CINCINNATI (CBS)—There’s nothing unique about it anymore. Each postseason series triumph doesn’t seem to come with the obligatory over-the-top celebration pile. The Phillies broke it down with some group hugs and handshakes. If you closed your eyes and didn’t know it was October, you’d almost swear it was a regular-season weeknight victory in June by the way the Phillies’ celebrated their 2-0 victory on the field over the Cincinnati Reds in the clinching game of the National League Division Series Sunday night.
They spilled some champagne in the clubhouse, but the Phillies do reserved very well, because reaching their third-straight National League Championship Series has become commonplace and this is a team with a greater vision—and beating the Reds was just the first step.
But the season of firsts did continue for the Phils. Cole Hamels zipped through the Cincinnati batting order, and the Phillies walked right through the fumbling Reds at Great American Ball Park, taking the best-of-five National League Division Series 3-0 and recording the first postseason sweep in Phillies’ history.
The Phils NLDS achievement can be placed up there with the team finishing with the best regular-season record for the first time in franchise history.
Philadelphia will now have to wait for the winner of the San Francisco Giants-Atlanta Braves NLDS, which the Giants lead, 2-1, for the start of the National League championship series that begins Saturday, October 16 at Citizens Bank Park.
The Reds went away quietly, thanks to Hamels. The Reds never had multiple base runners on in any inning. Phillies’ pitching held the best-hitting National League team to a .123 batting average through the three games.
“You have to really bear down and you have to make good pitches,” Hamels said. “I left a few pitches up, but I got tremendous defense behind me. It’s just another moment going towards the next step, and it helps especially shutting out a team like that. I just wanted to make good pitch after good pitch. I think when I do that I’m successful. I think we have the experience and we want to win. We want to take this and go out and win as fast as we possibly can and get home.”
The Reds were 20-7 against left-handed starters at Great American Ball Park. But that didn’t matter much against Hamels. He took out the Cincinnati crowd. He doused the swirling white towels. At one time, he retired 10 in a row. Through seventh innings, he gave up four hits and Cincinnati could only get one runner to second, on Ramon Hernandez’s two-out double in the seventh.
Hamels quickly quelled that threat by getting Jay Bruce to fly out to right field. He had seven strikeouts in seven innings, throwing 25 change-ups, 20 for strikes and most of them came on swings.
The only mistake the Phils made came in the eighth when Placido Polanco and Carlos Ruiz couldn’t communicate on a Ryan Hanigan foul ball and Polanco wound up dropping it. No problem. Hamels squashed that by getting Hanigan to ground out to short.
Through eight, Hamels had retired 19 of 21 without giving up a walk and recording eight strikeouts. He finished with nine strikeouts and gave up five hits on 119 pitches. Brandon Phillips led off the ninth with a single, but Hamels got the dangerous Joey Votto to ground into a double play.
The Reds bobbled ground balls and threw the ball around. They committed seven errors in the series, and permitted six unearned runs, including the Phillies’ first run in Game 3. Polanco scored on an Orlando Cabrera throw that pulled Votto off first, allowing Jayson Werth to reach safely with two outs in the first.
Chase Utley provided some insurance with a solo homer in the fifth giving the Phils a 2-0 lead.
The Phillies will now have five days off before they play again.
“Sometimes in the playoffs, they say the layoff hurts you, but I don’t think that can hurt this team,” Phils’ manager Charlie Manuel said.
Reported by: Joseph Santoliquito