Baseball

Phillies down Astros to clinch first postseason berth since 2011

For the first time in 11 years, the Philadelphia Phillies are headed back to the MLB Playoffs.

A 3-0 road victory over the Houston Astros clinched a first postseason berth for the Phillies since 2011 as Rob Thompson’s team got a stellar pitching outing from Aaron Nola and a storybook ending finish from Zach Eflin. Despite firing manager Joe Girardi on June 3, the Phillies stuck with Thompson as their interim for the remainder of the season, and overcame several key injuries this year including Bryce Harper, Nick Castellanos, among others.

“I think when we started out when I signed here in ‘19, I think I said it was going to take us a couple years,” Harper said postgame. “We’re not where we need to be right now, of course. This is Step 1 to hopefully greater success and a greater opportunity to get where we need to be. But we’re going to enjoy this, we’re going to have fun. There’s nothing like popping bottles in October, and I’m excited to be part of this.”

The Phillies endured an up-and-down September, one that included defeats to the Chicago Cubs, Toronto Blue Jays, and Washington Nationals, teams behind them in the overall league standings. However, three wins from their trip to Washington this past weekend closed the gap for the Phillies to clinch a postseason berth, defeating already-qualified Houston at Minute Maid Park on Monday night.

Kyle Schwarber launched two home runs in Monday’s win while Nola conceded only two hits in 6 2/3 innings pitched. It was a strong performance for the Phillies, even with the Milwaukee Brewers fighting back to win their game over the Arizona Diamondbacks. Schwarber has been a key addition to the Phillies lineup this season, totaling 46 home runs to date and coming up with several big performances in the absences of Harper and Castellanos.

After being a part of several rosters to date, Schwarber is excited to be part of his first “Red October” in Philadelphia.

“It’s very satisfying, because you know what — it’s a long…season,” Schwarber said. “It’s unbelievably long, and to see the things that we went through as a team, where you go through a manager change, you go through Harp [Harper] being down, you go through Seggy [Segura] being down, you go through Wheeler being down, you go through the naysayers saying we can’t catch the baseball, it makes it that much more satisfying to be where we’re at. And you know what? The September that we had, it wasn’t the September that we wanted it to be, but to be in the position we are and be able to celebrate at the end of the year, that’s what it’s all about.

“We want to get it done for them,” Schwarber said of Phillies fans. “We’re not out here trying to screw things up. We’re out here trying to win. And now that we’re here, we’re going to try to bring this [celebration] back to Philadelphia and get these people in the seats and hear what this thing is all about. I want to see it. I want to hear it. I’ve seen videos. It looks unbelievable, and I want to see it with my own eyes, so it’s our job to get it back to them now.”

The Phillies will be on the road for their Wild Card showdown later this month, but do not yet know who they will face. Either NL East rivals New York Mets or the NL Central champions St. Louis Cardinals will oppose the Phillies during the three-game series, two tough opponents for the Fightin Phils. Should they advance past either of them, Citizens Bank Park will welcome playoff action for the first time in 11 years, bringing a returning atmosphere to the city and stadium.


You can follow Larry Henry on Twitter (@lhenry019) and e-mail him at lhenry1919@gmail.com.

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