Phillies get to defend their crown
With 10-4 victory over L.A., Philadelphia returns to World Series
Thursday, October 22, 2009; 12:54 AM
PHILADELPHIA -- They didn't even pack their bags, the thought of an all-night cross-country flight representing a negative the Philadelphia Phillies didn't care to consider. Their trump card, their ace left-hander, was stashed in reserve, ready to be deployed if need be -- but they preferred to save him for the next series, the big one. So the Phillies played, managed and carried themselves Wednesday night as if they, and not the Los Angeles Dodgers, were the ones whose season was on the verge of expiring.
And at the end of a thorough, definitive 10-4 beat-down of the Dodgers at Citizens Bank Park in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series, the Phillies, resolute and resurgent, are back in a familiar spot -- champions of their league, conquerors of another humbled opponent, one entrant in next week's World Series.
"It's about to be bedlam in here," said a be-goggled Ryan Howard, the Phillies' first baseman and the series MVP, wading through a champagne-soaked home clubhouse. "Bedlam!"
Right fielder Jayson Werth hit two of the Phillies' four home runs at their bandbox of a stadium -- where they are now 11-1 in the postseason dating to last October -- and the Phillies' bullpen delivered 4 2/3 innings of sometimes exquisite, sometimes shaky, but always effective relief to help the Phillies become the first team since the 2000-01 New York Yankees to return to the World Series one year after winning it all.
"I wasn't thinking about doing anything special," Werth said on the field minutes after the final out was secured. "I just said, 'We're going to win.' Coming here today, walking down the ramp, entering the clubhouse -- the vibe was good. We've got a great team."
The Phillies will spend the next day or so healing nagging wounds, resting weary legs and waiting to see which American League city -- New York or Anaheim -- they will visit for Game 1 of the World Series on Oct. 28, with ace Cliff Lee on the mound.
"We've got one more step," Manager Charlie Manuel told a sellout crowd of 46,214 from a stage erected near second base, "and we're gonna get it."
The hardest thing about making it back to the World Series? According to shortstop Jimmy Rollins, whose two-run, game-winning double in the ninth inning of Game 4 was the series' biggest hit, it was just surviving the grind of the regular season.
"Just having to go through 162 games," he said, "and realizing there's another season after that -- it's tough."
Around the bottom of the second inning Wednesday, when the fourth home run in about half an hour left the yard, it was clear this was going to be one of THOSE nights at "The Bank." There was a touch of Indian summer in the air -- first-pitch temperature was a balmy 63 degrees -- and the ball, even without much wind in evidence, was flying out of one of baseball's most notorious homer havens.
The homers were coming every half-inning early on: solo shot by Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier in the top of the first, three-run jack by Werth in the bottom half. Solo blast by Dodgers first baseman James Loney in the top of the second, another solo job by Phillies third baseman Pedro Feliz a half-inning later.
Dodgers Manager Joe Torre managed like his life depended on it, bringing eighth-inning man George Sherrill into a bases-loaded jam in the fourth inning -- Sherrill hit the first batter he faced, Shane Victorino, to make it 6-2 before escaping -- then summoning 21-year-old wunderkind Clayton Kershaw, heretofore considered the Dodgers' Game 6 starter, in the fifth.