NLCS: How the Phillies Decided to Travel Home Early
It wasn’t the end of the world in Philadelphia, of course. It was just the first time in a quarter-century that the Phillies had lost a baseball game and not traveled home. In fact, the Phillies wound up winning, 4-2, on Wednesday night at Citizens Bank Park as the NLCS advanced to their second straight World Series.
Still, it was an important moment for the Phillies, who had managed just three wins, two more than the Mets, when Michael Martinez got on base in the third inning. After the Phillies added three runs in the fourth, they had to rely on a rally in the sixth and seventh innings to overcome the Mets’ 6-3 victory.
It was also an important moment for the Phillies – albeit a small one compared to the big picture. The Phillies wound up going 9-0 on the road in the regular season, which set a franchise record. So they were going to have to make a stand here – and they did.
As we mentioned in our post on the season opener, the Phillies had an opportunity to play spoiler by winning earlier in the season, but they wound up losing the season opener with a 10-0 shutout against the Braves on opening night. A year later, they won the opener, but the story was much simpler – the Phillies had finished the regular season at 73-65 and were in second place in the NL East.
The Phillies won the series opener in a blowout (again) in Atlanta by a 10-0 score, as Chris Coste had a two-run triple in the fourth inning.
The Phillies were on the verge of a second straight season-opening sweep with the Mets coming to town for three games, but this time the Phillies were on the winning side of a 10-0 lead in the first game and a 5-3 win in the two games in New York.
Despite the huge lead they were on, the Phillies were not going to go out quietly in the first two games of the NLCS. The Phillies were going to be one of the top pitchers in the playoffs (maybe the top pitcher in the league, depending how close the division race was at the time). And they knew that as well.
The Phillies had their ace, Cole Hamels, on the mound for both games in Philadelphia. Hamels had pitched in all but two games in the regular season, and he was