Pop that champagne, Philadelphia.
Roy Oswalt fanned seven batters and scattered five hits over seven dominant innings Saturday night at Citizens Bank Park as the Phillies topped St. Louis 9-2 and locked up their fifth consecutive National League East title in front of a sold-out home crowd.
Jimmy Rollins went 4-for-5 with two runs scored, Shane Victorino tallied three RBI, and Raul Ibanez hit a grand slam as the Phillies cruised past a Cardinals club that has been trying to fight its way into the Wild Card mix. The Cardinals still face an uphill battle. For the Phillies, it’s time to celebrate.
The division title is the 11th in franchise history, and this 2011 team is up to 98 wins with 12 games to play.
If the season were to end tonight, Philadelphia would be facing an NLDS matchup with the Diamondbacks.
For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:
The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).
It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: