Game 1 of the 2011 NLDS provided Philadelphia Phillies fans the reassurance that their recent offensive worries are in fact a thing of the past.
But it sure didn't seem so at the onset, did it?
The St. Louis Cardinals not only enjoyed a three-run jump start to the contest, but also took pleasure in starting pitcher Kyle Lohse’s stellar start, which seemingly had the Phillies pinned down from the get go.
With pin-point location and quality command, Lohse seemed to have the Phillies' number just like he last time he faced the Philadelphia—in Citizen’s Bank Park mind you—when he went seven-plus, giving up seven hits and striking out five on September 19th.
It was during that time of the month, however, that the Phillies were dealing with an unexpected offensive slump upon clinching the division.
The Phillies bats went silent, the win column hadn't changed since that clinch, and many fans spent most of September worrying about the offense which seemingly gone south without warning.
That all changed in Game 1 of the 2011 NLDS.
The Phillies literally exploded thanks to Ryan Howard’s methodical eight-pitch at-bat that warranted a three-run home run putting Philadelphia on top 4-3.
Raul Ibanez followed Howard’s accord with his own two-run homer two batters later, and just like that the Phillies were on top 6-3.
But it wasn't just the power explosion that proved the Philadelphia's offensive worries are a thing of the past.
Chase Utley, Shane Victorino and Jimmy Rollins strategically sprayed the ball all over the field, exploiting the right field gap while utilizing their ability to pull the ball at various times of the game.
In other words, the small-ball approach that the Phillies are also famed for had returned against a difficult pitcher to hit-and-run, against.
The Phillies chased Kyle Lohse, kept up the offensive pressure by beating up Mitchell Boggs, and otherwise took advantage of every pitch that came their way.
Finally, the offense had returned.
What is to be understood here is what makes the Phillies tick.
Philadelphia’s offense is a well-oiled machine, true, but when one aspect of that offense breaks down, the other pieces eventually start to degrade as well—precisely what happened after clinching the NL East.
The Phillies play hit-and-run and utilize small-ball practices while deploying precise power in a crippling manner—the complete build to a very threatening offense—and it was this complete puzzle the Cardinals just could not solve.
Rather than the desperate “deer in the headlights” look of theirs towards the end of the season, Philadelphia approached the plate with a discerning eye and patient swing, displaying that concentrated swagger at the plate.
And if all of this isn’t enough, they faced a pitcher who beat them up pretty good the last time and overcame what may have been first inning jitters.
They settled the house, got back to the basics and put the regular season behind them, which is precisely what a championship team does.
They started slow, evenly cooked through nine spreading the ball around consistently and thoroughly when it mattered most, and ended hot, which is something a team with a offensive worry does not do.
After Saturday night, I think it does suffice to say the Phillies offensive worries are in fact a thing of the past.
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