Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Phils Power Themselves Back to the World Series

The last time an NL team got to their second consecutive World Series, Tom Glavine was leading the way as the Atlanta Braves destroyed the St. Louis Cardinals pitching staff in a 15-0 rout. One of those Cardinals pitchers: L.A. Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt. Tonight his pitching staff followed suit, giving up four home runs in a 10-4 win for the Phillies, which advances them to the World Series for the second consecutive year.

The Phillies countered with their own homegrown left-hander, Cole Hamels. Hamels didn't give quite the performance Glavine gave; Hamels went 4 1/3 innings and allowed 3 solo home runs to Andre Ethier, James Loney, and Orlando Hudson. But Hamels was supported early on by a three-run home run in the first by Jayson Werth, and a solo shot in the second from Pedro Feliz. Shane Victorino added a two-run home run in the sixth and Werth added another solo home run in the seventh.

Hamels didn't give quite the performance one would have hoped for. He hasn't returned to the dominant form he assumed in the playoffs last year, but he did show flashes of dominance, retiring eight straight batters at one point. After the Hudson home run and Rafael Furcal hitting a subsequent double, Charlie Manuel began to go through his bullpen, looking to ensure that the game would be won tonight. Hamels was followed by J.A. Happ, Chad Durbin, Chan Ho Park. In the last two innings, there was a refreshing flashback to last year, with Ryan Madson getting out of a bases loaded jam in the eighth and Brad Lidge having a 1-2-3 ninth inning. The entire offense continued to be productive. The only player in the starting eight not to score a run was Carlos Ruiz, who despite posting monster numbers in the playoffs, is still the number eight hitter.

Much like last year, the Phillies' powerful offense and solid late-inning pitchers have brought them to the World Series.

Now it remains to be seen who they'll be facing. Tomorrow, the Yankees will look to pull off the same feat as the Phils, winning the Championship Series in 5 games. Aside from the 10-1 rout of the Angels on Tuesday, the series has been fairly close, with the Angels being unable to over-power the Yankees. The Angels' one win in the series was in extra innings at home. My guess is that the Yankees will win the series in six games, it all depends on which A.J. Burnett shows up at the ballpark.

But whoever it is, they will be facing the defending champions as they defend their championship.

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