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Phillies, Halladay dominate another NLDS opener: A fan’s perspective
The Philadelphia Phillies may not have ended their last few postseason runs on a high note. But since 2007, we Phillies fans have become used to seeing them start the playoffs with a bang. What's more, it is now becoming a tradition for Roy Halladay(notes) to breeze through Game 1 of the NLDS as well.
It didn't look like these traditions would stay intact on Oct. 1 as Halladay and the Phillies fell behind 3-0 to the St. Louis Cardinals. In fact, fans may have gotten flashes of 2007 when Philadelphia last lost an NLDS Game 1 and then didn't win the next two games against the Colorado Rockies. Those Rockies were a team of destiny that rode a major hot streak to a wild card and then a pennant, and it was looking like these Cardinals were ready to do the same.
But the only difference between Halladay's no-hit Game 1 last season and this opener was the early three-run homer by Lance Berkman(notes). After that, Halladay retired 21 straight batters and worked on a no-hitter over seven innings instead of nine. And unlike in that legendary performance, the Phillies piled on a lot of run support for him, even though it took a while.
Despite having no offense for five innings and swinging too early in most at-bats, Philadelphia's batters finally flipped the switch and piled on 10 runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings. The 11-6 triumph may have been quite ominous in the first half, but it did finally become the Phillies' fourth straight NLDS Game 1 victory.
Their debut win over the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2008 postseason was the first step toward erasing their winless performance against the Rockies in 2007—and then some. In 2009, Cliff Lee(notes) began his legendary playoff run by shutting down the Rockies in Game 1 and showing that that Colorado club wouldn't repeat history. Then, of course, Halladay wrote his name into the record books at the Cincinnati Reds' expense to start the 2010 postseason.
But the Phillies have only begun and ended the playoffs with a victory in 2008, and the final victory is what people remember more than the first. In the rush to be the first playoff team to 11 wins this month, every one of them counts, yet it may take a more complete nine-inning performance for Philadelphia to get the last few triumphs. The Phillies had to learn that lesson the hard way in Game 2 when they were the one to blow a big early lead to the Cardinals this time.
Winning the first Game 1 of the postseason makes it easier to propel a team towards more complete performances down the line, at least in theory. That theory didn't hold for the 2009 and 2010 Phillies, unlike the 2008 club. Hopefully, there will be plenty of time to determine if the 2011 Philadelphia ballclub has better luck in the future.
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