October 04, 2022
Rhys Hoskins had tears in his eyes. It was finally over.
So many losses, so many false starts, so many stalled-out runs, all of it was washed away in an instant Monday night down in Houston.
Kyle Schwarber did exactly what he was brought in to do, Bryson Stott proved that the future was in good hands, Aaron Nola pitched the game of his life, and Zach Eflin, for the first time in his career, closed out the ninth.
The Phillies beat the Astros 3-0, and after months, hell, years of struggle, and one last ugly, often infuriating chase with the Milwaukee Brewers, that NL Wild Card spot was finally clinched.
The Phillies are going to the postseason for the first time since their golden era all came crashing down 11 years ago along the first base line at Citizens Bank Park.
And for Hoskins, and Nola, and Eflin, J.T. Realmuto, Jean Segura, and many others, it'll be their first trip to the playoffs ever.
"This is why we play," Hoskins told NBC Sports Philadelphia on the field postgame, getting visibly choked up. "A lot of blood, lot sweat, lot of tears...It's a great group..."
"This is why we play"— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) October 4, 2022
Rhys Hoskins gets emotional talking about his first time going to the postseason pic.twitter.com/UGz3KeYRGj
The Phillies have two games left down in Houston to close out the regular season, then the Wild Card round will begin Friday.
If things stand as they are after Monday night, they'll be going to St. Louis to face the Cardinals and the trio of Albert Pujols, Yadier Molina, and Adam Wainwright on their farewell tour. Maybe it'll be a chance to exercise even more franchise demons.
But for now, the biggest weight of them all has been lifted, and after 11 years, there was a whole lot to say.
So without further do, here's what they're saying about the Phillies...
Philadelphia has been waiting for this for a long time. But time flies, and sometimes, you don't really realize how long it's actually been.
More than 4,000 days ago, at Minute Maid Park no less, Roy Halladay pitched a complete game shutout against a basement-dwelling Astros squad to send the Phillies to the playoffs for the fifth-straight year.
What no one knew was that it would be the last time for the next 11.
The title-winning core of Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, and Ryan Howard gradually faded away one by one. There's no one left from it.
There's barely anyone left from the core that was supposed to take over in the middle of the decade too. From the 2017 roster, only Nola, Hoskins, and Eflin remained trying to get the Phillies over the hump, and radio man Scott Frankze summed up the timeline beautifully at the top of Monday night's broadcast (captured via Nick Piccone):
Scott Franzke with an intro for the ages on the radio before tonight's game... pic.twitter.com/gny7pwYTlv— Nick Piccone (@_piccone) October 4, 2022
And of course, the call of that cathartic final out:
The Phillies are in the playoffs— Nick Piccone (@_piccone) October 4, 2022
As called by Scott Franzke pic.twitter.com/EbZtY6llRJ
It took thousands of days for the Phillies to get back to the postseason. Thousands of names too, many that never got to stick around to see the dream realized.
Matt Gelb at The Athletic ran through nearly all of them, and all the moments that defined a tumultuous decade, after the Phillies clinched.
Three of the paragraphs that stuck out the most (mostly because I'm a sucker for any mention of Tyler Goeddel):
This was for the unceremonious ends to so many Phillies careers. First, Shane Victorino. Then Halladay and Cliff Lee. Hamels departed six days after he tossed a no-hitter on the road. Chase Utley was traded late at night and did not get a chance to say goodbye. Rollins was traded in the winter. Ryan Howard lasted through 2016, then accused the Phillies of throwing such a good ceremony to honor him that people in baseball thought he had retired.
This was for the infield of Héctor Luna, Mike Fontenot, Jimmy Rollins and Ty Wigginton. This was for the outfield of Tyler Goeddel, Peter Bourjos, and Jimmy Paredes. This was for Steve Susdorf dropping a routine fly ball. This was for Domonic Brown flipping over the side wall at Citi Field and slamming his head on the concrete in his final big-league game. This was for Cedric Hunter, Opening Day right fielder. This was for Casper Wells, who struck out four times as an outfielder and allowed five runs as a pitcher on the same night.
This was for the first-round draft picks who flopped again and again. This was for every prospect who came to the majors with the weight of an organization’s failures on his shoulders. This was for Maikel Franco and Freddy Galvis and César Hernández, loyal placeholders who deserved better. This was for Jorge Alfaro, Jerad Eickhoff, Jake Thompson and Nick Williams — the next core that never was. [The Athletic]
The Phillies needed a good start out of Aaron Nola on Monday night to finally end the drought, and he more than rose to the occasion.
The club's longest-tenured player had devastating movement on his pitches, kept his pitch count in complete control, and for 6 2/3 innings, was flirting with perfection.
Aaron Nola, Wicked Knuckle Curves. 🤢 pic.twitter.com/yFx8TAE2vl— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) October 4, 2022
What should have been one of the loudest nights of the season in the Phillies' dugout, was instead, for good reason, one of the quietest.
After giving up back-to-back singles in the seventh, manager Rob Thomson made the call to the bullpen and José Alvarado and Eflin got the Phils to the finish line.
But Nola more than did his part, and now that the Phillies have finally arrived to October, is one of the biggest reasons they could do further damage alongside Zack Wheeler at the top of the rotation.
For 6⅔ innings, Nola didn’t just show the rest of the NL playoff field why the Phillies will be joining them for the first time in more than a decade. He showed them why they need to be taken seriously. In Nola, they have a pitcher who can do the things that he did Monday night. In Zack Wheeler, they have two.
They were always the reason why it made sense to believe in the Phillies. You know about the offense. Maybe it hasn’t been everything that John Middleton expected when he started writing $20 million checks this offseason. But the bats are there. We’ve seen teams with far less offensive talent than the Phillies score enough runs to win a playoff series. That potential will always be there. At the end of the day, though, it tends to come down to the pitcher.
They have them. More than they have since that 2011 season when the Phillies entered the postseason with three pitchers who every five days seemed to do the things Nola did last night. That’s how good that rotation was. That’s how good the top of this one can be. [The Inquirer]
Look, it was a rough month, and for the last while there, you couldn't even be sure that the Phillies would at least stay ahead of the Brewers.
But they did. They're here. And now that they are, could they be a serious problem for the rest of the postseason field? MLB Network's Mark DeRosa broke down why they very well could.
A big key, however, is that Bryce Harper has to get going.
"This is a scary out in the Postseason."@markdero7 breaks down the sum of all parts that led the @Phillies to snap their 11-year drought and highlights why the NL East team is built to make some Postseason noise come Friday.#MLBCentral | #RingTheBell pic.twitter.com/grpfiPtfFS— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) October 4, 2022
Rob Thomson addressing his team in the clubhouse postgame: "We're not done. After Wednesday we got 13 more wins and then we're World Champions."
THE CLUBHOUSE CANNOT BE TAMED. pic.twitter.com/3zyjKMTAUw— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) October 4, 2022
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