Phils' pitching, experience too much for Reds
Stellar Philadelphia rotation the big difference in sweep
CINCINNATI -- This wasn't the first time Dusty Baker could remember one team blowing away the competition with an incredible combination of pitching and poise.
But Baker acknowledged after Sunday's 2-0 season-ending loss in Game 3 of the NLDS that he hadn't seen it in about four decades. That's just how special these Philadelphia Phillies are, and the Reds skipper knew all he could do was pay them the supreme compliment of grouping them with one of the most revered teams in baseball history -- the 1969-71 Baltimore Orioles.
"It's been a long time, probably so far back as the Baltimore Orioles, maybe when they had [Jim] Palmer, [Dave] McNally and [Mike] Cuellar [and Pat] Dobson, when those guys pitched," Baker said. "I mean, they really pitched. They're a very good team. We kept 'em in the ballpark, so to speak, kept the runs down. We just didn't push across enough runs."
Cole Hamels authored the second shutout by the Phillies in the NLDS, holding the Reds to just five hits in the series-clinching win at Great American Ball Park.
"You know, pitching is the key, and they threw three excellent pitchers against us," Baker said of the trio of Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Hamels. "We pitched well today, but Hamels pitched better. You know, it's a tough pill to swallow when you work so hard from Spring Training to get to this point. And you know you achieve one goal and you're trying to achieve another goal."
That initial goal was winning the NL Central, which Baker's Reds did by winning 91 games and beating out the favored Cardinals by five games over the 162-game season. But over three games, these Reds just didn't have the firepower to compete.
"It is what it is," Baker said. "And they're a very good club. You know, they're going to be tough to beat, especially when they're throwing that pitching at you like that."
Bronson Arroyo knows what it means to have poise and command in the playoffs, having pitched on the 2004 World Series champion Red Sox.
"The longer you play, the longer you're in the game, the longer you can play in the postseason and the more times you get to the postseason, you get more comfortable in your skin, no different than breaking into the big leagues," Arroyo said.
"Those guys definitely felt at home and content even being behind, 4-0, in Game 2 to just chip away at the lead and do what they do, which is win a lot of ballgames late in the game. They have a lot of guys who have done that year in and year out, and it's kind of hard to take that swagger out of a ballclub."
Drew Stubbs, like Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Paul Janish, Edinson Volquez, Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey and Aroldis Chapman, was making his postseason debut at the start of the series. The Reds just picked the wrong team at the wrong time.
"They're all a bunch of veteran guys who've had postseason experience," Stubbs said. "They've been to the playoffs for the last four years, so this is just another year for them. This is a special year for a lot of us -- being the first time. Not that we handled the environment badly, we just got outplayed for three games.
"I think the veteran leadership they had top to bottom, not just a couple of guys, everybody they had a on their team, had been through it before and they were able to come through again."
Mike Petraglia is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.