Phillies Slug Their Way Into The Spotlight, And The Party Continues
At 5:25 P.M., Seranthony Domínguez fired a nearly unhittable 100 MPH sinker knee-high to Travis d’Arnaud for the final pitch of the 2022 NLDS. It was not the end of the celebration; in fact, it was just beginning. Virtually none of the 45,660 fans that packed Citizens Bank Park Saturday to witness the Phillies advance to the National League Championship Series with a joyous 8-3 blowout over the defending champion Atlanta Braves, left until they had to. They stayed to see the Phillies dance around the home pitcher’s mound at the end of a series for the first time since the 2009 NLCS. They stayed for all of the interviews. The curtain calls. To belt out their new anthem, the Tiësto Remix/Audio of Calum Scott’s cover of Robyn’s Dancing On My Own, and anything else that came to mind.
The Phillies waited so long for moments like this. And it would be foolish for them and their fans not to maximize the joy of them. That can only happen as long as the Phillies continue to win, which they have done in five of their six postseason games. In the blink of an eye, they turned a tight series into a laugher, beating up on the Braves to the tune of a +13 run differential in Games 3 and 4, outscoring the NL’s third-best offense and fifth-best pitching staff by a 17-3 margin. It never felt like the Braves, who won 101 games in the regular season, had a chance once they entered Philadelphia.
This truly is the Phillies time. After years of not getting the timing right, everything has come together in near-perfect fashion. The meat of the order — Rhys Hoskins, J.T. Realmuto, and Bryce Harper, blasted three home runs and sprinted their way to another in the first two postseason games in Philadelphia in 11 years. Behind them, Bryson Stott and Jean Segura, the kid and the active player who waited the longest for this, made plays. Brandon Marsh launched a three-run moonshot in the second to give the Phillies a lead they would not lose. Their aces were aces. Virtually every pitcher used performed to the best of their abilities, and every last one of them was needed in Games 1 and 4. The defense stabilized after some rough sequences.
And the capacity crowd lost their collective minds after every single moment. Before the last two weeks, a generation of Phillies fans had either not been alive or too young to truly remember the significance of what postseason baseball looks, sounds, and feels like in the City of Brotherly Love. For a long time, it required so much effort to find joy and hope in Phillies baseball. The team had a propensity for either being unwatchable or losing in gut-wrenching fashion. They lost a lot of games and even more goodwill.
This weekend, though, the Phillies brought the party to center stage. They proclaimed their resurgence in thunderous, elated fashion. Predicting the Phillies to win this series would not have been outlandish. The Braves had health concerns in their rotation — and that was long before a comebacker from Alec Bohm unfortunately hit the elbow of Charlie Morton, who even more unfortunately tore his hamstring in his second game as a Phillie in 2016 and then left to become a two-time All-Star and World Series champion, to put everything in motion. The Phillies were feeling fresh after a Wild Card Series sweep of the Cardinals, another dark part of their past.
If just a couple of guys could get going, it certainly felt doable. But not like this. Ever since the Phillies started playing better baseball under Rob Thomson, the Phillies always had a chance to create some chaos in October. But they were never supposed to be anything close to favorites. They had too many flaws. Too little experience. Too little of whatever it takes to win in the postseason that you just can’t learn until you get there. Now, the Phillies are seemingly doing whatever they please. They’ve won because they’ve strung together clutch two-out hits. They’ve won because they’ve launched baseballs just like they were meant to in April, which seems like a lifetime ago. Their starting pitching has carried them. Their bullpen carried them through Saturday’s clincher. They put pressure on opposing defenses with their speed and aggressiveness.
The Phillies have won games this postseason basically every way you can, a hallmark of a team that is dangerous at this time of year. Everybody knows it. That is why over 90,000 fans flocked to the Bank the last two days to see it for their themselves. It is why national opinions are starting to shift. It is why a sneaky, nostalgic, veteran underdog St. Louis team and the sport’s third-best team in the regular season in Atlanta are no longer in the postseason.
Why the Phillies still are.
Even as the party made its way to the home clubhouse, the fans still lingered around the ballpark. Every single moment is worth soaking in right now. Everyone here knows that these moments cannot be taken for granted. But that is why they are so meaningful. Well worth a 4,000-plus day wait. It is one thing to be told at the start of a season about how a team is new. Different. Better. Fans have heard those words countless times in the past few years and have been put through the wringer trying to figure out what they actually looked like.
So, they understand that it is quite another to watch them unfold. Now, they are realizing just how special all of this is. The Phillies are writing a beautiful script this Red October, flipping a decade’s worth of cruel summers on their head. They will be one of the final four teams left standing. They, and everyone who watched one of the greatest 25-hour spans in Philadelphia Phillies history, do not doubt that their journey will go further. Given everything they’ve already accomplished, good luck finding anyone that would blame them.
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The Phillies aren’t better than the Braves. This is yet another example of why the playoffs make a farce of the season. They finished 14 games behind the Braves, and win 5 games to magically go ahead of them. They won a series 3-1. So what? What about the 14 game deficit? Since the playoffs, they have gained only 3 games on them. They are still 11 games out. If you don’t honor the season, you don’t honor the game. Nothing but a sham.
So, a team that finished third, 14 games behind two teams, and a team that finished 22 games out are playing for the pennant? Come on. If the best team from each league do not play in the World Series, then what is the point? Everyone knows the Phillies and Padres are not the best teams in the NL but they will let one of them represent their league in the World Series? Why the charade?