It never gets old winning division titles when you have new guys on the team. Hunter Pence was doused with champagne minutes after the Phillies beat the Cardinals 9-2 Saturday night and clinched their fifth consecutive NL East crown.
The long, lanky rightfielder, acquired from the Houston Astros in July, received an endless shower of bubbly in the Phillies clubhouse.
“This is amazing,” Pence said “This is like a dream come true but I did put a lot of work into what I do and now I have the chance to celebrate.”
Chase Utley cracked a smile as Pence was drenched by teammates. “It’s great for the new guys to experience this,” Utley said. “It’s fun to watch them (Pence, Michael Stutes) enjoy this. But we’ve just taken one step with more steps to go.”
Roy Oswalt, who earned the win pitching seven shutout innings, hopes to be able to help the team take even more significant games in October.
“That’s what I would like to do,” Oswalt said. “This was pretty special for me since I missed two months with back issues. I’m healthy now and I feel good. Hopefully the team and myself will get rolling into the playoffs and have a great deal of success there. We’re just getting started. This isn’t our ultimate goal. We want to win the World Series.”
The next step starts in October. In the meantime, the Phillies, who clinched the NL East in just 150 games, the earliest in team history, have a dozen games to play before the post-season begins.
“I think that’s a really good thing,” Cliff Lee said. “Some guys will get some well deserved rest but we’ll also play enough to stay sharp. I would rather be in our position than in another team’s position, trying to get into the playoffs the last few days of the season.
Is this what Lee envisioned when he spurned the Yankees for the Phillies in the off-season? “I expected this and more,” Lee said. “I think it’s only going to get more interesting.”