Three years ago, the Philadelphia Phillies ripped our hearts out. For the second year in a row, they bested us in five games in the National League Championship Series. You remember right? Of course you do. How could any of us forget. It was gut wrenching. Two years in a row, the Dodgers reached the postseason in the same way. They won the NL west division in both seasons. The second year in 2009, the Dodgers staved off a last minute run by Colorado en route to 95 wins and the best record in the NL.
In both years the Dodgers were heavy underdogs, and in both seasons the Dodgers improbably swept their NL Division Series opponents in three games. The first year it was the Cubs, and the second year it was the Cardinals. In both seasons the Dodgers were beat down in the NLCS by the Philadelphia Phillies. Both times in five games. Each year those Phillies teams crushed our collective spirits. Two years, two NLCS losses, two soul crushing losses.
My how times have changed haven’t they? This year’s Dodgers are different. This year we won’t be pushed around. This season the Dodgers continued their long list of amazing feats with their first four game sweep in Philadelphia ever. The last time it happened the Dodgers were in Brooklyn back in 1946. They did it without their perennial MVP Matt Kemp, who is still sidelined with a strained left hamstring
This year, the Dodgers came from behind to rally to victory in all four games. Three of the four were decided by one run. Many people will argue that these Phillies were not the same Phillies that beat us three and four years ago. That much is true, but it doesn’t matter. Yes these Phillies are besieged with injuries. Sure Ryan Howard and Chase Utley haven’t played all season due to their injuries. Pitching machine Roy Halladay finally broke down, tearing his LAT, and requiring six to eight weeks of recovery time. The Phillies have had to play guys like Michael Martinez and Freddy Galvis. Now even Galvis is out with injury.
Before the season Raul Iblanez, the banana-faced Dodger killer, left for free agency, and Jayson Werthless was long gone. With Big Nose Howard and Utley out, all that remained from those Phillie teams were rat face Shane Victorino, Placido Polanco, and longtime Dodger killer catcher Carlos Ruiz.
In game one, with Clayton Kerhsaw on the mound battling Vance Worley, the Dodgers had staked Kersh to an early 3-0 lead. However a hanging meatball to Polanco resulted in a game tying two-run home run. With the game still tied at 3-3, the Phillies mutli million dollar all-star closer Jonathon Papelbon came out of the pen to try and preserve the tie. It was Dee Gordon’s thrilling lead-off triple that brought the Dodgers back. His emphatic “let’s go!” he shouted into the Dodger dugout, as he slid into third base, raising his hands in the air. The next batter another unlikely Dodger hero, in a long list of unlikely heroes 27 year old former farm hand Elian Herrera singled through the hole at short to score Gordon and give the Dodgers a 4-3 lead. Herrera helped again to preserve that victory with a sliding catch in the bottom of the ninth of a sinking Victorino line drive. Kenley Jansen would nail down the first of his three saves in the series. Dodgers win 4-3
In game two, Elian Herrera seemingly plucked out of obscurity became the hero for the second night in a row. The Dodgers faced their longtime foe Cliff Lee. The man had a 0.40 ERA against the Dodgers, and hadn’t allowed a single run to the boys in blue since 2008. They were down 1-0 in the top of the eighth inning, and things were looking bleak. Lee had held the Dodgers to just two hits while whiffing 12 by then. The Phillies left him in too long and he began to tire. The Dodgers used the same strategy in game four against Cole Hamels. They just waited lee out. He had already reached 100 pitches by the eighth inning, and the Dodgers started a furious rally. Treanor a lead-off double started it off. There was a failed bunt attempt, Tony Gwynn was thrown out trying to go to third base, from first on an Abreu single. Hunter Pence’s laser throw cut him down. Dee Gordon’s base hit kept the inning alive. Elian Herrera again stepped up and delivered. A two-run double off the wall to give the Dodgers the win. Let’s not forget normally frustrating Chad Billingsley who hadn’t won since April, pitching seven dominant innings, holding the Phillies to just that one lone run. Kenley Jansen again secured the save. Dodgers win 2-1.
Game three was a battle. The Dodgers had fallen behind 4-2 in the fifth inning despite having Chris Capuano on the mound. Ty Wigginton, and Jimmy Rollins would both homer to give the Phillies a 4-2 lead. The Dodgers however would rally back, in typical scratch and claw style that has defined their season. They knocked out opposing starter Kyle Kendrick with an A.J. Ellis single, a James Loney double, and an intentional walk to Tony Gwynn. Another walk to Jerry Hairston would force in another run. Then Dee Gordon’s single to right would score two, putting the Dodgers ahead 5-4. The Dodgers added another run, and were ahead 6-4 going into the bottom of the ninth inning. Kenley Jansen recorded another white knuckle save, by staving off a last minute Phillie’s rally. He whiffed former Dodger Jim Thome, and induced Brian Schneider to pop out to end the game. Dodgers win 6-5.
Game four saw the Dodgers defeat the same guy they are rumored to be interested in signing. Former World Series MVP Cole Hamels, and the Phillie’s last hope of avoiding a four game sweep to the Dodgers, for the first time since 1946. Justin from That Ball’s Outta Here described the rumors as the “doomsday scenario”, however the only doomsday scenario we saw was the Phillie’s season being destroyed by the Dodgers, the team with the best record in Baseball. Hamel’s opponent Aaron Harang was once again an underdog. The game started out very good for the Phillies. Again it looked bleak for the Dodgers. Hamels was dominating, and the Phillies plated three runs in the bottom of the third off of Harang. The Dodgers shot themselves in the foot with two costly throwing errors by Alex Castellanos, and series hero Elian Herrera. There was a sacrifice fly, and a Mike Fontenot RBI single that put the Phillies in front 3-0.
The Dodgers plated a run in the fourth thanks to two fielding errors by Ty Wigginton and a sac fly from Hairston. In the top of the sixth, the Dodgers plated three runs to take the lead and crush whatever was left of the Phillie’s dwindling hopes. There was a Herrera walk, and a Rivera single. Then consecutive Run scoring singles from James Loney, Tony Gwynn, and Matt Treanor gave the Dodgers the lead. Finally the Dodgers scored four runs in the top of the ninth to put the game out of reach. Aaron Harang tossed another quality start en route to picking up his 100 career win. Dodgers win 8-3, and sweep the four game series.
The Dodger’s sweep marked the end of the Phillie’s little dynasty here that began back in 2007. The Phillies have been dethroned as the National League’s best team. It couldn’t have come soon enough. This sweep was a true team effort, with everyone contributing. The Dodgers are the new kings of the National League. Yep They’re back on top. They’ve vanquished the same team that ripped out Dodger fans hearts like that guy from Indiana Jones and the temple of doom. I watched the last game of the 2009 NLCS with tears in my eyes. It was heartbreaking, and this is our just desserts. Seriously, Screw you Philadelphia. Because for the Dodger’s foes, revenge is a dish best served cold.
Tags: A.J. Ellis Aaron Harang Alex Castellanos Andre Ethier Bobby Abreu Chad Billingsley Chris Capuano Dee Gordon Dodgers Don Mattingly James Loney Jerry Hairston Jr. Juan Rivera Kenley Jansen Matt Kemp Scott Elbert Tony Gwynn Jr.