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Phillies on the verge of something special

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The Phillies postseason run in 2009 has been anything but predictable. In the Division Series, they beat a heretofore dominant Houston Street not once, but twice in back to back games. The latter in spectacular fashion with a two-out, three run rally in the 9th inning. And with Ryan “get me to the plate” Howard picking up this team and placing it on his back, the Philadelphia Phillies are seriously charging towards something special.

In the NLCS, the Phillies have again proven just how determined they are as a TEAM. In Game 1, they knocked around the Dodgers' George Sherrill who served up his first home run to a left handed hitter all year to Raul Ibanez. They then lose a tough but close game on a error and a bases loaded walk. That is the kind of end to a game that crushes a teams morale and swings the momentum wildly in the other teams’ favor. The only problem with that is that the Dodgers had to play the Phillies and they hung a 11-0 thrashing on them. The Dodgers didn’t get a man past second and couldn’t solve Cliff Lee as he has been masterful this postseason.

Last night, Ryan Howard once again showed the world that he is going to take this team somewhere that the NL hasn’t been in a long time. As the ball that Howard crushed landed in the seats, everyone found out he had tied the immortal Lou Gehrig’s record for consecutive playoff games with at least one RBI. He is also getting close to shattering the postseason record for RBIs altogether. Later in the game, it looked again like a fielding error was going to doom the Phillies for another loss in this series. They battled in the 8th and forced Dodgers’ skipper Joe Torre’s hand to bring in closer Jonathan Broxton for a extended save out of the pen. In the top of the 9th as the temperature dropped, Brad Lidge raised his game and again flashed signs that he was back to last year’s form. Lidge didn’t allow a man to score and kept the game close. And once again the Phils would prove that you have to record all 27 of those outs before you declare a team the winner (I’m talking to you MLB ). A now cold Broxton had to go back out and face the bottom of the lineup. He got Ibanez to ground out to second, and was then greeted by his old nemesis, Mr. Matt Stairs. You could quickly see that he had no intention of actually throwing a strike to Stairs and sure enough, he proceeded to walk him. Broxton then does the unthinkable: hitting Carlos Ruiz in the elbow and putting the winning run on base. Next up was Greg Dobbs, who flared a ball over third for the second out of the inning.

With the Phillies hopes for victory now appearing slim to none, up walked Jimmy Rollins.

While nobody would confuse Jimmy for Mr. October in the playoffs, when it matters the most in the 9th inning, J-Roll has gone 4 for 6 against two very formidable pitchers in Street and Broxton. What happened next was nothing short of a miracle. For the third time in the history of the game, a team won with a two-out extra bases hit to win a game. As Jimmy made contact with Broxton ‘s pitch and it sailed into the gap, anyone and everyone watching started to realize they were witnessing something great. The runners were off on the pitch. Ruiz ran faster than he did when he mobbed Brad Lidge after the Eric Hinske strikeout. As he slid across the plate – the Phillies won a incredibly improbable game for the ages, and also put the Dodgers on life support.

They can now close this series out on Wednesday and would then await the winner of the Yankees vs. Angels series. With the way this team is playing, we might just be witnessing the birth of the little red machine as it marches towards what could be this team’s destiny and a very special place in baseball lore as not a one win National League team, but an honest-to-goodness, dare I say…dynasty. I sit here in amazement when I think that for the second year in a row, this team has captivated the region and has just about officially stolen the heart of the city from the Eagles. You don’t see people in green anymore, you only see red. People barely grumbled about a pathetic loss to a perennial last place team in the Raiders. But that happens when you have a team as special as the Philadelphia Phillies. As the team keeps winning, the more they become THE place that free-agents want to land.

When did anyone think that would ever happen?

thumbnail: (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)