It's been so long, I had forgotten how much fun October baseball can be.
Or more accurately, I had forgotten how much fun October baseball can be when your team is winning.
And boy oh boy, right now the Phillies are winning.
They dispatched the Brewers pretty handily, despite not scoring a ton of runs. I didn't think they could go very far in the postseason playing the way they were playing. I really believed that without Utley, Howard, and Burrell hitting well, wins would be hard to come by. But they did it in other ways: solid pitching mixed with a sprinkling of timely home runs. And the best part was, after I reamed out Pat Burrell after game three of the NLDS, he hits two home runs in game four and basically becomes the hero. Isn't this a great game?
Game 1 of the NLCS could not have been scripted any better. Chase Utley and Pat Burrell hit home runs. Cole Hamels gets the win. Brad Lidge gets the save. Put Kevin Costner in there and you got yourself a pretty good movie.
Oh, i'll admit it wasn't looking very good through the first five innings. Hamels had only given up two runs to the Dodgers, but like so many times during the regular season, didn't seem to be getting any run support. And Derek Lowe appeared to be unhittable, inducing ground ball after ground ball. But the third time through the lineup must have been the charm, because that's when they got to him.
I love having Shane Victorino batting second. He gets on base, he gets things done, his speed puts pressure on the opposing defense. If Rollins can't do it, Victorino is there to back him up. In the bottom of the sixth inning he hit a ground ball to shortstop that should have been an easy play for Rafael Furcal. But he rushed his throw and overshot first baseman James Loney, allowing Victorino to take second. Then Utley parked the very first pitch of his at-bat over the right field wall for his first ever postseason home run.
Howard is still stinkin' up the joint. He hit into the shift three times this game! That's like stepping in the same puddle every time you cross the street. I am hereby calling Ryan Howard out! It worked for Burrell, maybe it will work for Howard. You stink Ryan! Who cares that you hit all those home runs during the regular season. What have you done for us lately? Show us why they're paying you $10 million a year!
Am I concerned that the Phillies are still scoring all their runs in one inning per game? Absolutely. But as long as they're winning, who am I to complain? If Brett Myers and Joe Blanton can pitch as solidly as they did in the NLDS, and if Jamie Moyer can improve on his performance, then the Phils should be able to make short work of the Dodgers.
But not too short... I have tickets to Game Six.