NLDS 2010: Phillies Sweep Reds, Advance to Third Straight NLCS

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NLDS 2010: Phillies Sweep Reds, Advance to Third Straight NLCS
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

I would have never believed that as a Philadelphia Phillies fan a sweep in the NLDS would feel about the same as a win in mid-June.

There's certainly excitement over the series win, but this is an expected step back to the World Series at this point. The Cincinnati Reds are a good team, but there was never any real anxiety that the series would turn out any other way.

The Phillies top three starting pitchers couldn't allow it. Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels were absolutely lights out, and even though Roy Oswalt looked very uncomfortable at times during his Game 2 start, he pitched well enough for the Phils to roll and get an early start preparing for whomever they might face in the NLCS.

At this point, it looks like a rematch of NL East foes isn't going to happen and the Phils will face off against a team that has the same type of feel in the San Francisco Giants.

Both teams rely on great pitching and have been able to count on their offenses to do just enough this season to allow them to win games.

But for as great as the Giants pitchers can be, they just don't match up with the Phillies' staff.

Even if we call Halladay vs. Tim Lincecum a wash, I don't think many people would argue that Matt Cain is better than Oswalt or that Barry Zito or Jonathan Sanchez are better than Hamels at this point.

Hamels has been a bit erratic throughout his career, but he's been spectacular this season and is coming off a complete game shut-out to send the Phils into the next stage of the playoffs.

And if the Atlanta Braves happen to steal the series from the Giants, we've seen what the Phils can do to Bobby Cox and his squad. The Phillies' offense has to be a cause for concern at this point, and Charlie Manuel must make sure they aren't becoming complacent, but they can stand with either the Braves or the Giants.

Anything other than a World Series appearance will be a disappointment. In fact, just appearing in the World Series for a third consecutive season likely won't be enough for the fans of Philadelphia. The talk is of a Phillies dynasty, and it's what everyone wants to see.

If Oswalt can pick up his play another notch, there isn't anything other than themselves standing in the way of that dream becoming reality.

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