The first step of the Phillies run in 2011 is over. After last night’s win that sealed the Phillies 5th consecutive N.L. East crown, the team handled their celebration the way that the they have handled their business on the field.
There were a few antics, but for the most part it was pretty subdued. The newbies soaked it in (literally) and the veterans made it clear that this is not the time to celebrate.
”The true test starts in October’” said Ryan Howard. ”We won’t do the real celebration until we can reach our team goal. This is just step one.”
“I expected to win the division,” Cliff Lee said following the celebration on the field. “I expect us to win the World Series. But nothing is going to be handed to us. We’ve got to go out there and play the way we’ve played all year and play fundamental baseball. If we continue to do that, good things will happen.”
Lee as we all know has been very close to a ring the last two seasons, so you can understand his candor.
But still, they had some fun.
“They were waiting for me and they blew me up,” Hunter Pence said after a full on champagne assault from his teammates. ”I’ve waited a long time to be a part of one of these. I dreamed of it. It’s what you play the game for. When you work out during the offseason, this is the reason why,” Pence said. “You’re thinking about getting to the playoffs and taking the next step and then another and winning the World Series. It’s definitely worth all the effort and all the sacrifice.”
Don’t expect the Phillies to take it easy tonight. Cole Hamels has every intention of going deep into the game tonight and winning, and the rest of the Phillies starters have the same plan going into these last 12 games.
For the Phillies to be successful in the playoffs the starters are going to need to go deep into the games to avoid the holes in the bullpen, and the offense is going to have to come together. There have been plenty of hero in the past few weeks, but a team effort is what its going to propel them to glory.
The starters will all continue to work and keep their pitch counts up. Roy Halladay has said on more than one occasion that he plans to keep pushing for 120 pitches until the end. I suspect that Vance Worley is going to get worked into the bullpen at some point. He will be a great option of the Phillies out of the pen, but he needs to become acclimated to his temporary role. I think that Roy Oswalt’s performance on Saturday night ended all argument that he should be the Phillies 4th starter.
The regulars, especially the bruised ones (Howard, Utley, Rollins, and Polanco) will get their work in sparingly, and then probably play out the last few games to stay in sync. I’m very OK with this.
I’m curious what the Phillies will do with their bench. John Bowker will get a few more looks, but I can’t see a guy without a hit as a Phillie making the postseason roster. I think I would take Dom Brown over that any day of the week.
We have a few days, er… Two weeks really to stew this all over. Hope you’re all soaking it in.