BOSTON -- Rays manager Joe Maddon did not watch all of Game 5 of the National League Championship Series, but he saw enough to be impressed by the Phillies, who are heading to their first World Series since 1993.
"They played really well," Maddon said. "I didn't see the whole game last night, I saw part of it. They pitched really well. They got the big hit."
Maddon referred back to Spring Training, when the Rays played the Phillies, who conduct Spring Training in Clearwater, Fla. The teams met four times in the spring and Maddon liked their lineup.
"Just seeing them in Spring Training, my impression of them was that they were more like an American League lineup," Maddon said. "I thought their offense, they could pound the ball up and down the lineup. I was really impressed with that. I've always been a big fan of their MVP guys, but I liked [outfielder Shane] Victorino also. He made a big impression on me in Spring Training, Victorino.
"The thing I didn't know about them is how good their pitching was. You look at their bullpen, and of course, [Brad] Lidge doing what he's done this year has been spectacular. But they're very solid all throughout. They're a good ballclub."
Maddon is a native of Hazelton, Pa., but was not a Phillies fan.
"Actually, I used to listen to ... Richie Ashburn and all those guys [on the radio], but [former Phillies manager] Gene Mauch got to me," Maddon said. "He is one of my favorite baseball people of all time. But I grew up a Cardinal fan. And I went down to see the Cardinals play the Phillies on several occasions, got a bunch of autographs. I actually have Tito Francona's autograph in the Cardinal yearbook, from the '64 Cardinals, I believe."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.