The Phightin’ Pheels

As local TV color man Gary Matthews, aka “Sarge,” pronounces the team nickname.  Anyway, I’ve put off writing about the Phillies all summer because, well, the baseball season is long, and, aside from a couple of hiccups along the way, they pretty much lived up to all the pre-season hype, cruising to 102 wins and clinching their fifth straight NL East title with two weeks to spare.

In other words, barring the loss of Halladay or Lee’s pitching arm(s), making the playoffs was a foregone conclusion, and the 162-game regular season basically a formality (at times it actually seemed that way; they went something like two months without losing more than two games in a row).

So now here they are, two games into the NLDS, and they’re tied 1-1 with the Cardinals.  After Cliff Lee blew a 4-0 lead on Sunday and with Jaime Garcia, who looks like he’s pitching to a high school team when he goes against the Phillies, awaiting them in Game 3, things aren’t looking quite so foregone anymore.  “Hollywood” Hamels is going to have to pitch his ass off, and the regulars are going to have to figure out how to hit Garcia’s 89 mph “fastball” and his even-slower offspeed stuff, if they’re going to win this game.

Not that they’re necessarily dead if they lose today; they’d only have to beat Edwin Jackson to get the series back to Philly for Game 5, and with Halladay on the mound again, I’d say their chances are pretty good, even against Carpenter.  Still, I’d prefer not to have to test this scenario out.