Utley's clutch throw a TYIB winner

Utley's clutch throw a TYIB winner

Derek Jeter's flip in the 2001 American League Division Series against the Athletics will always be remembered as one of the most heads-up plays in postseason history.

But what Chase Utley did in Game 5 of the World Series is arguably right up there.

In a tie game during the seventh inning of the championship clincher for the Phillies, Philadelphia's second baseman made a brilliant pump-fake to first on a ground ball to bait the Rays' Jason Bartlett to go home, then made a strong throw to get the go-ahead run out at the plate.

Two innings later, after the Phillies took a 4-3 lead in the bottom half of the seventh thanks to an RBI single by Pedro Feliz, closer Brad Lidge nailed down the win and the second World Series title in the franchise's 126-year history.

And it likely doesn't happen so early in the Series without that play.

"It was huge. It was big. It kept them from scoring," said Utley, whose sentence was cut short by a double-barreled assault of champagne on Oct. 29.

Because of his heroics, Utley's clutch throw was chosen as the 2008 Postseason Moment of the Year in MLB.com's annual This Year in Baseball Awards presented by State Farm, which was voted on by the fans. A record 12 million votes were cast, eclipsing last year's total of 9.6 million.

Utley took 35.6 percent of the vote, beating out teammate Brad Lidge's Series-clinching save by nearly 21 points.

Also nominated for the award were Coco Crisp's rally capper in Game 5 of the AL Championship Series, J.D. Drew's home run off Francisco Rodriguez in Game 2 of the ALDS, Drew's walk-off single in Game 5 of the ALCS, Evan Longoria's historic home run in Game 1 of the ALDS, Fernando Perez's dash home in Game 2 of the ALCS, David Price's Game 7 save in the ALCS, Carlos Ruiz's walk-off infield single in Game 3 of the World Series and Matt Stairs' go-ahead homer in Game 4 of the NLCS.

According to the fans, none of them were more memorable than what Utley did during Game 5 at Citizens Bank Park.

After the game, with an avalanche of champagne amid a giddy Phillies clubhouse, Utley's play was perhaps the last thing on the joyous players' minds.

But that celebration likely doesn't happen without it.

"Sometimes in a win, that's what you forget about," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said after that game. "If you think about the Milwaukee series or the Dodgers series, things that happened in the game -- you look back and think things are going your way. That's what it takes."

Alden Gonzalez is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.