Sam Donnellon: You bet Phillies can win another world title

Shane Victorino is hit by pitch in fourth inning of Game 5 clincher.
Shane Victorino is hit by pitch in fourth inning of Game 5 clincher.
Posted: October 22, 2009

"EVERYBODY KNOWS about the Yankees and Boston and all their great players," Jimmy Rollins was saying as champagne dripped down his face after last night's pennant-clinching 10-4 victory over the Dodgers. "Obviously, we want that here. Not just to be remembered as the first team to lose 10,000 games, but to be able to say I was able to play with the best of their time.

"That's the only way you can be remembered for being great."

Well, here's something to consider while you wait for the latest edition of the Yankees to polish off the Angels.

When they go to bed at night, the Yankees dream about hitting like the 2009 Phillies.

No, seriously.

You want a few reasons your team can beat what Shane Victorino accidentally called "the best team in baseball" the other day?

Here are four: Jayson Werth, Raul Ibanez, Pedro Feliz, Carlos Ruiz.

You want three more?

Rollins, Victorino, Ryan Howard.

Who knows, maybe Chase Utley will come out of his shell in the World Series as well.

You hear it so often because it is so often true: It's a different star every night with this team. It's been that way since the start of the 2008 postseason. The Phillies have won 18 of 23 games since then, and the ingredients have rarely been the same.

Often lost in last year's pitcher-driven championship run was how poorly the Phillies hit with runners in scoring position. They were 1-for-28 in the split in Tampa, couldn't put the Rays away in that late-night Saturday night Game 3, won when Carlos Ruiz tapped a bases-loaded ball just far enough to knock in the winning run.

And while the Phillies sure had their RISP troubles during the regular season, especially late, this postseason has been much more like the way you thought last year would look.

It's not just a chant anymore. This postseason, everyone hits.

"They're a little more relaxed, I think," hitting coach Milt Thompson said amid the clubhouse celebration last night.

"We've got two MVPs and a potential MVP," Victorino had said during the off day Tuesday. "We've got all-stars on this team. But it's like there are no superstars here. We're all committed to doing anything we can to win."

Victorino, his eyes a bucket of water from a bad cold, took an inside pitch off his shoulder with bases loaded in the fourth inning to drive in the Phillies' sixth run. He blasted a two-run homer to leftfield in the sixth inning, just missed another when he doubled to right in the eighth.

This is not to underestimate the imposing presence of Howard, the 2009 NLCS MVP, or his unprecedented patience this postseason. But six of the Phillies' 10 home runs in this series came off the bats behind him. On a night when seven balls went over the wall, Howard walked for the fifth and sixth times in the NLCS.

He now has 25 total bases this postseason. He has driven in 14 runs overall in the postseason, and scored eight runs.

Alex Rodriguez is having that kind of postseason for the Yankees as well. But until Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, the Yankees were 3-for-26 with runners in scoring position.

He and Derek Jeter were pretty much the offense.

Even after its 10-run outburst in Game 4, New York's RISP numbers stood at 7-for-45 in the series.

Really, the Yankees resemble the Phillies of a year ago right now. They're winning with an ace, CC Sabathia, some good starters behind him, and a very role-oriented and dependable bullpen. They're winning with some ridiculously clutch home runs too from Rodriguez and the usual postseason performance of Jeter.

But the Phillies have done what we thought the Yankees would have done at this point. They have scored 55 runs in nine games this postseason, more runs than any other team. They lead every team this postseason in hits, extra-base hits and perhaps the most key stat of all, walks.

They added four more walks last night, giving them 42 this postseason.

Included in this total were back-to-back walks to Utley and Howard that preceded Werth's three-run, first-inning home run - his first of two homers.

The Phillies entered Game 5 with a .423 average with runners in scoring position during this LCS. Werth, Ibanez and Feliz were a combined 4-for-41 in those first four games.

They had four hits in their first six at-bats last night, drove in five of the Phillies' first six runs.

Before his three-run, first-inning homer last night, Werth was 1-for-14 in this series, the only other hit a two-run homer in Game 3. He had struck out the first two times he faced Vicente Padilla in Game 2 of this series, the Dodgers' only win, the only time the Phillies' offense was impotent. He hit into a doubleplay the third time he faced him.

Before this series began, Dodgers manager Joe Torre said his team was better equipped to play the Phillies because of a deep bench, better bullpen and starters he thought he could depend on.

"We gave them a fight," Torre said. "They just wouldn't back down. Certainly, they're a better team now. I think just the experience they went through, the confidence that came from that, and the presence they had through all their ups and downs this season."

There are only ups this postseason. The Phillies have their act together at just the right time.

And they're probably headed for Broadway. Well, OK, the Bronx.

Same thing.

Send e-mail to

donnels@phillynews.com.

For recent columns, go to

http://go.philly.com/donnellon.

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