The Philadelphia Phillies took 14 years to win this division.
They finally won the division last year, behind the biggest collapse in MLB history courtesy of the Mets, and a dramatic last day victory over the Nationals. But they failed to muster much of anything against the only team in baseball hotter than them last year, the Rockies.
This year, the Phillies clinched a game early, and while they were resting their starters during Sunday's 8-3 victory over the Nationals, the Brewers were playing a must win game on the day of the season, with their ace C.C. Sabathia throwing on 3 days rest for the third straight time. It took a clutch Ryan Braun two-run home run in the 8th inning to beat a bunch of Cubs bench warmers. So with some role reversal in many ways, the Brewers came out today against the Phillies kind of flat, the same eerie way the Phillies played against the Rockies in Game 1 last year...so to the game!
The Phillies sent out their hardluck ace Cole Hamels who despite his team leading 3.09 ERA had only 14 wins, and 10 losses, mostly because of his inept offensive backing whenever he pitched. He lost quite a few 1-0, 2-0, 3-2 kind of games, but he came out today with a passion, a fury, and he pitched 8 pristine innings. He struck out 3 of the first 4 batters he faced, wasn't touched up for a hit until the fifth inning, and only allowed one more hit the rest of the way. His final line:
8 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, BB, 9 K
Impressive. It really was all the Phillies needed to win, and they scored enough runs to win in the third inning. Carlos Ruiz singled, and Cole Hamels made a huge play with his bat, by bunting down the third base line. At first, it seemed that the play was going to be made at second, possibly becoming a double play, but instead the ball was bobbled so the throw to second was out of the question, and on the throw to first, Ricky Weeks could not make the clean catch, allowing both runners to be safe.
J-Roll and Werth could not get the runs in, so with two outs, Utley hit one deep to center field, but Cameron could not come down with the catch. This allowed the first two runs to score. After intentionally walking Ryan Howard, and then giving up a walk to Burrell to load the bases, another walk was issued to Victorino to drive in the third and final run of the game for the Phillies. Turns out it would be the only runs they would need.
When it came to the ninth inning, the score was still 3-0, and Cole Hamels was on the line of about 100 pitches. Lidge was given the ball in the ninth, not having pitched in three days, and well rested. Lidge came out and struck out the side, but not until he allowed a run to score, and the tying run to come up to the plate twice. But he got the job done as he always has, and the Phillies held on for their first postseason victory since Game 5 of the 1993 World Series against the Toronto Blue Jays by a final score of 3-1.