“We are the team to beat.”
Jimmy Rollins, Philadelphia Phillies shortstop, made this controversial statement before last season. While the team made the playoffs, it was overshadowed by their quick exit after being swept by the Colorado Rockies. One year later, look who is on top of Major League Baseball.
Getting off to a better start many people believed is the reason for the Phillies change in play this season. Reaching the playoffs was the team’s first goal.
In the first round, the Phillies drew the wild card Milwaukee Brewers, who were fighting to make it in until the last game of the season. The Phillies were set to start off the postseason win going against Brewers recently acquired “ace” CC Sabathia.
The Phillies sent their “ace” Cole Hamels to the mound. The Phillies jumped right on the Brewers, and Cole Hamels did the rest, going eight-plus innings, leaving the game in Brad Lidge’s hands. This was the boost the Phillies needed; they took the next two games to complete the sweep over the Brewers.
In the next round, the Phillies had to face Manny Ramirez and his new team, the L.A. Dodgers. In the first two games the Phillies game out strong with big games from second basemen Chase Utley going 4-8 with two doubles but getting only one RBI. The team left Philadelphia with a two game lead to go to L.A., a place where the team has had no luck this season going 0-4 in the regular season.
In the first game the Dodgers jumped on Phillies veteran pitcher Jamie Moyer going only three innings giving up seven runs. In game four the Phillies went down by two runs in the eighth inning.
In the top of the inning, outfielder Jayson Werth led off with a single to right center. The next batter, Shane Victorino, stepped up and delivered for the Phillies hitting a home run that just cleared the right field fence tying the game up.
The next batter Carlos Ruiz drew a walk and stood on first when the Phillies called up pinch hitter Matt Stairs, a recently acquired infielder from the Toronto Blue Jays brought in for his bat.
The Phillies made the right decision with a 1-1 count Stairs hit a shot deep into the night of L.A. giving the Phillies the lead and ultimately the win. In Game Five, Hamels did what he does and pitched a win bring his record in the postseason to 3-0 with an ERA under 2.
In the World Series the Phillies faced the turn around team of the year, the Tampa Bay Rays. Tampa completed the exorcism; they dropped the devil in their name and made the World Series. After a 13-day lay off the Phillies sent Hamels out again and again he gave the Phillies a win in game one.
Most people believed that this was the most important game for the Phillies because they needed to take at least one game in Tampa Bay. In Game Two, Myers looked shaky in the beginning, later in the game he settled down but the offense was not able to do anything for him.
After leaving Tampa with the series tied the Phillies looked to the fans for help to boost the teams and shake the Rays confidence. In Game Three, the Phillies sent Moyer to the mound. Before this game country singer Tim McGraw spread the ashes of his father Tug McGraw, former Phillies closer who got the final strike out during the Phillies last and only World Series Championship.
This earned great praise from the fans and the Phillies. Moyer pitched six innings giving up only two runs. In game four the Phillies could not be stopped scoring 10 runs including home runs by the slumping Ryan Howard and pitcher Joe Blanton, this was the first home run by a pitcher in a World Series in 34 years.
In Game Five, the rain could not stop Cole Hamels, but it could stop the game. After the Rays tied the game up in the top of the officials decided to postpone the game. After a two-day period the Phillies started off the game strong with a pinch-hit double off the left field fence by Jeff Jenkins, followed by a single by Jayson Werth giving the Phillies the lead at 3-2.
In the next half an inning the Rays tied it up with a home run by Rocco Baldelli. In the bottom of the seventh Pat Burrell stepped up and hit a monster bomb to center field hitting off the wall leaving him with a double.
The Phillies then brought in pinch runner Eric Bruntlett. Later in the inning third basemen Pedro Feliz hit a single to right scoring Bruntlett, giving the Phillies the go ahead run at 4-3. This would be all the Phillies need bringing in Madson to set up for Lidge.
In the ninth inning, it was time for “Lights Out” Lidge, who had been 41-41 in save attempts in the regular season and 5-5 in the postseason. Again Lidge delivered striking out the side completing the save and giving the Phillies their first World Series Championship since 1980, only the second in team history.
The Phillies played their hearts out but so did the Rays. I would like to congratulate the Rays on a great season and better luck next year. For all the Phillies fans out there like me, all I can say that sums up how we are all feeling is Phinally!