HOUSTON -- After the Phillies swept the St. Louis Cardinals in the wild-card series three weeks ago, Rob Thomson, bottle of bubbly in hand, stood in front of his team and said, "Eleven more."
It seemed almost absurd to think that the team that struggled so much in September and barely made the postseason as the sixth and final seed in the National League could win 11 more games and be crowned World Series champions.
After Friday night's dramatic, 6-5, win over the Houston Astros in Game 1 of the World Series, the number is down to three.
Three more wins and the Phils are World Series champions.
Let's take a look at a few of the key moments in the Game 1 win.
Justin Verlander had a 5-0 lead after three innings. His Hall of Fame resume says he should lock that baby down and take it to the bank.
But, as Phillies third baseman Alec Bohm pointed out after the game, "Everybody's human."
Verlander proved to be that in the top of the fourth when the Phillies got some baserunners, got him in the stretch and rallied for three to get back in the game.
Rhys Hoskins, Bryce Harper, Nick Castellanos and Bohm all had hits in the inning. All but Hoskins' came with two outs. Castellanos' single scored a run and Bohm's double scored two.
None of this happens if Verlander snares a line drive right back to the box by J.T. Realmuto. Verlander had the ball in his glove. All he had to do was catch it and throw to first to double off Hoskins and end the inning.
Verlander appeared to peek at Hoskins and ended up dropping the ball, literally and figuratively. He had to settle for one out at first base and the Phillies rallied for three confidence-building runs after that.
"I was out," Hoskins said. "Sometimes you've got to get the bounces."
Bohm added, "Looking back, any game 1 through 162, there's little things that happen that change the course of the game. You take your breaks when you can get them and you keep moving."
The Phils have had lots of them this month -- starting with their six-run ninth inning in the postseason opener in St. Louis when Cardinals All-Star closer Ryan Helsley couldn't throw strikes -- and they've capitalized.
After giving up three in the fourth, Verlander gave up two more runs in the fifth on a game-tying double by Realmuto. The Phillies came all the way back on the pitcher who led the American League in wins (18), ERA (1.75) and WHIP (0.83).
"We never panicked," Bohm said of the Phillies' early 5-0 deficit. "We're not looking at numbers at that point, we're competing. If we're sitting there saying, 'Verlander's on the mound, we don't have a chance,' why are we even here? We were confident. We felt fine. It's either we do, or we don't, so we might as well think we're going to. Whenever we get down, I feel like we're going to come back."
Bohm's improvement at third base has been amazing this season. He's gone from skittish and tentative to confident and difference-making in the field.
Bobby Dickerson, the best infield coach this side of Larry Bowa, has had a lot to do with that. He works with Bohm every day on every play you can imagine a third baseman might see.
One presented itself with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning. The game was tied at 5-5. Two runners were on base behind Zach Eflin. Martín Maldonado stroked a ball toward the third base line. Tough play. Bohm made it look easy, snaring it on the run with a backhand stab and throwing across the diamond on the run as his body reached foul territory. Bohm had the presence of mind to know that Maldonado, Houston's catcher, was slow-footed, so he bounced a firm one-hopper to first baseman Hoskins.
Huge play. Not sure if Bohm makes it in April. But this is October and he's a different player.
"To be honest, I make that play five, 10 times a day with Bobby so I felt pretty comfortable grabbing it and throwing it on the run," Bohm said.
Almost everything that manager Rob Thomson has touched this season, and especially this month, has turned into a winning lottery ticket.
Managing like there's no tomorrow, Thomson used one of his biggest bullpen bullets when he went to Jose Alvarado in the fifth inning against Yordan Alvarez, the Astros' slugger who hit .306 with 37 homers and 97 RBIs during the regular season. Alvarado won the lefty-lefty matchup. Two innings later, Ranger Suarez won a lefty-lefty matchup on Alvarez. Clearly, Thomson is staying away from Brad Hand. Suarez was the presumed Game 3 starter. He still might make that start, but Thomson was not going to avoid using him in Game 1. Win today, worry about tomorrow tomorrow is Thomson's approach and just might have him riding down Broad Street in a week or so.
"I thought when Rob brought Alvarado in that early in the game in that big of a spot, I thought that was kind of the key in the game," Realmuto said. "We had just scored those runs. We had come back, tied the ball game. And he even said on the mound, he's like, 'This is the earliest I've ever brought him in, but these outs are huge right here. We have the momentum on our side, we need to get these outs against three of their toughest hitters.' I thought that was huge. Not all managers would bring one of their best guys in that early in the game. And he just pushed all the right buttons from there and the guys responded. Everybody that we brought in threw the ball well."
The bullpen pitched 5⅔ scoreless innings.
"The bullpen is the reason we won this game today," Realmuto said.
There were other reasons the Phillies won and one of them was Castellanos making a sliding catch on a shallow fly ball to right by Jeremy Peña with a runner on second and two outs in the bottom of the ninth.
If Castellanos doesn't make the play -- game over, Astros win. It was just like the catch he made in Game 1 of the NLDS in Atlanta. A gamesaver.
"Eerily similar," Bohm said. "But I knew he had a chance because we were playing close with the winning run on second. Normally, that ball would drop and score the run."
The best catcher in baseball. Ultimately, he was the biggest reason the Phillies won this one. He had a game-tying double in the fifth against Verlander and a solo homer in the top of the 10th against Luis Garcia to put the Phillies ahead.
Not since Carlton Fisk in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series had a catcher homered in extra innings of a postseason game.
Remember Bryce Harper's go-ahead two-run homer in the eighth inning of Sunday's NLCS clincher? (How could anyone forget.) Realmuto set the table with a base hit.
In the dugout before the top of the 10th began, Harper turned to Realmuto and suggested the pair combine for some more October heroics.
Harper laughed telling the story in the postgame clubhouse.
"It's funny," he said. "We were sitting there before that at-bat and I said, 'Hey, let's do this again,' J.T. said, 'Why not.' And then he decided to hit the homer and I hit the single. We'll take it."
Oh, yes, they will.
The Phils are 4-0 in Game 1s this postseason. All the wins have come on the road.
Zack Wheeler gets the ball Saturday night as the Phils try to turn "Three more" into "Two more."