PHILADELPHIA – Roy Halladay came to Philadelphia to pitch in October, knowing the regular season was a necessary formality.
Halladay’s first trip to the postseason last year was quite a memorable one, though it ended in bitter disappointment. The two-time Cy Young Award winner, his teammates and just about everyone else in Philadelphia expects the Phillies to win the World Series this time around.
First, they have to beat the red-hot St. Louis Cardinals in the N.L. division series. Game 1 is today at Citizens Bank Park, with Halladay opposing Kyle Lohse.
“I know you play 162 games and you get to this point,” Halladay said. But “this is the fun part. We’re looking forward to it. Obviously, the ultimate goal is to win a World Series,” and he added the team would “be disappointed if we didn’t win it all.”
The Phillies and Cardinals took different paths to get here.
Led by their Four Aces, the Phillies cruised to their fifth straight N.L. East title, winning a franchise- record and major league-best 102 games.
The Cardinals, who won six of nine against the Phillies during the regular season, needed an incredible collapse by Atlanta and help from Philadelphia to earn the wild card. St. Louis trailed the Braves by 10 1/2 games on Aug. 25, but went 23-8 the rest of the way and got in after Game 162 when the Phillies completed a three-game sweep of Atlanta.
“They are very good,” Phils manager Charlie Manuel said. “They’re playing good, especially the last two or three weeks, and without a doubt, we’ve got our work cut out.”