Before the season started, shortstop Jimmy Rollins made another bold prediction as he has been accustomed to over the past two years. “Philadelphia Phillies will be the team to beat in the East” and he did not disappoint as the Phillies clinched the NL East Division with a 4-3 win over the Washington Nationals at Citizen Bank Park this past Saturday giving them their second division title in the past two years.
The Phillies were clinging to a 4-2 lead entering the ninth inning. Closer Brad Linge barely escaped the inning until Nationals Ryan Zimmerman laced a ground ball which Jimmy Rollins made a diving snare for and quickly pitched it to second basemen Chase Utley to complete what would be a game ending double securing the East for the Phillies.
“Determination beats talent,” Rollins said after making possibly the biggest play of his season. After a very quiet season at the plate for the reigning MVP Rollins, which saw his average plummet to .277, his lowest since the 2004, Rollins made up for it in the field committing only seven errors all season which should be good enough to win the Gold Glove Award this year.
First basemen Ryan Howard has always done his best in the month of September. Howard is hitting over .350, blasting over 15 or more homeruns and driving in over 40 of his league leading 146 RBI’s has quickly dubbed himself as Mr. September. “Amazing” is the only word to use to describe this monster. His season started off extremely slow, which worried Philly fans that he would ever get over the Mendoza line in average, but Howard surged after the all star break hitting 25 homeruns and raising his average from a pitiful .198 to a respectable .250 over a span of two months finishing with 48 home runs and 146 RBIs.Sports fans don’t be surprised if you hear this statement in the next few weeks: Ryan Howard Mr. MVP.
Speaking of MVPs, second basemen Chase Utley was quite frankly the MVP of the first half of the season hitting 22 homeruns, driving in 68 runs and was selected to start in the 2008 All Star Game at Yankee Stadium.Utley had it all up in till the second half of the season. While batting in front of Howard, Utley was only able to muster 11 more home runs driving in 36 runs lowering his average to a season high 328 to .292.
When talking about surprises and players who ignite a spark for a team, look no further than right field Jayson Werth. When veteran Geoff Jenkins went on the DL, Jayson stepped up setting career highs in ever offense category with 24 home runs, 67 RBI’s and also collecting 113 hits raising his average up to .271.
Werth wasn’t the only surprise – Closer Lidge topped them all. With doubts and negative criticism coming toward the Phillies for acquiring this savvy closer who has the tendency of blowing more games then saving, Lidge proved all his critics wrong posting 41 saves in 41 opportunities while finishing with a 1.95 ERA.
“We’re not done just yet” said Utley toward the fans at Citizen Bank Park. Next stop will be there on Wednesday against the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Division Series.
(AP News Photo)