Way back in the early days of spring training, when the Phillies were uncertain of Chase Utley’s status, Ryan Howard said he believed that the role players would rise to the occasion. He also said that some surprising guys would emerge.

“We all get hurt,” Howard said. “Just look at last season. We have faith in those guys [subs]. I think we have a deep club with a lot of character. Whatever success we have this season, it’s not just going to be due to the guys you expect to have great seasons. At the end of the season, you’ll see key contributions from many different guys.”

Howard is an oracle since the Phillies have received significant help from a number of players, who were question marks entering the season.

Antonio Bastardo was an erratic reliever before emerging as a lights-out option. Bastardo has been the key element to an oft-injured bullpen, which has had four closers.

 

“You can’t say enough about Antonio,” Ryan Madson said. “He’s done it all. If you need a save, he’ll get it. If you need an inning-plus of shutdown pitching, he’ll give that to you. He’s been incredible.”

Vance Worley has also excelled as the Phillies’ fifth starter with Joe Blanton on the shelf for most of the season. The big, confident hurler is in the mix for Rookie of the Year.

“I didn’t want to see Joe get hurt, but it’s been a great opportunity and I’ve tried to make the most of it,” Worley said. “It’s great to just to help this team out in any way I can. I worked out of the bullpen earlier in the season, and had no problem with that, but I love starting.”

John Mayberry Jr. has finally come into his own and is the club’s fourth outfielder. He may even platoon with Raul Ibanez for the postseason run.

“I always knew Mayberry had the ability,” Charlie Manuel said. “He’s showing it and he’s getting bats.”

Phillies add to history yet again

The firsts keep coming for this historic Phillies team.

The team clinched their fifth straight NL East title in the 150th game of the season Saturday night, following a 9-2 win over St. Louis. It is the earliest the Phils have won a division crown in franchise history.

Ryan Howard, Hunter Pence and several other Phillies stars celebrated by spraying champagne and beer on each other in the locker room, before heading out to soak some fans.

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