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The Day After: Pitching Made It Possible

The Phillies dispatched the Brewers, 3-1, to take the best-of-five National League Division Series. How they did it — pitching, pitching, pitching.

They say pitching and defense carries you deep into the postseason, and that’s no joke. The Phils surrendered just nine runs in the four-game set, holding the Crew to 26 hits while walking 10 (five of those walks came in the game three loss, proof that walks were the Phils’ worst enemy). And the great performances were across the spectrum.

It started with the ace, Cole Hamels, who established himself in a big game. His wizardry of the Milwaukee offense set the tone for the series — throw strikes and keep them off balance, and you’ll win. Backing him was Brett Myers, who played the same game in a fine game-two performance. And in his most inspired outing yet, Joe Blanton silenced the Crew in six innings. Even Jamie Moyer, who was victim to a high pitch count and a few walks, kept the Phils in his game by wiggling out of a couple jams.

The bullpen was huge. Brad Lidge scared us in game one, but he shut down Milwaukee in the other two wins. Behind him was Ryan Madson, who allowed a run on three hits in four innings. While you can’t really pin an MVP on any player in a five-game series, Madson was heavily involved and did his job, earning big praise. JC Romero made a one-pitch cameo in the series, but it was a big pitch, as it defused Prince Fielder in a big eighth-inning spot.

Of course, Fielder and some of the other Brewers contributed to the Phils great pitching by playing so poorly. While JJ Hardy hit .429, and Ryan Braun hit .313, the Brew Crew was paltry at the plate. They couldn’t bring home runners in big spots, and worse, they had four extra-base hits (the Phils had 17 extra-base hits). That won’t get it done.

Were the Phillies lucky the Brewers couldn’t hit? Maybe. But Hamels would’ve defeated anyone in game one, and Myers probably would’ve done enough to win game two, regardless. As for Blanton, he was given a nice safety net, and he took advtange. Against any team, the Phils would’ve won this series through its pitching.

As for the NLCS? The Dodgers aren’t the Brewers: They can hit anything. The pitching staff better be ready.

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