Advertisement

When it counted, pitching carried the Phillies

In the end, the key to the Philadelphia Phillies winning their first World Series in 28 years and ending a championship drought for their city that reached back to 1983 was something that's been true about baseball since the game's misty beginnings.

Pitching prevails.

Advertisement

The 2008 Phillies were characterized by their hitting, particularly their long-ball explosiveness. Ryan Howard's 48 regular-season home runs, Chase Utley's 33, Pat Burrell's 33 were the oft-cited statistics. In all, they hit 214 homers as a team and were a single run shy of 800 runs scored.

But when it counted in the playoffs, it was Phillies' pitching that carried the day. For 14 post-season games, in an era of inflated earned run averages, the Phils had a combined ERA of 3.08. Were it not for one rocky outing by starter Jamie Moyer in the NLCS, it would have been well under 3.00. The Phils' ace and Series MVP, Cole Hamels, averaged seven innings in five post-season starts and never allowed more than two runs in any outing. The closer, Brad Lidge, was perfect in save attempts – as he had been all season – and preserved seven of the Phils' 11 wins giving up just one run in the post-season and striking out nearly half the batters he faced.

In the post-season, the Phillies hitting was so-so and at times, hugely disappointing. The three boppers combined for a tepid nine home runs and 43 strike outs and as a team, the Phils left runners in scoring position at an alarming rate. Take away their 10-run explosion in Game 4 of the Series and the Phils averaged nearly a run less per game in the post-season than in the regular season. Yet, they cruised in all three series and finished an impressive 11-3 in flattening Milwaukee, the L.A. Dodgers and Tampa Bay.

So for any team that has hopes of being able to celebrate in October in the middle of the infield as the Phillies did last night in Philadelphia – and, of course, that's every ballclub, including the Orioles – the lesson of pitching is one to heed.

Advertisement
Advertisement