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Sunday, October 5, 2008

Phillies Headed to NLCS!

Jimmy Rollins belted a lead-off home run, leaving the Phillies offensive struggles behind and setting the tone for a series clinching victory against Milwaukee. Pat Burrell’s 3-run blast in the third, followed by a Jason Werth home run, put the eventual 6-2 win on cruise control. The win put the Phillies in the National League Championship Series for the first time since 1993, where they'll face the Los Angeles Dodgers beginning Thursday night.

Just before the back-to-back home runs, Phils fans were reminded of the struggles the team experienced at the plate for most of the series. With Shane Victorino on second, Chase Utley grounded out for the second out of the inning. Ryan Howard was intentionally walked. One leads to the other. If Utley’s hitting, it’s a lot harder to walk Howard.

Joe Blanton turned in an outstanding performance on the mound. He went into the seventh inning, giving up just one run on a Prince Fielder home run. He had a high pitch count, and Charlie Manuel pulled him quickly after a base hit following the homer. Ryan Madson was solid, letting just the one run in. Howard contributed a very solid defensive play on a sharp grounder, and the “shift” finally paid off against somebody besides Howard as Fielder lined out to short right to kill a potential first and third.

Burrell tacked on a second home run in the 8th, and Brad Lidge made things easy in the 9th.

I’m sure we all thank the Phillies for allowing us to ignore (well, sort of) the Eagles seemingly annual choke game.

Player of the Week

I started doing this for the Eagles, but they stunk it up this week. Besides, the “Flyin’ Hawaiian” Shane Victorino deserves it, carrying the Phillies offense through the NLDS. Just 1-for-4 today, he did score a run on Burrell’s blast. More importantly, he batted .357 for the series with 5 hits, 2 doubles, 5 RBI, and a grand slam in Game 2 that gave the Phillies a 2-0 strangle hold on the series.

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