It was December 14th, 2010. Cliff Lee was officially a member of the Philadelphia Phillies. The press conference with GM Ruben Amaro Jr sealed the deal, and Lee would join arguably the best rotation in baseball history. This rotation consisted of Roy Halladay, 2008 World Series MVP Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt. If you want to know the fifth pitcher, it was Vance Worley for the most part of the year, who was steady enough to be a #3 on most other clubs. Imagine all the hype for the season. With a team that won 4 straight NL East titles, the sky was the limit. The funny thing is, this potential championship squad, didn't come close to lifting the world series trophy come Fall.
It is finally Opening day, and the 2011 Phillies are walking into Citizens Bank Park with all the confidence in the world. Expectations were high following a 3 game sweep of the Astros at Citizens Bank Park. So far so good. The Phillies would finish out April with an 18-8 record. There didn't seem to be any problems. May was quite the contrary. They went 16-13 in May. Most of the losses were due to no run support. Looking at the box scores in May, you could see a lot of 3 and 4's with 0's sprinkled in. For an insane lineup led by multiple all stars still in their prime, this was concerning. They only scored 10 runs twice in the month of May.
The month of June didn't calm Phillies fans concerns about their hitting woes. They only had one 10 run outburst. However, they did have a seven game win streak, so that's a positive. They finished the month of June with a 17-10 record. This sounds good, but the hitting really was suffering. They scored a meager 102 runs in June. That was the fewest run total in any month for the Phillies. Luckly, July was a better month for the Fightin' Phils. They went up to Toronto, and took 2 of 3 from the Jays in an emotional return for Roy Halladay. The Phillies won 7 of 8 series they played in July. On top of that, the Phillies did not lose a game from July 29th to August 6th. They would end with an 18 and 7 in August, their best monthly record of the year. They also had acquired Hunter Pence during the trade deadline. But, even though they eventually clinched the division for the fifth straight year on September 17th, they then proceeded to go on a 8 game losing streak, finally snapped with a 9-4 victory over the Mets. They finished strong with a club best 102-60 record despite the awful 16-14 record in September. By all accounts, they were poised to make a deep playoff run.
The Phillies would face the Cardinals in a thrilling 5 game series. Game 1 went to the Phillies by a score of 11-6. Then, Cliff Lee was gifted a 4-0 lead early in Game 2, but blew it by gifting the Cardinals 5 runs back including 3 in the 4th, 1 in the 6th, and another in the 7th. The Phillies eventually lost Game 2 by a score of 5-4. The Phillies regained a 2-1 series lead by beating the Cardinals on the road thanks in part to Ben Francisco's pinch hit 3 run homerun in the 7th inning. Game 4 was a different outcome. The Phillies could only muster 7 hits in a 5-3 loss in St Louis setting up a deciding 5th game in Philly.
The stage was set for Game 5. Two best friends on the mound facing each other in the biggest game of each of their respective careers. It was Halladay vs Chris Carpenter. Halladay allowed a run in the first after a lead-off triple by Rafael Furcal, who later scored off an RBI double from Skip Schumaker. That proved to be the only run of the game. The Phillies mustered only 3 hits in a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. Ryan Howard added salt to the wound by tearing his Achilles on the final out of the game. He tore it by running out a lightly hit grounder to second base. The Cardinals, seeing Howard on the ground hurt, took their time making the out at first base to officially end the ballgame. Howard's injury only added to the heartbreak. The Phillies started off the season with such high expectations, only to fall short of the promise land.
This proved to be the end of the Phillies dynasty, and we have seen the Phils in a rebuild ever since. The following year, the Phillies were a worn down, past their prime, shell of their former selves. The dream of multiple championships for this core of players was over. Nine years later, Phillies fans continue to wait to see their team lift another World Series trophy.