It’s been one game, and the Phillies have already outdone their 2007 playoff performance against the Colorado Rockies. They did something they just couldn’t do two years ago.
Accompanied by 46,000+ people in the friendly confines of Citizens Bank Park (and its 25 mph winds), the Phillies rolled to a 5-1 victory behind a complete-game from game 1 starter Cliff Lee.
No other way to describe it. Lee, who struggled for the most part in September (2-4 record), showed the Phillies faithful why the trade deadline deal that brought the former Cy Young award winner to South Philly was a difference maker. After giving up 3 hits over the first two innings, Lee settled down, to the tune of retiring 16 consecutive hitters, a span that lasted over five innings. That just about set the Rockies fate, as Lee’s middle inning perfection gave the Phillies bats time to get used to Rockies game 1 starter Ubaldo Jimenez.
Jimenez, who was flat out dominant through four innings, felt the wrath of a facing arguably the most powerful offense in the NL, as the Phillies tagged him for five runs over the next two innings, providing plenty of support for Lee to go the distance and help clinch a game 1 victory comfortably.
A couple good things to come from this.
: With his electric stuff, Jimenez has by far the most potential to shut down the Phillies bats out of any Rockies starter, and he didn’t. With Jorge De La Rosa left off the postseason roster because of injury, Colorado now has to send Aaron Cook out to the mound for game 2, who lost his only outing this year against the Phillies at Citizens Park this season. Huge advantage to the Phillies.
: Lee’s complete game gave the Phillies a rare, comfortable playoff win. Not only did this instill confidence in the Phillies clubhouse, but it also kept the Phillies bullpen out of the game. One of the ways to ensure that Brad Lidge and company don’t blow any more saves is to have a starter who can go the distance or at least deep into games. Hopefully Cole Hamels, and whoever is starting game 3 can follow suit.
: The Phillies bats, although it took a little while, seem to look comfortable at the plate. Forget the fact that Jimenez was throwing flatout lasers on Monday (fastball topped out at 100 mph), but he also had some electric breaking pitching, especially through four innings. The five-run swing in the fifth and sixth inning showed that the Phillies adjusted, and got huge contributions from the middle of their order, something they will undoubtably need to carry them deep into the playoffs. The Phillies 4,5, and 6 hitters (Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth, Raul Ibanez) each had two hits, and knocked in four of the five runs for the Phillies in those two innings.
Needless to say, big win for the Phillies.
Obviously, if the Phillies can continue getting dominant starting pitching and timely hitting, their bullpen issues won’t even be a factor in this series.