Philadelphia Phillies aim for first World Series title since 2008


The Phils dumped the NL Central champions St. Louis Cardinals 93 wins and then beat the Atlanta Braves 17-4 in two home games that folded the defending World Series champions.

  • By Dan Gelston/Associated Press

Philadelphia Phillies center Kyle Schwarber celebrates with teammates after the Phillies won a baseball game against the Houston Astros to clinch a playoff berth, Monday, Oct. 3, 2022, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Rob Thomson raised his bottle of champagne to toast the clubhouse after the Phillies became the latest baseball team to clinch a playoff berth. The Phillies manager then went to take a sip from his bottle and – doink! The cork was still inside.

Two wet and wild postseason games later, Thomson has mastered the art of uncorking his bottle while guiding the Phillies to a shot at their first World Series championship since 2008.

“How many more wins? he asked after the Phillies won their NL Division series in four games.

“We have eight more Toppers!” yelled receiver JT Realmuto, using the nickname Thomson.

With that, the celebration was in full swing and the official postseason party anthem, “Dancing on My Own,” was released at 11 to kick off the fun. The Phillies were singing, dancing and turning empty beer crates into paper hats, and cigar smoke wafted throughout the clubhouse.

And why not?

First, the Phillies dropped the NL Central champions St. Louis Cardinals 93 wins, then beat the Atlanta Braves 17-4 in two home games that dispatched the defending World Series champions wrap.

Philadelphia Phillies designated hitter Bryce Harper (3) hits a brace in the sixth inning of Game 1 of a National League Division Series baseball game between the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies , on Tuesday, October 11, 2022, in Atlanta.

Brynn Anderson/AP Photo

Philadelphia Phillies designated hitter Bryce Harper (3) hits a brace in the sixth inning of Game 1 of a National League Division Series baseball game between the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies , on Tuesday, October 11, 2022, in Atlanta.

Next, NLCS Games 1 and 2 this week against the San Diego Padres, who have won 89 games. The Phillies have only won 87 games, but who cares now? The Phillies certainly don’t. Not once has Rhys Hoskins hit a monster home run. Ou Realmuto became the first catcher in playoff history to hit a home run inside the park. Or how Aaron Nola launched an October ace out after an October ace out. Bryce Harper made the Phillies believe with three playoff home runs and a staggering 8-for-16 effort in four games against the Braves.

Harper hit another big number, even on a holiday — he turned 30 on Sunday.

The Phillies did it all in Games 3 and 4 as Phillies fans filled Citizens Bank Park in numbers — and delirious, eardrum-testing noise levels — not seen since the championship heyday of the Jimmy Rollins era, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.

“They work hard for everything they have,” Harper said of fans. “And I get chills because it turns me on, man. It makes me want to win even more. And when they show up like that for us, it makes our team even better. And there were 46,000 people in that stadium, plus 26 on the pitch. We are all together.

The early clinch allows the Phillies to open the NLCS with their aces in order. Zack Wheeler is scheduled to start Game 1 on Tuesday and Nola, who won a perfect seven innings in the deciding wild card start, gets the go-ahead for Game 2. Both pitchers are expected to be available to start a short rest once that the series will move to Philadelphia over the weekend.

The Phillies are 5-1 to start a playoffs for the first time in franchise history and the first time they’ve won five of six playoffs since 2009. Of course, they haven’t does much to add to those win totals after 2011.

Philadelphia Phillies' Kyle Schwarber (12) celebrates after hitting a home run against the Houston Astros in the eighth inning of a baseball game Monday, Oct. 3, 2022 in Houston.

David J. Phillip/AP Photo

Philadelphia Phillies’ Kyle Schwarber (12) celebrates after hitting a home run against the Houston Astros in the eighth inning of a baseball game Monday, Oct. 3, 2022 in Houston.

The Phillies spent a decade in baseball purgatory and seemed destined to spend a few more years there until owner John Middleton kicked Harper out of Washington in 2019 and signed the free agent to a $330 million deal. over 13 years. They traded for Realmuto in 2019. They signed NL home run champion Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos to free agent deals this season. And they made trade time deals this year for Game 4 starter Noah Syndergaard and outfielder Brandon Marsh. Marsh hit a three-run home run in Game 4.

“It’s one thing to think you can win. It’s another thing to win when you know you can win,” a drenched Middleton said in the clubhouse. “When a team comes together like that, it’s a very powerful force.”

Middleton and the Phillies give a lot of credit to Thomson, who became just the fourth manager in major league history to take charge of a team at least seven games under .500 and lead it to the playoffs. Thomson, the first Canadian-born coach to lead a playoff team, went 65-46 to finish the season.

“I don’t think any of us are shocked at where we are,” Harper said. “We’re really excited about the opportunity that’s in front of us, and we’ve taken every opportunity and tried to seize that. And we’re just thrilled as a club and a group to be able to go and play on the west coast.


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