For the first time this season, the Philadelphia Phillies swept the Atlanta Braves. And while they did so in a series that really didn’t matter, with players that probably won’t be on the roster next year, this sweep was anything but meaningless.
It was more than just a moral victory as well because while the Braves are going to the postseason, the Phillies can take pride in what they were able to do against the soon-to-be NL East champs.
The series sweep against the Braves is very much a microcosm of what the Phillies had hoped their season could be and what it actually became. It was bookended with two dominant pitching performances, and in the middle fell a walk-off that was needed because of a blown save by the closer.
Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels combined to pitch 16 strong innings, giving up just four combined hits and three earned runs. Together, they struck out 19 batters. Ultimately, this is exactly what the Phillies dreamed up when the 2013 season began.
Hamels, Lee and Roy Halladay were supposed to be the three certainties in the rotation, and each of them were expected to perform to the level Hamels and Lee did against the Braves. Obviously, this hasn’t always been the case this season. Lee and Hamels haven’t often been on at the same time, with Lee better in the first half and Hamels in the second.
Halladay has also been a question mark as he missed most of the season and has yet to really show he is 100 percent recovered from his surgery. But against the Braves, everything the Phillies had hoped for happened. Lee opened the series with a 2-1 victory and Hamels closed it with a 3-2 win.
In between the Lee and Hamels shutdowns was an average start by Kyle Kendrick. The struggling Kendrick gave up just three runs before Jonathan Papelbon allowed two in the ninth for the Braves to tie the game. And while Hamels and Lee were what the Phillies had hoped for, the Papelbon blown save was a more accurate response to what this season has been.
Papelbon’s blown save was his seventh of the year, the highest total for the closer since 2010. He has been very dominant at points this season, but has also been very poor too. Overall, Papelbon’s 2013 can be best described as inconsistent. But ultimately what it comes down to is the win, and the Phillies got it. Freddy Galvis bailed out his closer with a walk-off solo home run.
Beyond the pitching, this series told the story of exactly what the Phillies wanted their offense to be when the 2013 season started and what they will be looking for in 2014 as well. It was the perfect balance of production from the veterans and the newbies alike.
The young guns, Darin Ruf, Galvis and Cody Asche provided the power and four of the Phillies’ 11 runs via the long ball, while Carlos Ruiz, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins combined for three doubles and four runs. Ruf, Galvis, Asche and Cesar Hernandez combined to score four more.
So while the three wins don’t mean anything in terms of the standings or postseason aspirations, this series just served as a reminder that this team is not dead in the water for the future. And if they can play like they did against the Braves, the Phillies can no doubt be competitive in 2014.
Marilee Gallagher is a baseball writer for RantSports.com. You can follow her on Twitter @MGallagher17 like her page on Facebook, or join her network on Google.