Let’s first get this little piece of business out of the way.
It’s not over.
After a 10-0 whitewashing of the Arizona Diamondbacks in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series at the wild asylum we’ve come to know as Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies are just two wins away from advancing to the World Series for the second straight year.
Aaron Nola twirled a six-inning masterpiece last night, on the heels of Zack Wheeler’s six innings of dominance in Game 1’s 5-3 victory. The Phillies assaulted Arizona starting pitching in both games early, with enough mammoth solo homers to blot out the sun, sending the home crowd into an unhinged frenzy from literally the first pitch. The rest of the roster poured it on late against a Dbacks bullpen that couldn’t get anyone out.
It was a beating so thorough it seemed to send Arizona into another dimension of consciousness.
The ease with which the Phillies dispatched the 84-win Diamondbacks last night could cause one to puff out their chests and proclaim victory prematurely. Here in Philadelphia, we are too wise for such foolishness.
Sure, the Phils now have a commanding 2-0 series lead, and teams that win the first two games of a seven-game playoff series have gone on to win 84% of the time (75 out of 89 series). Sure, they are 7-1 overall in the postseason, have out-homered their opponents 19-4 (!), have the best two starting pitchers in the playoffs, and a bullpen with so many high velocity relievers it’s impossible for Rob Thomson to use them all.
And yes, the Phillies have the best home field advantage in professional sports, with Citizens Bank Park stuffed to the gills with 45,000+ screaming maniacs all of whom are hellbent on making life as loud and uncomfortable for the opposition as possible, while simultaneously lifting up the hometown nine.
No, we should not forget that the series now shifts to the desert, where the rabid Phoenix fanbase will return after infiltrating CBP in Games 1 and 2 to support their tea…
“We found NO Dbacks fans, and we’ve been here for almost two hours,” says the Fox10 Phoenix reporter.
So maybe it’s not reasonable to expect Diamondbacks fans to submit themselves to the Philadelphia sports experience. Surely, the Arizonans will be at a fever pitch as the team returns home for Games 3, 4 and, if necessary, Game 5, with a packed ballpark and nary a postseason seat to be fou…
Hmm. Tough scene.
Well, you can be sure Phillies players won’t take these games for granted. Sure, the Phils are on a roll like we’ve never seen from this franchise in the postseason, but that doesn’t mean things can’t change on a dime.
Perhaps Brandon Pfaadt and his regular season 5.72 ERA will shut down a lineup that has hit 17 home runs in their last 5 games and 15 in their last four, both MLB records, and perhaps Arizona can reverse a shocking trend in which the Phillies have trailed at the end of only two innings so far this postseason, the fewest of any team in the tournament.
We are not to get cocky or overconfident. To get to the Fall Classic, the Phillies still need to take at least two of these next five games, with two (if needed) happening in the ballpark where they’ve posted a .718 playoff winning percentage.
Maybe Arizona hitters will be able to work some magic against postseason hero and Game 3 starter Ranger Suarez on Thursday night, and break through against a pitching staff that has posted a 1.39 ERA so far in the playoffs, second-lowest in the first eight games of a playoffs since the 1983 Baltimore Orioles.
Nothing has been won yet. Don’t get over your skis. The Phillies are still six wins away from their third world championship and two away from reaching baseball’s final round.
Despite the total dominance we’ve seen thus far, there is still work to do.