Beast of the East: Phillies NL East Champs for Fourth Straight Season
AP Photo/Evan Vucci
On April 5th, Roy Halladay allowed a first inning run to the Nationals. And that was all. From that day on, we knew just what Doc was capable of every time he took the mound. That was the start of this magical journey, an Opening Day demolition of the Nationals, 11-1. From there the season had its highs; including a perfect game and eight walk-off wins, and its lows; a severe hitting slump, to many injuries to count, and a seven-game deficit in the division. Yet, after all the struggles, all the disappointment, and all the questioning, the Phillies are the champions of the NL East.
Right from the get-go, Doc was dealing his best, and the Phillies went to work on some run support. It started in the second, as Jayson Werth led off the inning with a solo shot, his 26th. That may have been enough for Doc, but it didn’t stop the Phillies. In the sixth, Jayson Werth continued his hot streak, plating two more runs with an RBI double. He scored on a double by Carlos Ruiz, capping a three-run inning. Even in the ninth, with Doc destined to finish the Nats himself, the Phillies weren’t satisfied. Placido Polanco added one with an RBI single. Chase Utley plated two more with an RBI double, and Jayson Werth added to his RBI total for the night, capping a four-run frame with an RBI infield single. Doc needed just 97 pitches, and allowed just two hits facing one over the minimum during his 21st win of the season. The Phillies, behind a dominant Doc, finished off the division and their 94th win of 2010, beating the Nationals 8-0.
Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images
In case you didn’t notice, Roy Halladay was a man on a mission tonight. Someone handed him a baseball, and told him with a win his team was in the playoffs as the NL East Champions. And he did the rest. In a performance that was so masterful; his only one that challenges his perfect game; he might as well have been perfect. Meanwhile, Doc appreciated the run support behind him. With the Phillies playing a game as sound as their first this season, the champagne corks popped for the fourth straight season. It was a fitting welcome to the postseason for Roy Halladay, but so many more who didn’t step on the field tonight felt the sweetness of this one as well. It was sweet for the whole team, but so much more important for Mike Sweeney, Roy Oswalt, Placido Polanco, Brian Schneider, and Wilson Valdez. They are all new to the Phillies this season, some of them new to postseason play, and they all deserve to be right where they were. The entire team, though, deserves it, for having a never-give-up attitude, for being team players on a team with so much individual talent, and for always staying focused on the big picture, the next step, the ultimate goal. It’s just the start of another Red October in Philadelphia, that all started on September 27, 2010; a date that has special meaning for the Phillies for another reason. Like September 27, 2008, when the Phillies clinched the division two years ago, on their way to a World Series run. We don’t know where this season is going now that October is definitely in the Phillies’ future, but for this group of Phillies, playing in the current era of Phillies’ baseball, they seal their fate as one of the greatest eras of Phillies’ baseball, a true dynasty in the National League, and definitely are the beasts of the east in the National League.
The NL East Champion Phillies return tomorrow to face the Nationals once again. Roy Oswalt (13-13, 2.80 ERA) starts for the Phillies against Jason Marquis (2-9, 7.18 ERA).