For the 5th straight year, the Phillies are National League East Champs! A 9-2 win over the Cardinals sealed the division.
The winning pitcher was Roy Oswalt who did not allow a single run through seven innings. Oswalt seems to finally have his mojo back after suffering a good part of the year with back issues. But tonight, he was spot-on.
The celebration began a little bit early in the eighth inning. Going into the eighth, the Phillies were in a tight 3-2 game. But Raul Ibanez rode in like a knight on a white horse, blowing the game wide open when he smashed a grand slam. The crowd exploded and the party carried right through to the end of the game.
Although it was not a save situation, Ryan Madson was given the 9th inning, which was fitting. After going through four closers this year due to injuries, Madson has established himself as the go-to guy. He deserved to be on the mound to close out the game.
Chase Utley made the final play with a little bit of flash as he barehanded a hopping grounder and tossed to first. For a guy who is normally all grit and no glitter, it was fun to see him add a bit of style to the final out.
To kick off the champagne celebration, the Phillies gathered around Hunter Pence. He looked like he was the monkey in the middle as the team started popping the corks, dousing Pence in the process.
Clinching the title early means more rest for guys who have been nursing injuries like Ryan Howard and Placido Polanco. But there are still games to be played and home field advantage up for grabs. Look for the Phillies to keep trying to win games, starting tomorrow night at 8:05pm. Cole Hamels will pitch.
I will return with photos. See you there!
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Head shot by Jenn Zambri Photography