Phils help set Division Series road mark
First-round winners all clinch away from home for first time
DENVER -- Call 2009 the year of the silent celebration.
When Phillies closer Brad Lidge struck out Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki to end the National League Division Series at Coors Field on Monday, it marked the first time since the advent of the Wild Card in 1995 that all four Division Series winners clinched on their opponents' home turf.
The other three teams with home-field advantage -- the Yankees, Angels and Dodgers -- all clinched in Game 3s on the road, and the Phillies took their series in a crazy Game 4 that saw the Rockies put up three runs in the bottom of the eighth for a two-run lead before the Phillies, down to their last out, scored three in the ninth for the victory.
As a result, the first round of the 2009 postseason made more history by featuring only 13 Division Series games played, tying 2007 for the lowest first-round total.
Two years ago in Division Series play, the Rockies swept the Phillies, the D-backs swept the Cubs, the Red Sox swept the Angels and the Indians beat the Yankees in four games.
Before Philadelphia completed its road-clinching effort Monday night, six seasons had featured three series winners closing out the first round away from home, with the road trick also being pulled in 1996, '98, '99, 2003, '04 and '07. The Division Series went from a 2-3 format to the current 2-2-1 setup in 1998.
The only time all four division series were clinched at home was in 2001, when the Mariners beat the Indians at Safeco Field, the Yankees finished off the A's in the Bronx, the eventual World Series champion D-backs eliminated the Cardinals at then-Bank One Ballpark, and the Braves ended the Astros' season at Turner Field.
With the first round done and the Phillies now headed to Los Angeles for an NL Championship Series rematch against the Dodgers, the players said they realize the significance of being able to win tough games on the road.
"It just shows the resilience of this team," said slugger Ryan Howard, whose two-out, two-run double in the ninth inning tied the game.
"We know that we're not out of it until the last out is made."
Doug Miller is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.