Spraying champagne in the visitors’ clubhouse after completing the first postseason sweep in franchise history was merely a ritual for the Philadelphia Phillies.
They won’t really celebrate unless they win the World Series.
“We haven’t accomplished anything. It’s not about getting to an NLCS, it’s winning a World Series,’’ first baseman Ryan Howard said.
The Phillies moved a step closer toward becoming the first NL team in 66 years to win three consecutive pennants by beating Cincinnati in three straight games in the Division Series. Now they’ll face San Francisco in the NL Championship Series. Game 1 is Saturday at Citizens Bank Park.
Since losing to the Yankees in six games in last year’s World Series, the Phillies have been determined to get back and win the title for the second time in three years. Nothing less is acceptable for an organization that used to be known for losing — the Phillies have lost more games than any team in pro sports.
But that’s in the past. This club is potentially in the middle of a dynasty. The Phillies have captured four straight NL East titles, they won the World Series in 2008, and are four wins from their third pennant in a row.
That’s why players treated Sunday night’s series-clinching 2-0 victory over the Reds like an ordinary game. They shook hands on the field, exchanged some high-fives, chest bumps, and fist pumps, then kept the party low-key in the locker room.
“We’re looking to validate the season. We want to win the World Series,’’ shortstop Jimmy Rollins said.
With Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels anchoring the pitching staff, Philadelphia is favored to win another championship. Halladay and Hamels were dominant against the Reds. They’ll have plenty of rest before starting again.
Halladay opened the first round by throwing the second no-hitter in postseason history in his playoff debut. Oswalt followed up with a so-so effort by his standards. Hamels then finished it off with his first career postseason shutout.
Pirates, Gibbons talk
Former Blue Jays manager John Gibbons
interviewed for the Pirates’ managerial job. Gibbons, the Royals’ bench coach, follows former Indians manager Eric Wedge
and former Arizona and Florida coach Bo Porter
in interviewing. The Pirates fired John Russell
Oct. 4, a day after completing a 105-loss season. Gibbons has a much different personality than Russell, who rarely showed anger or argued calls. Gibbons had a much-publicized run-in in Toronto with designated hitter Shea Hillenbrand
and confronted Ted Lilly
in a dugout runway after the pitcher became upset at being removed from a game. Gibbons was 305-305 in Toronto from 2004-08, including an 87-75 record in 2006. He was replaced by Cito Gaston
midway through the 2008 season . . . The Cubs said pitching coach Larry Rothschild
exercised his option for next season. Rothschild completed his ninth season in Chicago, where he has worked with managers Don Baylor
, Bruce Kimm
, Dusty Baker
, and Lou Piniella
. The status of interim manager Mike Quade
, who took over after Piniella retired, has not been announced. The Cubs were 13th in the NL with a 4.18 ERA after ranking among the top five the previous three seasons and issued a league-high 605 walks. Their bullpen had the second-highest ERA in the NL at 4.55, while the starters were ninth at 4.00.
Surgery for Cuddyer
Twins outfielder Michael Cuddyer
said he will have arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in the offseason. The knee has bothered him all season, but he only missed five games while filling in for the injured Justin Morneau
at first base. Cuddyer hit .271 with 14 homers and 81 RBIs. He didn’t mention the injury during the season and said it didn’t affect his play. Cuddyer’s home run total is the lowest he’s had in a full season since 2005 . . . The Rays removed tarps from the upper level of Tropicana Field, which will make approximately 5,000 more seats — some with obstructed views — available for tonight’s Game 5 of the AL Division Series against Texas.
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