The Phillies were seemingly done two days ago, or at least, the Phillies were on the verge of making 1964 a talking point. The Phillies were struggling to clinch the NL East, the Braves were coming fast, and the Phillies’ road to the World Series looked very ugly. But for the Phillies, two days is all it takes to make Philadelphia feel confident again. Since the Phillies actually remembered they should beat teams like the Astros, another NL East title is finally in the bag. And not only that, the Phillies might actually still have something to play for this regular season – though the Phillies’ need to rest people might get in the way.
The Phillies’ 10-3 win over the Astros clinched the NL East – although technically, it was clinched when the Braves lost to the Marlins one minute before the Phillies’ game ended. But there was still a celebration anyway, albeit a tiny one by comparison.
The Phillies still have the bullpen controversies to deal with, the up-and-down starting rotation, and even more troubling questions on who gets the number 4 starting spot. But with two wins over the Astros, and a playoff spot finally locked up, things can be dealt with a little easier. And at long last, the real important issue of home field can finally be talked about.
Two days ago, the Phillies looked to have no chance to catch the Dodgers, and looked like they would be all too lucky to beat the Cardinals for second. But because of the NL East troubles, few people cared about that race, and how losing any home field would put the Phillies in a massive hole they didn’t look likely to escape from. Yet in just 48 hours, all that has changed.
The Cardinals have taken their foot off the gas, and have lost two straight to the Reds. Therefore, the Phillies are up by two over the Cardinals with four games left, and own the tiebreaker. Just two more wins in four games will give the Phillies second in the National League, at worst, and give them much better odds to go through the playoffs.
But the Dodgers have given the Phillies even more help, by limping into the playoffs even worse than they have. Two straight losses to the Padres have cut the Dodgers home field lead to a half-game, and they are mercifully off today. Though Charlie Manuel must start resting people, he must take into account that the Phillies can tie for the NL’s best record with a win tonight.
Unfortunately, the Phillies would lose a tiebreaker to the Dodgers – which they wouldn’t have if Brad Lidge had saved either the June 5 or June 6 heartbreaking losses at LA. Thanks to that, if the Phillies lose tonight, they are one game back and need to win two more games than the Dodgers on the last weekend.
But a win tonight means they just need to win one more game than the Dodgers in the last weekend, which is much easier. At the least, the city is now ready to talk about these possibilities – and may not have to face the nightmare scenario of losing any home field.
Manuel will also spend the next week figuring out the back of his starting rotation. Pedro Martinez didn’t make a good case last night, going only 4 innings. But they may need Martinez to start so J.A. Happ can go to the bullpen and give them another closer option – despite Happ having more wins than anyone currently in the rotation.
Associated Press- “Phillies clinch their third straight NL East title” www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jpuV3pJuGXC4pdryBNBGJDB2EGfQD9B296DO1
Philadelphia Metro- “Phils want home field” www.metro.us/us/article/2009/10/01/09/3248-82/index.xml