October 11 Philadelphia Daily News columnist Paul Hagen:
“So the Phillies disposed of the Reds, almost without breaking a sweat. They remain the hottest team on the planet, having won an amazing 37 of their last 44 games. That’s an .841 winning percentage, kids, an almost incomprehensible number over such an extended period of time.
Which makes the National League Championship Series seem like little more than a formality, doesn’t it? Just looking at their dominance for the last 6 weeks makes it difficult to imagine either the Giants or Braves being much more than a minor inconvenience standing between the team that once again sprayed champagne last night and earned a third straight trip to the World Series.
It isn’t that easy, of course. And one number stands out like a red, blinking warning signal against overconfidence after a 2-0 win touched off yet another clubhouse celebration, this one at Great American Ball Park.
Their NLDS team batting average: .212.
“I’m never disappointed as long as a W comes out of it,” insisted manager Charlie Manuel. “That’s our main objective. I also watched the game and I saw some well-hit balls. I also saw here we just missed some balls. We had a few on the end of the bat that were just below the fat part of the bat. Like if we had’ve hit ’em a little better, we could have gotten something out of it. That’s what I saw.
“Do I want us to score some more runs? Of course. And we’re definitely very capable of it. I’m always positive. When we start [hitting], somebody is in trouble. That’s how I look at it. We’re going to start sooner or later and when we start getting ’em, we’ll take care of things.
It didn’t really matter in the first round because their pitching was so good and the Reds’ defense was so bad – eight errors that helped account for six unearned runs.
They have to believe they can count on their pitching to remain a strength. They can’t rely on the largesse of their next opponent, though.
This is a team that has made a remarkable transition in just one season from a lineup that clubs the other team into submission to one that is capable of throwing a shutout on any given night.
Nothing is a given, especially at this time of year. On paper, though, they appear perfectly set up to advance.
If they play the Braves, this is a team they beat five out of six times in the last 2 weeks of the season when the games mattered more to Atlanta than to them. If they play the Giants, they meet a team that has had trouble scoring runs against even mediocre pitching this season. Likely they wouldn’t need to score as often to win.
Still, no matter who they play, they probably are going to need a little more help from the bats next time around.”
PhillySportsCentral.com – Philadelphia sports news, rumors, blogs, & message board discussion forums