Phils clinch third straight NL East crown
Back in playoffs, club prepares to defend '08 Series title
PHILADELPHIA -- Jimmy Rollins thought a lot about Harry Kalas the night before the Phillies clinched their third consecutive National League East championship.
He thought about how much Kalas would have loved this.
"We get to Broad Street again, you'll see HK's jacket and shoes on my back and feet," Rollins said on the field following Wednesday night's 10-3 victory over the Astros at Citizens Bank Park. "There is no doubt about it. When we're going down Broad Street, if it happens again, believe me, I will be rocking it."
The Phillies have had Kalas' trademark baby blue sport coat and white shoes in their dugout throughout the season to honor the legendary broadcaster, who died in the broadcast booth at Nationals Park in April. In years past, Kalas would have taken the microphone and sang "High Hopes" as the team and fans celebrated a trip to the postseason.
But the Phillies still made Kalas part of the celebration. They ran to the HK memorial sign on the left-field wall to toast the man who called so many infamous moments in Phillies history.
Will Rollins really get a chance to don the jacket and shoes?
It will be tough. It already has been.
"It's been rougher this year," Rollins said. "Everyone was gunning for us. The last couple years, we were kind of the dark horse. We were right there, but we were never in the lead. We were trailing and catching up at the end. But winning a championship, everyone is gunning for us."
The Phillies needed to win just one of their final five games to clinch the NL East, but they wanted to make it happen Wednesday. They need to rest some tired players. They need to get some answers about their bullpen.
But the night started roughly Wednesday as Pedro Martinez, pitching for the first time in 11 days, allowed six hits and three runs in four innings. He didn't pitch great, but he kept the Phillies in the game.
"It's very satisfying to be back and be able to contribute some for this team to win the division," Martinez said. "Hopefully it won't stop here. Hopefully we'll continue on."
The offense came up big. Raul Ibanez went 1-for-2 with one home run and three RBIs. Rollins, who went 2-for-4, and Shane Victorino, who went 2-for-4, hit back-to-back triples in the fifth inning. Seven different players had an RBI.
Right-hander Kyle Kendrick, who spent most of the season in Triple A Lehigh Valley, pitched four scoreless innings in relief. Right-hander Chad Durbin pitched a scoreless eighth. Left-hander Scott Eyre, who had not pitched since Sept. 7 because of a loose body in his left elbow, recorded the first two outs in the ninth.
The crowd roared with anticipation after the second out. The Phillies actually had clinched the division a few minutes earlier when the Marlins beat the Braves in Atlanta, making the Phillies' magic number zero. But that hardly mattered at the Bank because as soon as Eyre got the second out, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel emerged from the dugout.
He wanted Brad Lidge.
"Awesome," Eyre said. "I looked at Charlie and said, 'I'm good with this.' Normally I would have been like, 'Come on!' But he should be on the mound for the last out."
It seemed like the perfect ending. Lidge's struggles have been well documented this season, but Manuel wanted Lidge on the mound, just like he was when the Phillies clinched the World Series last year.
The crowd recognized the moment. It knew what was happening and why it was happening.
It roared with approval.
"That's what I wanted to do," Manuel said. "I wanted him to pitch in front of the crowd. I thought it would be good for him and the crowd and the crowd responded good. It was the ideal situation for me to run him out there. I want to get his confidence back because I know how talented he is. I wanted him pitching in that situation."
Lidge was thankful.
"That was huge," Lidge said. "I was really hoping he would. A lot of guys down there in the bullpen deserve it. The other guys have all done a great job, but I was hoping and praying it would be me tonight. This season has been a grind, no doubt about it. I always felt like it was going to end well, no matter what. I think it's going to. I really believe it will."
That is what the Phillies hope, too.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.