Sometimes you can just tell a team has it in them to win a championship. We knew in 2008 that the Phillies team was going to win long before Brad Lidge struck out. I don’t remember exactly when it became clear the team had that special kind of magic every Champion does. Maybe it was when Matt Stairs hit “one into the night” off Jonathan Broxton. The 2017 Eagles had that same magical feeling. And I have to tell you, I am feeling that same kind of special magic right now with this Phillies team.
Not just because they just finished off a Braves team with over 100 wins that everybody said was far superior to the Phillies. But that certainly does help. It is the way they did it. That Rhys Hoskins bat spike after mashing a 3-run shot feels like the type of highlight they play in a recap of how a team made it to and won, the World Series. It wasn’t just an HR that busted game 3 wide open. The whole story leading up to that moment made it something special.
Rhys Hoskins had struggled mightily in the field. It was his mistake that ruined Wheeler’s brilliant outing in game 2 and gave up the eventual winning run. And the next day was full of fans and media ripping him. Rightfully so. Hoskins messed up a play any other first baseman would make every single time. But then when he got his chance to make up for it in game 3, he did so in a big way. Suddenly all was forgiven, Citizens Bank Park was the loudest it had been since the 2008-2011 era at that moment. The ballpark was electric. And the replay of that homerun and that bat spike was replayed who knows how many times in the past 24 hours.
Then game 4 happened. First Brandon Marsh bust it open with a 3-run shot to right field. In the next inning, JT Realmuto became the first-ever catcher to hit an inside-the-park HR in the postseason. Everything continued to go the Phillies’ way. Even Noah Syndergaard pitched well, and many fans thought he would be unusable in the p[ayoffs given his struggles in a Phillies uniform before then. A few innings later the Phillies put the game away with a 3-run inning with Raisel Iglesias on the mound. Before today, Iglesias had zero outings where he allowed 3 hits and a run. But that is exactly what the Phillies did to him today.
Bryce Harper tacked on 1 more run with his third homer of the postseason in the 8th, but they never needed it. The Phillies held the Braves to just 3 solo shots. Perhaps the best team in baseball over the last 3 months. And the Phillies sent them packing. SerAnthony Dominguez continued his brilliant postseason by sitting the heart of the Braves lineup down 1-2-3. And the team got to celebrate for the third time this year. Only now they did it at home.
Something is up with this Phillies team. They aren’t just winning, they are winning in a special kind of way. The kind of way that leads me to believe they aren’t finished just yet. They are heading back to the NLCS for the first time since 2010. We will find out who will be waiting for them either tonight or tomorrow. It will be either the Padres, who could have some magic of their own going or the Dodgers.
The road to a championship won’t be easy. No matter who they face the rest of the way, they won’t have home field advantage. But they haven’t needed that anyway. They swept the Cardinals in St Louis and beat the Braves in 4 despite starting on the road.
We probably would have been happy with this team merely ending the playoff drought. They did more than that. We would have been static if they just made it to the NLDS and lost a close series to the Braves. But again, they have done more than that. They are 8 wins away from a parade down Broad Street. And if this kind of magical vibe continues to carry over, you might want to start scoping out your spot for that parade. Because this team could do something special.