THIRD NL TEAM WITH FOUR CONSECUTIVE PLAYOFF APPEARANCES
WASHINGTON — The Phillies made their mark in National League history Sunday, when they clinched a fourth consecutive playoff appearance (and their fourth consecutive NL East Divisional Title). As veterans the players and fans know this is one step closer to the ultimate goal. Make no mistake, this feeling will never get old in Philadelphia Nation!
Phillies are just the third team in NL history to make the playoffs four consecutive times. Philadelphia joined the Atlanta Braves, who made 14 consecutive appearances (1991-93, no postseason in 1994, 1995-2005), and the venerable New York Giants, who made four consecutive appearances (1921-1924). The Phillies will try to become the first NL team since the 1942-44 Cardinals to play in three consecutive World Series. Those Cardinals won it all in 1942 and 1944. They also won the Fall Classic in ’46 after finishing second in 1945.
Phillies history has been forever altered by this baseball Renaissance of the New Millennium. Not since the days of Carpenter family ownership(http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/phillies/20081020_Ruly_Carpenter.html) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._R._M._Carpenter,_Jr.html) with the homegrown talent of Mike Schmidt, Larry Bowa, Bob Boone & Greg Luzinski (NL East champs 1976-1978) has the city of Philadelphia and the baseball world seen so much of Phillies pinstripes. Even those divisional championships meant very little until the Phils finally made and won the World Series in 1980. They made it again in 1983.
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jk2EQL2t7g4) Mind you, this was a team that had won ONE World Series game (lost 1915 World Series 4-1 to Boston Red Sox; lost 1950 World Series 4-0 to NY Yankees) in their entire history!
The 1980 season was a magical one, ending 97 years of frustration and beating oddsmakers who picked upstart Montreal to make a run or the powerful defending champion Pittsburgh Pirates to repeat. By 1983, Carlton, Maddox, Rose and Schmidt may have been holdovers from the 1980 squad but even with help from Joe Morgan, John Denny, Al Holland and Gary Matthews, they fell to Baltimore in 5 games.
This run from 2007 to 2010 (and beyond?) is truly unequalled, featuring four division titles (2007 included erasing the Mets’ 7 game lead with 17 games to play), 2 World Series appearances (so far) and a championship in 2008. Never before has a Phillies team experienced this much success and more importantly, this may very well be the most talented collection of Phillies from among these 4 seasons.
Roy Halladay was on the mound at Nationals Park when the Phillies began their quest for a fourth straight National League East championship on April 5. Six months later, he was back on the mound in the same ballpark when the Phils wrapped up that title with an 8-0 victory over the Washington Nationals on Monday night. The win ensured that the Phils (94-63) will have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs (and World Series, thanks to the NL All-Star game victory), which begin next week. The Phils have won 18 of their last 21 road games. They are 46-17 since July 21.
Before tonight’s division-clinching game, Roy Halladay sat facing his locker with headphones in his ears, ignoring the jokes and laughter that surrounded him. The expressionless look and unflinching focus might as well be part of his uniform on the days he pitches. There is no variation in his demeanor, no subtle hint that this game might mean more (or less) than the last. When Halladay agreed to a trade that sent him to Philadelphia, it was with the expressed purpose of playing in his first postseason, and yet before taking the mound in a game that could turn that dream into reality, he wore the steely look of someone utterly unaware of the magnitude of the moment. Deep down, however, his manager suspected there was something more. Somewhere beneath the calm, cool exterior, there was a player who relished his opportunity.
“I know (this game) means a lot to him,” Manuel said from his perch atop the dugout bench before Monday’s 8-0 win over Washington that locked up the National League East title. “This guy’s really intense, and every time he goes out there it’s important to him. But tonight, I’m sure he feels that way. He probably won’t say anything about it, but I think he feels that way.” The Phillies needed one win to clinch their fourth straight division title and the best record in the N.L. Halladay wasn’t about to let the drama build for another day. It’s hard to call Monday a high point for a pitcher who threw a perfect game just four months earlier, but Halladay was nothing short of brilliant in mowing down the Nationals’ offense. Wilson Ramos’ single in the third inning prevented any buzz over another perfect outing for the Phillies’ ace, but Halladay pitched as if history was still on the line. For him, it was.
After 12 seasons in Toronto in which he had never come close to pitching a meaningful game this late in the season, Halladay seized the moment in Washington. Halladay and his teammates were all smiles when they cracked open the champagne to celebrate their accomplishment. One special moment was when veteran celebrants Ryan Howard and Shane Victorino insisted that Halladay, Mike Sweeney and Brian Schneider pop the first corks. Halladay, Sweeney & Schneider have played a combined 40 years in the big leagues (with 2,767 games played among them) but had never celebrated like they did Monday. Halladay (320 career starts), Sweeney (1,451 career games) and Schneider (970 games) have never played in the playoffs.
The postseason is a whole different animal because you can’t beat up on lesser teams, there is a base of scouting knowledge and teams must make adjustments from game to game. So the Phillies have the best record in baseball (94-63), the best record since the All-Star Break (46-17), the most productive offense in the month of September (20-5 record), the most dominant three starters and the most rabid fan base heading into the postseason. What do you think is going to happen?
Starting pitching report: Halladay allowed just two hits and walked none in notching the shutout. He struck out six. He is 21-10 with a 2.44 ERA. He is 14-1 with a 1.61 ERA in 15 starts against NL East opponents. As a contrast, Washington lefty John Lannan allowed four runs in 5 2/3 innings to fall to 0-8 lifetime against the Phillies.
At the plate: Jayson Werth drove in four of the Phillies’ runs with a booming solo homer (No. 26) to left in the second inning, a two-run double in the sixth, and an infield hit in the ninth. Chase Utley added a two-run double in the eighth.
Bullpen report: It wasn’t needed with Halladay notching his ninth complete game and fourth shutout, both major-league highs.
Rollins update: Jimmy Rollins’ scheduled return to the starting lineup was pushed back at least one night due to a wet field. Rollins has not started since Sept. 8 because of a strained right hamstring. He is expected to start on Tuesday night.
Important visit: Mike Sweeney and Shane Victorino will lead a contingent of Phillies players on a visit to Walter Reed Army Medical Center on Tuesday.
Up next: Roy Oswalt (13-13, 2.80) opposes Jason Marquis (2-9, 7.18) on Tuesday night. Oswalt is 7-1 with a 1.76 ERA in 11 starts with the Phillies.
Capitol Offense: 12,000 vociferous Phillies fans made their way to Nationals Ballpark in Washington, DC to root on their Phils. These 12,000 fans (who outnumbered Washington fans 10-1) made the 150 mile trip, sat through almost constant rainstorms and an 8-0 rout) all the while cheering and screaming as though it were a 1-0 nail-biter. At game’s end after a brief players celebration at the pitcher’s mound the players left the field. Washington Nationals management decided to turn the lights out on the baseball stadium as though trying to clear out loitering youths after a Stones concert!!! Hey, Nationals management – get a sense of baseball respect!
About the Author
Written by Christopher Rowe
Contributing writer Comcast Sports, NY Times contributing stringer 1996-2000, Contributing writer Yahoo Sports (2001 World Series). Contributing writer Newsday Long Island (1992-1994, Jets Training Camp) and Newak Star Ledger. Freelance Copywriter, Editor/Founder Atlantic Times Weekly (1993-2003) fantasy football magazine, produced screenwriter and general humorist. Hofstra University grad, Marist College honorary alum, Salesian; Purveyor of the Value and Valor of Philadelphia Eagles 1960 NFL Championship; Adrent believer that Eagles could have won Super Bowl XV...and Super Bowl XXXIX...plus modern decade of Eagles 5 NFC Championships... Believer in the Broad Street Bullies and the 1983 Sixers... Witness to Philadelphia Phillies World Series championships 1980 & 2008, Suffered Phillies first pro sports team to reach 10,000 losses,witnessed "1980 Cardiac Kids," 1983 "Wheeze Kids," 1993 "Macho Row" and many, many, many not-so-memorable seasons in-between... until the Philadelphia Baseball Renaissance of 21st Century, Five NL East division titles 2007-2011, 3 NLCS appearances 2008-2010, 2 consecutive World Series berths 2008 & 2009. 2008 World Champions of baseball [miss ya Harry and Richie]; "collector" of MLB ballparks (42 stadiums including 15 which are gone); Fantasy Football & Baseball player since 1992. Always a sports fan... Tenui Nec Dimittam Contact me email@example.com