PHILADELPHIA -- All of Philadelphia knew how important Saturday's start was for Jamie Moyer. Especially his 5-year-old son, McCabe. Driving home from Citizens Bank Park on Friday night, McCabe offered to help his father prepare to face the Nationals the next day.
"'Daddy, we need to go home and we need to play catch so you can have some good throws tomorrow,'" Moyer recalled his son saying during the drive. "So we went home and we played catch with the Wiffle Ball." The 45-year-old was able to rise to the occasion, delivering six innings of one-run ball in the Phillies' division-clinching, 4-3 win over the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park Saturday afternoon. But Moyer rising to an occasion is nothing new in Philadelphia. He did the exact same thing last year, when he took the ball on the last day of the 2007 season and lifted the Phils to the National League East division title. "He's the go-to guy," pitcher Cole Hamels said. "You can't count him out. Experience does add to everything, especially in big games." Whether they've been crucial September contests or early April games, the formula has been the same all season for Moyer: Provide a rock-steady six or seven innings, hand his bullpen a lead and leave the ball park with the win. The results have spoken for themselves. Moyer's win on Saturday afternoon was his 16th, which leads the team. Moyer became the second pitcher to win 16 games at age 45, joining the Yankees' Phil Niekro (16-8 in 1984). By now, Moyer is used to fielding questions about how he remains so successful at his age. "When I sign a contract, I'm telling the organization I feel like I can do my job, and I have a responsibility to come here and prepare each and every day and to prepare at my best," Moyer said in the Phillies' champagne-soaked clubhouse. "Some days it's good enough, some days it's not good enough. When it's not good enough, I need to go back to the grind stone and try to figure it out. And when it's good enough, I need to figure out why and try to create some consistency." On Saturday, it was plenty good enough. Moyer retired eight of the first nine Washington hitters he faced and did not allow a run until an Anderson Hernandez double plated Roger Bernadina in the fifth. Moyer faced his only serious threat in the sixth, when Ryan Zimmerman and Lastings Milledge led off with consecutive singles. Moyer bounced back to retire the next three hitters and received a wild ovation when he got Wil Nieves to miss a 1-2 slider to end the inning. "I'm enjoying it," Moyer said. "This is a lot of fun. It's a great opportunity. How odd is it that I get the same team two years in a row in the same situation? But it's worked out for us two years in a row." Moyer is hoping it keeps working out the same way in the playoffs. He'll probably want to keep throwing the Wiffle Ball with his son on the nights before starts. "He has good command for a 5-year-old," Moyer said. "And he's left-handed. So he has a chance."
Kevin Horan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.