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Phillies Repeat as NL East Champs: First Thoughts

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Shortstop Jimmy Rollins’ sudden, dramatic, sliding stop of Ryan Zimmerman’s 1 out, bases loaded grounder in the hole was not the kind of clinching finish which I envisioned, but, man, we’ll take it anyway.  Heaven knows how many bad bounces and fielding miscues have sunk the  Phillies in crucial situations through the years.  And who can forget their 1964 collapse?

The Mets had shut out Florida in their Saturday game by a 2-0 score, thanks an awesome complete game effort by their ace Johan Santana.  The Phils magic number stood at 1 after their 8-4 Friday win over the Nationals.

After seeing the Phils go ut to an early 2-0 lead and take a 3-1 on rightfielder Jayson Werth’s fifth inning lead-off homer, centerfielder  Lastings Milledge’s eighth inning sacrifice fly to shallow centerfield was caught on a running catch by Rollins as he collided with centerfielder  Shane Victorino with shortstop Cristian Guzman scoring from 3rd base on the play.  Victorino singled with 2 out in the Phillies’ eighth and scored on 3rd baseman Pedro Feliz’s double to give the Phils a 4-2 lead.

In came dominant closer Brad Lidge to sew up the game and I expected a replay of  Brett Myers’ closing ninth inning last season against the Nationals — 15 pitches, 11 strikes; 2 strikeouts with a fly out to leftfield sandwiched in-between.

Instead, we saw Lidge strike out pinch hitter Emilio Bonaficio on 5 pitches after falling behind in the count 2-0.  Leftfielder Roger Bernadina laced Lidge’s 0-1 pitch to rightfield for a single.  Pinch hitter Ryan Langerhans then worked a full count before Lidge walked him.  Recent call-up 2nd baseman Anderson Hernandez then stroked Lidge’s 1-1 pitch to right centerfield scoring Bernadina with Washington’s 3rd run.  Guzman followed with a single to centerfield on a 2-2 pitch to load bases.

It appeared that Lidge was about to blow a save, and perhaps the game in what was the most crucial situation of the season.  But with the count 1-1, Rollins made a super play to stop Zimmerman’s grounder in the hole for the game-ending, title-clinching doubleplay on Lidge’s 24th pitch of the inning.

              Moyer Repeats Clutch Performance Parallels Last Season

Last season, Moyer went 5 1/3 innings in the title-clinching game on the last day of the season giving 1 run on 5 hits while walking none and striking out 5 on 97 pitches.   This season’s clincher saw Moyer go 6 innings giving up 1 run on 6 hits while walking 1 and striking out 1 on 86 pitches.  As I’ve written the most recent previous posts, Jamie Moyer, with his 16-7 record and 3.78 ERA, deserves serious consideration for the Cy Young Award.

And so, now we wait to see how Sunday’s games between the Mets and Marlins, and Cubs and Brewers play out to see who gets the Wild Card spot and who plays who in the NL divisional playoffs with the Phils, the Cubs and the Dodgers having clinched.

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