.
Let’s not kid ourselves, OK?
Roy Oswalt pitched eight brilliant innings Sunday night, but also ran the bases with reckless abandon.
And even that worked out.
“Comical,” Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins told me in his postgame interview on FOX.
“We got lucky,” Perlozzo grumbled.
But leave it to Phillies manager Charlie Manuel to deliver the best line on his crazy-legged pitcher.
“What the hell are we going to do, rope him?” Manuel said.
Phillies fans might have suggested worse if Oswalt had been thrown out at the plate after running through Perlozzo’s stop sign in the seventh with the Phils leading, 2-1.
But Oswalt’s mad dash will be remembered as part of the lore of the Phillies’ 6-1 victory, which evened the National League Championship Series at one game apiece.
Oswalt triggered the Phils’ four-run inning with a single that knocked out Giants left-hander Jonathan Sanchez. He advanced to second on an intentional walk to Chase Utley with one out, and then the fun began.
Placido Polanco followed with a single to center off reliever Ramon Ramirez. Perlozzo, ever prepared, already had gone through the play in his mind.
He knew that the Giants’ speedy center fielder, Andres Torres, would close on the ball quickly. He had no intention of waving home a pitcher, of all players, when holding him would have loaded the bases with one out.
Perlozzo positioned himself far down the line and held up both hands. Seconds later, he put his hands on top of his head, as if he were about to witness a train wreck.
Good thing for the Phillies, though, that at least one player on the field was paying attention to the third base coach.
Giants first baseman Aubrey Huff, positioned behind the mound, glanced over at Perlozzo, saw his stop sign and cut off Torres’ throw.
Huff quickly turned to throw home once he sensed that Oswalt was heading to the plate, but the delay enabled the pitcher to slide under catcher Buster Posey’s tag and avoid his rightful demise.
“I’ve got to let it go,” Huff said. “In hindsight, if I let it go, he’s nailed.”
“No question, we had him dead,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
Perlozzo did not disagree.
“With less than two outs, it’s certainly not the time to take a chance,” he said. “I didn’t even think there was a chance.”
The other Phillies players, of course, thought the whole thing hysterical.
“I probably can’t say exactly what the reaction was,” right fielder Jayson Werth said. “It was something like, ‘Oh no, oh yes,’ with some other adjectives and verbs in there.”
Rollins told me on the field that Oswalt has “those stiff hips . . . it looks like he was made out of cardboard running down the line.”
Later, sitting next to Oswalt in the interview room, Rollins was more expansive.
“Actually, I was in the cage trying to get my swing,” said Rollins, who hit a three-run double later in the inning. “And, as Roy said, ‘speed don’t slump.’”
The room broke into laughter.
“Obviously Roy knew he could make it, so he kept running, or he was just too tired to stop. It was a nice slide, too. Roy, that was pretty nice. That was something I would do. Actually, I probably wouldn’t have needed to slide.”
And the room erupted in laughter again.
Rollins, who entered the game 1 for 15 in the postseason and 1 for 16 in his career against Sanchez, also revealed that Oswalt had used his bat in the game, giving him a shot of confidence.
When Oswalt hit his single to start the seventh, Rollins thought to himself, “See, the bat still has hits in it. It’s just the person using it.”
And wouldn’t you know it? Rollins ended up with the biggest hit of all.
Still, it all started with reckless Roy, the pitcher who needs to be lassoed.
“I ain’t that good; I’m not a cowboy,” Manuel said. “I might look like one, talk like one, but I’m not one.”
Here’s a suggestion, Charlie:
Hire a Dallas Cowboy as third base coach, just in case someone needs to tackle Oswalt.