Philadelphia Phillies: Watching Ghosts of Playoffs Past from Home
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It is tough being a Phillies fan with the team out of the playoffs. But at least you are getting to watch some of your old favorites delivering more October magic.
Check out the sick air Jayson Werth got tonight after hitting a walk-off home run to save the Washington Nationals' season. Before Werth signed his seven-year, $126 million contract with the Nationals, he was the Phillies' sneaky big-game performer.
In 40 games over four postseason runs (he was gone for last year's National League Division Series loss against the St. Louis Cardinals), Werth hit 11 home runs, drove in 23 runs and scored 27 times. In other words, against postseason-caliber pitching, Werth hit at a clip that over a full season would be 44 home runs, 92 runs batted in and 108 runs scored.
This is not to say that the Phillies could or should have matched Werth's deal with the Nationals. For the most part, Werth's regular-season tenure with the Nationals has been forgettable. But there he was, with his team's season on the line, delivering again.
The New York Yankees' season was not hanging in the balance in the bottom of the ninth in Game 3 of the American League Division Series with the Baltimore Orioles...but it was headed that way. Trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the ninth, in a series tied at one, future Hall of Famer turned Yankee fans' whipping boy Alex Rodriguez was due to hit with one out.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi told Rodriguez to put his bat down and sit this one out. And up stepped...Raul Ibanez? That's who Girardi wanted in place of a guy who made $30 million this season? A guy with 647 career home runs? (Regular season, of course, but still.)
Yup. And Ibanez, last seen patrolling left field in Citizens Bank Park the past three seasons (including three playoff runs), promptly made Girardi's daring call look prescient and brilliant all at once. Ibanez hit a home run to tie the game. That would have been enough...except Ibanez then hit the game-winning home run in the 12th inning.
Again, this does not mean that the Phillies made the wrong choice in letting Ibanez walk after last season. The Yankees had the flexibility to play Ibanez primarily against right-handed pitching; Ibanez's game-tying blast last night came off right-handed closer Jim Johnson.
But for Phillies fans who doubtlessly remember Ibanez just missing a home run late in Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS against the Cardinals, a home run that might have given the Phillies one more grasp at the title? It's tough.
And yes, Kyle Lohse's Cardinals team lost today on that aforementioned Werth blast, but he could hardly be faulted. Lohse went seven innings and gave up one run on two hits. For Phillies fans who still remember Lohse giving up a grand slam to Kaz Matsui of the Colorado Rockies in the 2007 NLDS, well, this guy is basically unrecognizable.
Of course, when he's hitting .125 in the postseason like he is now, so is Hunter Pence...but there he is, headed to the National League Championship Series with the San Francisco Giants.
Or, as Phillies fans would say, Pence is headed to the NLCS one year too late.
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