Final Countdown to the Playoffs: Game 1: Sweeping the Nationals and ending the regular season on a high note.
The Phillies, behind a bunch of rookies and bench players, defeated the Nationals, 8-3, ending the 2008 regular season on a high note. They will now be facing the Brewers in the National League Divisional Series starting this coming Wednesday afternoon.
The Phillies took a quick 1-0 lead in the first as, with two men on base and one out, Eric Bruntlett, who has earlier singled and then moved to third on Tadahito Iguchi’s double, would cross the plate on Nationals’ starter Odalis Perez’s wild pitch, while Iguchi would move up to third. The Nationals would tie the game in the third, as the Phillies’ surprise starter Kyle Kendrick would give up a lead-off home run to Luke Montz, his first career home run. The Nationals would then take the lead in the fourth as, with a runner on second and no one out, Kory Casto would hit a RBI double, scoring Anderson Hernandez, who has earlier doubled, to make it 2-1 Nationals. Two batters later, with Casto now on third, after moving up on Ryan Langerhans’ ground out, 4-3, he would score on Alberto Gonzalez’s RBI single, making it 3-1 Nationals. The Phillies would strike back in their half of the fourth, as, with runners on second and third and two outs, So Taguchi would hit a two-run single, scoring Lou Marson, who has earlier singled, his first hit in the majors, and would move up to third on pinch hitter Jayson Werth’s single, who would later steal second, tying the game up at three all. Eric Bruntlett would then follow with a RBI double, knocking in Taguchi and giving the Phillies a 4-3 lead. The Phillies would add to their lead in the sixth, when, with a runner on first and two outs, Taguchi would hit a RBI triple, knocking in pinch hitter Ryan Howard, who has earlier singled to the left of the shift that most major league teams would put up against him, making it 5-3 Phillies. Then in the eighth, the Phillies would put the game away, when, with a runner on first and two outs, Marson would hit a monster two-run home run to left, his first career home run, scoring Greg Golson, who was earlier safe at first on a force play, which has wiped out Mike Cervenak, who has earlier reached base on a fielding error by Nationals’ shortstop Hernandez, giving the Phillies a 7-3 lead. Pinch hitter Matt Stairs would then follow with a solo home run to right, his thirteen home run of the year, to give the Phillies an 8-3 lead. That would be the ballgame as Clay Condrey would come in to pitch a scoreless ninth, although he would give up a walk and then a single before recording the final out of the Phillies’ 2008 regular season by getting Emilio Bonifacio to ground out, 3-1.
Kyle Kendrick, the surprise starter, would get a no-decision as he pitches four innings, giving up three earned runs on four hits. Kendrick, who is not on the Phils’ post-season roster, will now be sent down to the Florida Instructional League to rebuild his confidence in his pitches as well as being taught two more pitches to help compliment his slider, before he comes back to join the team for spring training 2009. Les Walrond would get the win as he pitches two scoreless innings, giving up two hits as he struck out four. His record is now 1-1 with a 6.10 ERA. J.A. Happ would pitch one and two-thirds innings of scoreless relief, giving up two hits as he struck out three. Rudy Seanez would pitch a third of an inning, getting out the only batter he would face. Clay Condrey would pitch a scoreless ninth, giving up a hit and a walk. Odalis Perez would get the lost, as he is only able to pitch three and two-thirds inning, leaving the game early because of a possible injury and with the Nats not taking any chances with his career, giving up four runs, only three of which were earned, on eight hits while striking out five. His record is now 7-12 with an ERA of 4.34. Shairon Martis would pitch two innings and a third, giving up an earned run on two hits while striking out three. Marco Estrada would pitch two innings, giving up three runs, only two of which were earned, on three hits.
The Phillies (92-70) would end the year with a sweep of the Nationals, winning the third game of the series with rookies and bench players, although two of the regulars, Jayson Werth and Ryan Howard would both come up to bat as pinch hitters, both getting singles and both scoring. Among the bench players, So Taguchi would lead the way by going 3 for 5, getting a triple, knocking in three runs while scoring one. Eric Bruntlett and Tadahito Iguchi would be next as they each went two for five, with Bruntlett knocking in a run and scoring one. Geoff Jenkins would be the other bench player who would get a hit. The only one among the rookies with a good day would be Lou Marson, who would go 2 for 4, getting his first major league career hit, a single, score his first run, knock in his first RBI and hit his first home run of his career, all in the same game. He also threw out his first base stealer of his career, as he caught the Nationals’ Emilio Bonifacio when he overslid second base on a steal attempt, tagged out by Iguchi when he tried to put his foot back on the bag. Also, all three pinch hitters that the Phillies would send up to the plate would hit safely as Matt Stairs would add a solo home run to Werth and Ryan’s singles. The victory gives the Phillies the second best record in the National League, beind the Central Division Champions Chicago Cubs, and the fifth in the majors, behind the American League Western Division Chmpions Los Angeles Angles, the American League Eastern Division Champions Tampa Bay Rays and the American League Wild Card Winner and Current World Champions Boston Red Sox.
The Phillies ended the season in first place in the National League Eastern Division, with a record of 92-70 for a winning percentage of .568, ending twelve wins over .500. They ended up being three games ahead of the Mets, who ended up with a record of 89-73 .559, seven and a half games ahead of the Marlins, who ended up with a record of 84-77 .522, twenty games ahead of the Braves, who ended up with a record of 72-90 .444 and thirty-two and a half games ahead of the Nationals, who ended up with a record of 59-102 .366.
The Phillies will now have today and tomorrow to rest up before they get ready to face the Wild Card Winner Milwaukee Brewers for a five games National League Divisional Series, which will start in Philadelphia on Wednesday.