Sunday, September 14, 2008
Of course, when we are talking about the Phillies, no lead seems insurmountable. The Phillies took 4 straight games from the Brewers and vaulted their way to a tie for the Wild Card. In the process, the Phillies have also climbed back to 1 game behind the Mets for the division lead. Now, with 12 games remaining, the playoffs are back in play in a big way for the Phillies.
The Phillies finished off their sweep of the Brewers with a pair of wins in a Sunday doubleheader. In the first game, the Phils got a solid outing from Joe Blanton and then broke a 3-3 tie in the bottom of the 8th by scoring 4 runs to carry them to a 7-3 win. Ryan Howard homered in the 6th inning, his 5th homer in 7 games, and Shane Victorino hit a 3 run shot in the 8th to give the Phillies a big lead to work with.
The second game of the doubleheader was all about Brett Myers. Myers needed only 95 pitches to pitch a complete game 2 hitter and led the Phils to a 6-1 victory. Myers, who pitched on 3 days rest, was efficient as he threw strikes and let his defense do most of the work. 65 of his 95 pitches went for strikes as he coasted to victory.
Things look up again for the Phillies in another topsy-turvy season. With the sweep, they greatly increased their chances of making the playoffs as both the division and the Wild Card are now in their sights. While the Phils have no games left against either the Mets or the Brewers, only 3 of their remaining 12 games are against opponents that are above .500. Here are the schedules of the Phillies and the two teams they are in closest competition with for the playoffs:
Phillies: 3 @ Braves, 3 @ Marlins, 3 vs. Braves, 3 vs. Nationals
Mets: 4 @ Nationals, 3 @ Braves, 4 vs. Cubs, 3 vs.
Marlins Brewers: 3 @ Cubs, 3 @ Reds, 3 vs. Pirates, 3 vs. Cubs
The hardest schedule amongst those three is the Brewers slate, as they have to play the Cubs 6 more times. The Mets schedule is slightly tougher than the Phils because they have to play the Cubs while the Phils get 6 against a weak Braves team. The Mets also have two more games than the others and no days off.
With 12 games left, the Phillies are right where they want to be. They have to keep playing hot and they don't have to rely on someone to take a nosedive for them to get into the playoffs. The next two weeks should be very exciting!