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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Phillies Roll to World Series!!!!

The Philadelphia Phillies are in the World Series! Say it again Phillies fans – for the first time since 1993 the Philadelphia Phillies are in the World Series!

Jimmy Rollins got things started with a leadoff home run, and seven strong innings from Cole Hamels allowed the Phillies to never look back. Defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-1 tonight, the Phillies took the National League Championship Series, 4-1.

Rollins’ home run came in a rare 8-pitch at-bat for the shortstop. It was also a repeat performance of his leadoff home run in the series clinching win against Milwaukee. I believe there have been reports that no one has ever had two leadoff homers in series-clinching games in the same playoff year.

Hamels responded with a “shutdown” inning, with only a walk to Manny Ramirez. In other words, a perfect inning. Ramirez hit .520 in the playoffs, including 2 for 3 last night with a home run. I’m not sure he should have been pitched to at all, but he didn’t come up to bat with a single runner on base all night.

The Phillies bats knocked Chad Billingsley out of the game in the third inning for the second time in the series. After a walk to Rollins (followed by a steal with a great tag-avoiding slide) and Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Pat Burrell notched an RBI each. A walk to Shane Victorino that included a wild pitch ended the night for Billingsley. Chan Ho Park ended the Phillies threat of a huge inning, getting a Pedro Feliz 2-out ground out.

Again, Hamels followed runs by the Phils with an easy bottom of the inning.

In the fifth, the Phils got some help from Dodger shortstop Rafael Furcal. His 3, yes 3, errors led to two runs by the Phillies.

With first and second occupied by Dodgers and nobody out in the bottom of the inning, Hamels – selected MVP of the NLCS – again shut the door. He got a double-play ball from Blake DeWitt and struck out Matt Kemp.

A few nice catches – one by Pat Burrell in the sixth and one good, one great catch by Shane Victorino in the seventh – kept Hamels sailing along. Then after two consecutive walks, Charlie Manuel went to the mound and talked to his ace. For the second time in the playoffs, if memory serves, Manuel left his pitcher in after a mound visit and was rewarded with a huge out. This time, Hamels struck out Jeff Kent.

Burrell’s catch came just before Ramirez smacked a home run, keeping the game comfortable at 5-1. Hamels finished a stellar performance with 7.0 innings, 1 earned run, scattering 5 hits, and striking out 5.

Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge each pitched an inning of relief, and the Phillies were headed to the World Series.

You just can’t say it enough, can you?

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