Philadelphia Phillies Chan Ho Park tries to open a bottle of champagne in the team locker room after winning Game 5 of the NLCS over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday.AP PHOTO
PHILADELPHIA – By now, it’s becoming apparent.
There’s an innate quality about the Philadelphia Phillies that allows them to hit high gear at the most critical moments.
In other words, they turn it up at playoff time.
“You could definitely sense these guys take it to another level,” said Cliff Lee, a newcomer who’s become the ace of the pitching staff.
And the Phillies who aren’t taking it to another level are taking the ball out of the park.
Outfielder Jayson Werth shrugged off his paltry .071 NLCS batting average Wednesday to blast two homers that accounted for four runs as the Phillies clinched their second consecutive National League pennant with a 10-4 lashing of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
And for good measure, Phillies third baseman Pedro Feliz slashed an opposite field solo shot to right field, despite carrying a .077 batting average for the series into the game.
That’s three homers and half the team’s RBI provided by two guys who weren’t even hitting .100.
Imagine the damage the rest of the Phillies lineup can do.
Well, the Dodgers didn’t have to envision it. They saw it first-hand.
Outfielder Shane Victorino, a .292 hitter on the year, batted .368 with two homers and five RBI against the Dodgers. Catcher Carlos Ruiz – “The Dodger killer” current Los Angeles pitcher and former Phillie Randy Wolf dubbed him – batted .357 in the NLCS and is at .333 in the postseason after hitting .255 in the regular season.
And slugging Ryan Howard, the cleanup man who cleaned out the Dodgers while earning the NLCS MVP with two homers, eight RBI and a .333 batting average over five games, is proving he’s even more clutch in the playoffs than he was during a 45-homer, 141-RBI season.
“The playoffs are a whole different animal,” Howard said. “I mean, you’re one of eight teams that are left, and you’re going for the gold. You just know that in order to get to where you want to be, you’ve got to step your game up.”
They’ve stepped over everyone else in the playoffs over the past two years, losing just once in 12 home games at Citizens Bank Park along the way.
Last year, the Phillies took care of the Milwaukee Brewers in four games before wrapping up both the National League Championship Series against the Dodgers and World Series against Tampa Bay in five games.
This year, the Phillies carved up Colorado in four games in the first playoff round and again dismissed the Dodgers in five in the NLCS.
“It takes all the talent in the world and it takes the right type of guys,” Phillies closer Brad Lidge said.
And the ability to rise to the occasion.
“I think it’s just the presence that they have,” Dodgers manager Joe Torre said of the Phillies, “just the experience of what they went through last year and the confidence they garner from that.”