The Sherwin Williams clock in centerfield at Citizens Bank Park registered 10:10 when the Phillies clinched their fifth straight division crown nd 11th since division play began in 1969.
Players begun hugging to the right of the mound, the clubhouse crew hustled out with postseason hats and division championship jerseys, fireworks filled the air, the Liberty Bell swung back and forth and Phillie Phanatic appeared waving a large while banner with blue lettering, 2011. Another sellout continued standing and cheering. It doesn’t get old.
A baseball season is a grueling grind of 162 games, ups and downs, peaks and valleys. The Phillies took over first place for good on April 27. Winning the division title was a sure thing but until it happens, there’s still the feeling that anything can happen.
Bubbly was everywhere in the clubhouse as the players celebrated. 30 minutes after the game was over, a small group of fans were still in the stands singing High Hopes. Players appeared from the clubhouse to the cheers of those still there. Bastardo and Martinez chased a dry Samuel on the field and finally doused him with the bubbly. Welcome, Sammy.
Roy-O certainly looked like he was ready for the postseason with another brilliant outing by another starter. Trailing 3-0, the Cardinals cut the gap with two in the eighth, but the Phillies put a bigger crooked number on the board in their turn.
While it doesn’t appear in the box score, Chase hustled to second base on Hunter’s grounder to short causing Furcal to double clutch before throwing to first. Hunter was busting all the way and beat the throw. Raul followed with the exclamation point, his ninth career grand slam. Madson closed it out in the ninth and the Phillies did something no other current team has done, win the division five straight years.
Atlanta holds the record for consecutive titles, 14, with the Yankees second at nine. The Phillies and A’s are next, five each.
Twelve more games remain in the regular season. Then, three seasons follow, five games, seven games and seven games. A few more wins and the Phillies will clinch the home field advantage for the entire postseason. With fans as their 10th man, it should be a lot of fun in October when legends are made.
We’re living the greatest era in Phillies history. Enjoy and cherish the ride.