Sep 272010
Phillies 2B Chase Utley

Phillies 2B Chase Utley

September 27 Philadelphia Inquirer:

“Almost all of the lights were turned off at Citizens Bank Park and the only people in the stands when the 2010 Phillies clinched a postseason berth were employees sifting row by row to collect trash.

The team was near Baltimore on a train bound for Washington when it clinched a postseason berth. The protective plastic coverings in the home clubhouse were never unfurled. During Sunday’s 7-3 loss to the Mets, clubhouse attendants removed the furniture from the room – you know, just in case the Phillies staged a stunning comeback that would have caused cork-popping.

It never happened. As the Phillies squandered opportunities against the Mets, the 123d straight sellout crowd in South Philadelphia cheered. The fans cheered as Ryan Howard stepped to the plate in the seventh – only because the Washington Nationals had taken a two-run lead late against Atlanta. They cheered as Danys Baez worked in mop-up relief – only because the scoreboard on the right-field wall displayed a final score. Washington had won and the Phillies‘ magic number was one, ensuring at least a tie with Atlanta atop the National League East.

It was the perfect script for the regular-season home finale, but the Phillies could not end it the way they wanted.

“The fans have been tremendous all year, but I’m disappointed,” said Chase Utley, who hit a three-run homer in the fifth. “We can’t do anything about it, so we’re going to go to Washington and keep it going.”

Instead, the Phillies, who never seem to make this process easy, had to settle for a less dramatic celebration on the train. With San Diego’s 12-2 loss to Cincinnati that ended more than two hours after the Phillies lost, they were assured of at least winning the wild card.

On Monday, either a Braves loss or a Phillies win will clinch a fourth straight division crown.

“Am I disappointed?” manager Charlie Manuel said. “I don’t know if I’m disappointed or not – as long as we clinch.”

And eventually, that is bound to happen. For the Phillies to lose the division, they would have to lose their final six games and Atlanta would have to win its final six. Based upon head-to-head records, the Braves would be division champions.”

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