11 years, 132 months, 577 weeks, 4,037 days, and seven losing seasons later, the Phillies are back in the Major League Baseball playoffs.
In 2011, Roy Halladay pitched a complete game shutout against the Astros to lead the Phillies to their fifth consecutive postseason berth; they would clinch the National League East three days later.
21-year-old Jose Altuve in his rookie year was the starting second baseman for Houston, who had played to a lackluster 51-98 record to that point in the season. The Phillies went on to win 102 games that year, the most for a single season in franchise history.
In 2022, things look a bit different. Philadelphia has inched their way to the finish line, and were supplied some help by the Miami Marlins, who took three of four from the Milwaukee Brewers, also competing for the final NL Wild Card spot.
The Astros, meanwhile, have the best record in the American League at 104-56, clinched a postseason berth on Sept. 16, and Altuve is now a 12-year MLB veteran.
Yet with their magic number at one following Sunday's 8-1 win against Washington, the Phillies headed to Houston on the brink of becoming the final NL team in the playoffs.
While much has changed since 2011, a few things remained the same: the Phillies clinched a spot in the postseason against the Astros on the heels of a brilliant outing from their ace.
Indeed, Aaron Nola delivered a gem on Monday night, tossing 6.2 scoreless frames and striking out nine batters. He did not allow a baserunner until the seventh inning, and threw just 88 pitches—66 of which were for strikes. Kyle Schwarber put the Phillies on top 1-0 with a first-pitch, leadoff home run in the first inning, and then went back-to-back with Bryson Stott in the eighth to make it 3-0.
It was encouraging to see such a stellar start from Nola against one of the best offenses in baseball ahead of the Wild Card series. José Alvarado pitched 1.1. scoreless innings, and Zach Eflin—the second longest-tenured Phillie—poetically ushered the Phillies into the postseason, closing the door on a 3-0 shutout of the Astros.
Finally, after 11 long years, Red October is back in Philadelphia.
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