The Phils finally won a their first postseason game since the 1993 World Series, and they did it with such almost mind numbing insouciance that you would think they did this every year with a 3-1 win over the Brewers in game 1.
Cole Hamels lulled the Brewers' lineup of mostly Punch-and-Judy .240 hitters for eight scoreless innings while the Phils almost equally sonorous bats connected for a three-run third and quickly went back to sleep. Suddenly Mitch Williams-esque Brad Lidge made the ninth interesting allowing the Brewers' sole run and ending the game on a strikeout to one of the Brewers best hitters, Corey "Eyeglasses at Night" Hart, with two runners on and the tie run at second.
The third inning was something to see, however. A rally started by the weak-hitting Carlos Ruiz. A two-out rally to score three runs. A few key misplays and three walks by the Brewers to go with the Phils lonely two hits on the inning.
One of those two hits was a nice slicing drive to center by Chase Utley that the usually trusty Mike Cameron misplayed into a double, scoring the first two runs of the inning, the only two the Phils would need with Hamels.
There were many positives: the ease of the win in general, Hamels' dominating change that reminded me of Lefty Carlton's buckling slider, and a big hit by the team's best player (Utley) to exorcise the demons from last year's three-and-out series against the Rockies. Also, Milwaukee's misplays in the field, their rag-tag rotation, and the overall lackluster performancefive walksof the still rehabbing starter "Don" Yovani Gallardo gives one the impression that they might not put up much of a fight.
However, the Phils bats did collect just four hits and looked particularly overmatched by middle reliever and potential starting pitcher, Carlos Villanueva. Jason Werth went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and three men left on base. Pedro Feliz went 0-for-4 with six men left on base. Lidge's recent lackluster performance though they have not resulted in a blown save as yet, might mean that the long season has started wearing on him.
I am cautiously optimistic, however. A decent performance by Brett "Meat" Myers against Brewer ace CC Sabathia might end this series after two games. Myers was 2-3 with a 5.24 ERA in September which makes one wonder if the resurgence he experienced after his Elba-like exile to the Triple-A Iron Pigs is over. He might be back to his old, incredibly exasperating self.
A win tomorrow means that the all that stands between the Phils and the NLCS is the ever-mediocre Dave Bush, the game three starter, and Jeff Suppan in game four. Of course, the Phils would be wise to finish Milwaukee off early as Sabathia looms large in game five.