Phils learn lessons of '07 failures vs. Rockies

BY foxsports • October 13, 2009

While the Philadelphia players sprayed champagne in the visiting clubhouse at Coors Field after their 5-4 win Monday over the Rockies to clinch the NLDS, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel had a flashback.

Two years ago, in the same clubhouse, the sounds of silence were deafening for the Phillies. The Phillies had ended a 14-year postseason drought in 2007, putting three consecutive seasons of second-place frustration to rest by claiming the National League East and felt invincible.

Then reality hit. Good as the Phillies thought they were, the Rockies left them in stunned silence after a 2-1 win at Coors Field, as Colorado swept the NL Division Series.

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This time around, it was the Phillies who provided the silencing effect to the sellout crowd at Coors Field and the Rockies. It was the Phillies who not only took three of four from the Rockies, but also won back-to-back games in Coors Field, where the Rockies had not only gone 50-31 during the regular season, but had been 42-18 since Jim Tracy became the manager.

And the irony wasn't lost on Manuel.

"Definitely last year's experience helped our guys," Manuel said of the 2008 world championship the Phillies possess, "but I think it goes back to (2007). The fact they beat us three straight, kind of told us that we weren't quite ready, and that we had to improve mentally and physically.

"My first meeting I have in spring training, we talked about it and it can get a little hot. I'd call guys out and tell them they couldn't be scared. When you get in the moment, if you're scared, you're not going to win. It took us a little while to get over that."

Mission accomplished.

Now the Phillies are on a mission to reinforce what they proved a year ago when they went on an 11-3 postseason run, losing one game in each series while knocking off Milwaukee in the Division Series, the Dodgers in the NLCS and Tampa Bay in the World Series.

They again face the Dodgers in the NLCS starting Thursday at Dodger Stadium.

And there's no reason to doubt the Phillies' ability to get the job done. They are a team with superstars, but it's a team effort that gets the job done. And it is Manuel who is a master at mixing and matching his way through games in a method that at time seems insane, but often proves successful.

Think about Monday's Game 4 Division Series-clinching victory. After seeing Ryan Madson turn a 2-1 eighth-inning lead into a 4-2 deficit, the Phillies not only rallied against Rockies closer Huston Street to take a 5-4 lead in the ninth, but then saw Manuel call on lefty Scott Eyre, who turned his ankle in Game 3 on Sunday, to open the bottom of the ninth.

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