PHILADELPHIA — Two wins away from baseball's biggest stage, Phillies centerfielder Shane Victorino's eyes told the story of his pain. They were red and glassy. They were blank as he stared ahead, going through the motions of tossing clothes into his equipment bag. In 40 minutes, the team bus was leaving for the airport en route to Los Angeles, where his team could close out the Dodgers and punch its ticket to the Phillies' first World Series in 15 years.
Victorino wasn't alone. During Friday's NLCS Game 2, Phillies players could tell manager Charlie Manuel, who has guided the team to four straight winning seasons, wasn't himself. He kept to himself. He was quiet.
Victorino and Manuel tried to concentrate on the task at hand. But Philadelphia's 8-5 victory at Citizens Bank Park — a win that gave the Phillies a 2-0 series lead — paled to their losses.
Victorino, who drove in four runs and made a crucial catch, found out after the game that his 82-year-old grandmother, Irene, died earlier in the day in Hawaii.
Before the game, Manuel was told his 87-year-old mother, June, had passed away in Virginia. The cause of death in both cases was not disclosed.
Phillies starter Brett Myers gave Manuel, who reigns over the clubhouse with down-home charm, a hug before taking the mound and promised him a win.
"He's been there to pat us on the back so many times," Myers said. "If he needs to cry, he has plenty of shoulders to cry on."
Myers helped the Phillies to victory more with his bat than his arm. After getting just four hits in the regular season, Myers went 3-for-3 with three RBIs Friday, the first pitcher to do that in the postseason since Cincinnati's Dutch Ruether in the 1919 World Series. On the mound, Myers allowed five runs in five innings, including a three-run Manny Ramirez homer in the fourth.
But the Phillies offense clicked early, led by Victorino, whose hustle has made him a fan favorite in a city always looking for new heroes. His two-run triple to right-center in the third broke the game open and gave Philly an 8-2 lead.
However, it was his leaping catch against the high wall in centerfield on a drive by Casey Blake with two on in the seventh that was perhaps the play of the game. Victorino played the nook, nicknamed "The Angle," perfectly, extending his right arm to gauge where the fence was before jumping to take the ball off the wall.
Victorino said he spoke to his grandmother at least once a week, and his last conversation with her came Thursday over the phone. She couldn't talk back, but "at least I could talk to her one more time," said Victorino, who added that his father waited to tell him until after the game.
And that's when, as Victorino prepared to head west, the Hawaii native could only think about how he would make it to the funeral. The Phillies play Sunday and Monday, then would have a day off before Game 5 — if more games are needed.
"I'm going home," he said. "Hopefully (his family) can arrange it so that it's on an off day. I want to see my grandmother one more time. Just like I'm sure Charlie wants to see his mom one more time. But I'm sure my grandmother would want me to be with the team, because this is my job."