Originally written on Buzz On Broad  |  Last updated 6/29/14

At some point tonight, the regular-season Phillies became the playoff Phillies. It’s not certain when it happened exactly -- whether it was a slow metamorphosis or an instantaneous change. It could have been right after Skip Schumaker singled to lead off the second inning, becoming the last Cardinals batter to reach base against Roy Halladay. It could have been when Jimmy Rollins singled to lead off the sixth, or when Ryan Howard let loose on a 3-2 change-up and put the Phillies ahead for good.

Either way, it was clear that the Phillies that stood on the field as Lance Berkman launched a three-run shot to right field in the first inning were not the same Phillies who trotted off the diamond nine innings later. The change was most likely led by Doc Halladay, the coolest of cool in a dugout known for its even temper. Giving up three runs in the top of the first inning might have been a huge hit to many pitchers, but Halladay dug in and retired 21 straight after that Schumaker single.

Halladay was so good that he didn’t allow a single ball out of the infield -- not a pop-up, line drive, nor fly ball -- between the 2nd and 8th innings. He was so good that by the time he departed after the 8th inning, the Phillies faithful had forgotten about the three runs he’d given up.

When Shane Victorino singled in the fourth, scoring Chase Utley and making it 3-1, one could sense that the Phillies had a weight lifted off their shoulders. When Howard came to bat in the 6th inning with two men on and one out, there was a feeling out there on the shoulders of Kyle Lohse: vulnerability. For the first time since the first inning, the Phillies were really back in the playoffs, and the crowd was back on its feet.

As important as that Howard home run was, I would argue that it wasn’t the most critical of the game. Yes, the Big Piece put the Phillies ahead, though when the Cardinals scored a few runs in the 9th those go-ahead runs turned out not to be the game-winners. The real dagger was the pile-on, the additional runs that said “the Phillies are back.” Those came two batters later, following a Victorino single. That batter was Raul Ibanez.

Why Raul? If any Phillies hitter needed to bust out in the postseason, it was Ibanez. He’ll always be beloved in Philadelphia for his playing style, his attitude and his talents even at an advanced age, but it was clear that “Uuuuul” had struggled this season. If the Phillies were going to win the World Series, the Mayberry/Ibanez platoon was going to have to deliver from the sixth position in the lineup.

When Ibanez hit a home run of his own to right field, he was no longer the Raul that Phillies fans had watched struggle every other month this season. He wasn’t the Raul who hit .211 in June and .210 in August, the Raul whose swing seemed to get longer and slower with each passing at-bat. Instead, he was the left-handed power bat the Phillies added from Seattle, the Raul Ibanez who could be a part of a World Series championship team.

I’m not going to suggest that this win guarantees any Phillies title, any more than their winning 102 games in the regular season did. This was just 1/11th of the final journey--and not even that, as each step will get harder and harder. The pitching will be there, but whether or not the bats will deliver is still up in the air.

For a night, the 2008 Phillies were back on the field, scoring runs and holding on for dear life before their closer shut the door. Obviously the 2011 Phillies are older but improved in areas -- a team that could potentially hit, but one that doesn’t need to score 11 runs every game. Is it possible for Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and company to think for a few weeks that they’re a few years younger? It certainly seemed like it tonight.

Josh Verlin is the lead columnist for BuzzOnBroad.com. He can be found on Twitter @jmverlin

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

MLBPA reacts to Kris Bryant's minor league assignment

Gregg Marshall's show canceled, Bama speculation grows

Report: Shaka Smart in discussions with Texas

Report: Rick Barnes expected to land at Tennessee

Demaryius Thomas planning to skip Broncos' workouts

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Rockets GM: We think we can win NBA title despite injuries

Browns GM Ray Farmer suspended over text messages

Aaron Hernandez's fiancee disposed of box after murder

Byron Scott: Opposing players say they want to play for Lakers

Falcons reportedly will lose pick over pumping in crowd noise

Report: Sam Bradford wouldn't sign extension with Browns

10 winners and losers from the past week in the NFL

University of California soccer player found dead

Joe Namath parties with twin 100 year-old women

WATCH: Mike Napoli hits home run as bat shatters

WATCH: Marc Gasol misses shot, rips jersey in disgust

PHOTO: Minor league team to wear Jabba the Hutt jerseys

Lions LB DeAndre Levy takes ride on top of a moving plane

Colts owner addresses Indiana religious freedom bill

John Calipari addresses controversial ND comments

Arizona coach Sean Miller rips critics: 'Go cheer for ASU'

Report: NFL could push extra point back to 15-yard line

Urban Meyer: 'No issue' with Braxton Miller's Instagram post

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

10 winners and losers from the past week in the NFL

Namath parties with 100 yr-old women

Report: Shaka Smart talking to Texas

Rick Barnes to land at Tennessee?

Browns GM suspended for texts

Hernandez's fiancee disposed of box

Mayweather-Pacquiao: It's sparring tall-tale season

The MLBPA has a problem

Final Four preview: Can every team win?

Full WrestleMania 31 recap and results

Why Texas had to fire Rick Barnes

Craig Sager's leukemia has returned

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.