Tagged: Wild Card

Final Countdown to the Playoffs: Game 4: Myers will try to bounce back to lead the team to another series win.

The Phillies (89-69) will play the last game of their three games series with the Braves (70-88) tonight. The game will be played at Citizens Bank Park and will start at 7:05 pm Eastern. The Phillies’ starter will be Brett Myers (10-12, 4.46), who is coming off his worst outing since his return from the minors, as he lost to the Marlins on September 19, as he went four innings plus five batters, giving up ten earned runs on nine hits, in the Phillies’ 14-8 lost. Myers should be able to bounce back from that start, like his did in his previous start against the Brewers on September 14, when he pitched a complete game shut out, after his lost to the Marlins on September 10. The lost makes Myers 7-3 since his return. He will be trying for his eleventh win overall while getting the Phillies a bit closer to the playoff with four games left to play in the season. The Braves will oppose him with Jo-Jo Reyes (3-11, 5.74), who is coming off a recent no-decision against the Mets on September 19, where he only lasted three and a third innings, giving up five earned runs on seven hits, in the Braves’ 9-5 lost. Against the Phillies this year, he has appeared in three games, two of them starts, where his record is 0-2 with a 7.56 ERA, hoping that he won’t get bombed again by the Phillies’ bats as he starts against them.

The Phillies’ offense should be trying to rebound from last night’s hard lost and Jo-Jo Reyes and his 7.56 ERA against them should be what the doctor ordered. Of course, they need to concentrate on the HRP: Hits, Runs and Pile it on. Get base hits, score runs early and score runs often. A steal or two from either Jimmy Rollins or Shane Victorino once they get on base wouldn’t hurt the cause. Brett Myers, for his part, needs to just forgot about last Friday’s game and take his frustrations out on the Braves’ bat, shutting them down so that they won’t be able to get any run opportunities like they got in last night’s game. He will have to be ready to put on his A-game to pick up Cole Hamels. At the same time, the bullpen should be ready to keep down the Braves once they are given the ball in relief.

The Phillies lead the Mets by a game and a half in the East as the Mets prepare to face the Cubs once again. The magic number for the Divisional crown is still at four. In the Wild Card chase, the Mets’ lead over the Brewers is still a game as they get ready to face the Pirates. The Phillies will be trying to recover from last night’s lost, hoping for another good outing from Myers while hoping to once again sting Reyes and send the Braves packing with another lost.

Final Countdown to the Playoffs: Game 5: Phillies lose tough one to the Braves as their lead in the East shrinks to a game and a half.

A throwing error by Cole Hamels, the lack of a clutch hit with the bases loaded and a base running error in the sixth would all lead to a hard lose as the Phillies lose a close one to the Braves, 3-2. The Mets’ win against the Cubs cuts the Phils lead in the East down to a game and a half and leaves the magic number for winning the East at four while a Brewers’ win leave the playoff magic number at one.

The Braves took the lead in the first as, with a runner on second and one out, Kelly Johnson would hit a RBI single, scoring Martin Prado, who has earlier singled, giving the Braves a quick 1-0 lead. The Phillies would tie up the game in the second as, with a runner on third and two outs, Pedro Feliz would hit a RBI single, scoring Ryan Howard, who has earlier singled, went to second on Pat Burrell’s walk and would go to third on Shane Victorino’s 4-6-3 double play ball, which wiped out Burrell at second. The Braves would retake the lead in the third as, with runners on first and second and two out, Coel Hamels would have Johnson, who has gotten on base earlier with a single and then would move to second on Omar Infante’s single, picked off as Johnson was trying to steal third. But, Hamels’ throw to Feliz at third would go behind the third baseman and into left field, allowing Johnson to score and make it 2-1 Braves. The Phillies would threaten to even the score in their half of the third as they loaded up the bases with a double (Chase Utley), a throwing error by Johnson (Jayson Werth) and a walk (Howard), with two men out. But Braves’ starter Mike Hampton would end the threat by getting Burrell to pop out to the third baseman. The Braves would increase their lead in the sixth, as, with two outs, Casey Kotchman would hit a solo home run, his fourteenth home run of the year, making it 3-1 Braves. The Phillies would get a run base in their half of the sixth, as, with a runner on third and no one out, Pat Burrell would hit a RBI double, scoring Howard, who has earlier tripled, to make it a 3-2 Braves’ lead. Then Burrell would make a crucial base running blunder as, when Shane Victorino hit a hard ground to Braves’ shortstop Brent Lillibridge, instead of going back to second, as he should’ve done, he would be caught off second and then be run down before finally being tagged out by Johnson, with the play going 6-5-4, with Victorino being safe at first on the fielder’s choice. Later, with Feliz batting, Victorino would try to steal second. He would be thrown out by Braves’ catcher Brian McCann for the inning’s second out as Johnson supplies the tag. Feliz would then end the inning by grounding out, 6-3. The Burrell base running blunder would seems to take the wind out of the Phillies’ sails for the rest of the night as they would be unable to mount another threat as the game ended up being a win for the Braves.

Cole Hamels would take the lost as he pitched seven innings, giving up three runs, only two of which were earned, on eight hits, as he struck out seven. His record is now 14-10 with an ERA of 3.09. Scott Eyre, Chad Durbin and J.C. Romero would combine for two scoreless innings, giving up no hits between them, while striking out one (Romero). Mike Hampton would get the win as he pitches six innings, giving up two earned runs on six hits. His record is now even at 3-3 with a 4.88 ERA. Will Ohman and Jeff Bennett would each pitch a scoreless inning, with both man giving up no hits while Bennett would walk a batter. Mike Gonzalez would record his fourteenth save of the year as he pitches a scoreless ninth, giving up no hits as he walked a batter and struck out one.

The Phillies would get done in by the kind of mistakes that they have been avoiding lately, namely a throwing error by Cole Hamels when he had Kelly Johnson dead to rights when Johnson was trying to steal third, being unable to get the clutch hit when they needed it after they had loaded up the bases and Pat Burrell’s base running blunder with no one out. With Hamels’ errant throw, even with his throwing behind Pedro Feliz, if the throw has gone into Feliz’s glove, and Johnson has been safe at third, the Braves would have been turned back as Hamels then struck out Casey Kotchman to end the inning, keeping the game tied at 1-1. This might have been the turning point of the game, as the Phillies, in the later half of the inning, would mount a bases loaded threat that would be turned back because of a pop up into foul territory by Pat Burrell that was caught by Braves’ third baseman Martin Prado. But what really killed the Phillies was Burrell’s later base running blunder in the sixth. With the play in front of him, he should’ve went back to second when Braves’ shortstop Brent Lillibridge caught Shane Victorino’s hard ground ball. Instead, he allowed himself to get trapped between second and third, and then compounded things by not staying in the base paths long enough to allow Victornio to get to second base. An added insult would be Braves’ catcher Brian McCann throwing out Victorino when Victorino tried to steal second. Hopefully the Phillies will be able to bounce back from the lost and win tonight’s game with the Braves.

The Phillies (89-69) will play the final game of their three games home stand with the Braves (70-88) tonight. The game will be played at Citizens Bank Park and will begin at 7:05 pm Eastern. The Phillies’ starter will be Brett Myers (10-12, 4.46), who is coming off his worst outing since his return from the minors, as he lost to the Marlins on September 20, where he only went four innings plus five batters, giving up ten earned runs on nine hits, in the Phillies’ 14-8 lost. Myers should be able to come back from that start, like his did in his previous start against the Brewers on September 14, where he pitched a complete game shut out, after his lost to the Marlins on September 10. The lost makes Myers 7-3 since his return. He will be trying for his eleventh win overall while getting the Phillies a bit closer to the playoff with four games left to play. The Braves will oppose him with Jo-Jo Reyes (3-11, 5.74), who is coming off a recent no-decision against the Mets on September 19, where he only lasted three and a third innings, giving up five earned runs on seven hits, in the Braves’ 9-5 lost. Against the Phillies this year, he has appeared in three games, two of them starts, where his record is 0-2 with a 7.56 ERA, hoping that he won’t get bombed again by the Phillies’ bats as he starts against them.

The lost would cut the Phillies’ lead over the Mets down to a game and a half as the Mets defeated the Cubs. The magic number for the Division crown is still at four. In the Wild Card chase, the Mets’ lead is still a game over the Brewers as they defeated the Pirates, while their lead over the Astros is now four and a half as they lost to the Reds. The Phillies will be trying to recover from last night’s lost, hoping for another good outing from Myers while hoping to once again sting Reyes and send the Braves packing with another lost.

Final Countdown to the Playoffs: Game 5: Attempting to clinch a playoff spot with Cole Hamels on the mound.

The Phillies (89-68) will continue their three games series with the fourth place Braves (69-86) with a game tonight. The game will be played at Citizens Bank Park and will begin at 7:05 pm Eastern. The Phillies’ starter will be their ace Cole Hamels (14-9, 3.10), who is coming off a win against these same Braves on September 18, where he went six innings, giving up only two earned runs on six hits, in the Phillies’ 4-3 win. Hamel will be trying for his fifteenth win of the year while trying to secure a playoff spot for the Phillies with a good outing tonight. The Braves’ starter will be Mike Hampton (2-3, 5.05), who is coming off a lost to the Phillies, also on September 18, as he would go seven innings, giving up four runs, only two of which were earned, in the Braves’ 4-3 lost. This will be his third start this year against the Phillies, as he sports an 0-1 record, with a no-decision. He will be trying to hold off the Phillies going into the playoff for one more night.

The Phillies just need to continue to do what they have been doing during their last eleven games: hitting the ball, scoring runs early, scoring them often, getting clutch hits, having good starting pitching and getting good efforts from the bullpen, and using their gloves to stop opponents’ rallies. All aspects of the team’s game seems to be jelling at the same time, which is good, considering how long it took for all of them to come together in the first place. I’m getting that 1980 feeling folks. Too bad I’m not that same college sophmore going to the local Penn State campus near Media, PA, wondering if the Phillies can catch up with the division leading Montreal Expos (now the Washington Nationals) before their final trip up to Montreal where they would win the Eastern Division in a wild final series. Hopefully, the Phillies won’t have to clinch the division against Montreal’s descendants, the Nationals, again. But, if they have to, the team has better just be ready to crush them but good. 🙂

The Phillies are now leading the Mets by two and a half games, as the Mets prepare to once again face the Cubs. The magic number to win the National League East is now set at four. In the Wild Card chase, the Mets’ lead over the Brewers is now at a game, as the Brewers prepare to play Pirates for three games, while their lead over the Astros is at three and a half games as they get ready to face the Reds for three. The Phillies will be trying to win tonight’s game to guarantee themselves a spot in the playoffs, while trying to see if they can get Cole Hamels his fifteenth win of the season.

Final Countdown to the Playoffs: Game 6: The magic number into the playoffs is now one as the Phillies defeat the Braves, 6-2.

Behind Pat Burrell’s three-run shot in the bottom of the eighth inning and the solid pitching of rookie J.A. Happ and the bullpen, the Phillies have defeated the Braves, 6-2, cutting their magic number to get into the post-season down to one and to win the National League East down to four. Their lead in the East has increased to two and a half games as the Mets are unable to stop the Cubs. The Phillies took a quick 1-0 lead in the first as Chase Utley, with a runner on second and no one out, would hit a RBI double, knocking in Jimmy Rollins who has earlier doubled. The RBI would be the 100th of the season for Utley, the only Phil, other than Ryan Howard, to knock in so many runs. The Phillies would increase their lead to 2-0 in the second, as, with a runner on third and one out, Carlos Ruiz would hit into a ground out, second to first, scoring Shane Victorino, who has earlier singled, would move up to second on Pedro Feliz’s ground out, 6-3, and would go to third on Braves’ starter Jair Jurrjens’ wild pitch. The score would remain 2-0 for the next three innings as a pitchers’ duel developed between Jurrjens, who was able to slow down the Phillies’ offernse after the second inning and Phils’ starter  J.A. Happ, who would be almost unhitable to the Braves’ offense, who would only be able to get two hits and a walk off of him through the first five innings. Sadly, that would come to an end in the sixth, as, with a runner on first and one man out, Kelly Johnson, would tie up the ballgame at 2-2 as he would slug an 0-1 slider, that was high in the strike zone, into the right field seats, scoring Matin Prado, who has earlier walked. One inning later, the Braves would threaten to take the lead, as with one out, Brent Lillibridge would get on base with a single to left. Jurrjens would then move him over to second with a sacrifice bunt, for the inning’s second out. Charlie Manuel would then come out of the dugout and take out Happ and replace him with Rudy Seanez, to face pinch hitter Greg Norton, who was pinch hitting for the originally announced pinch hitter, Yunel Escobar, who in turned was to pinch hit for Josh Anderson. Seanez would proceed to intentionally walk Norton, putting runners on first and second. Seanez would then get the next batter, Prado, to hit into a force out, 6-4, putting out Norton at second, for the final out of the inning. The Braves would then try again in the eighth, as Johnson would lead off the inning with a double, and then would go to third on Victorino’s fielding error. Seanez would then get Omar Infante to line out to Rollins for the inning’s first out. The next batter, Jeff Francoeur, would then hit a fielder’s choice ground ball to Rollins, who would quickly throw home, cutting down Johnson, as Ruiz blocks the plate and tags him out, for the second out of the inning, while Francoeur would be safe on first. After Manuel takes out Seanez and replaces him with Scott Eyre, Eyre would get Casey Kotchman to fly out to left for the inning’s final out. The Phillies would then retake the lead in their half of the eighth, as pinch hitter Greg Dobbs would get a pinch single off of Braves’ reliever Jeff Bennett. After Dobbs is replaced at first base by pinch runner Greg Golson, the Braves would try to pick Golson off at first. It didn’t work as Bennett would commit a throwing error, as the ball would get past Braves’ first baseman Kotchman, which would allow Golson to go from first to third. After Rollins would ground out for the inning’s first out, Utley would be intentionally walked, bringing up Jayson Werth. Werth would hit a sharp grounder to Braves’ third baseman Prado, who would then throw home in an attempt to cut down Golson. It wouldn’t work, as Golson was off on the crack of the bat, beating Braves’ catcher Clint Sammons’ tag, and scoring the go ahead run as the Phillies took a 3-2 lead, while Utley would go on to second and Werth would reach first on the fielder’s choice. Bobby Cox would then come to the mound and replace Bennett with Will Ohman. After Howard flies out for the second out of the inning, Ohman would be replaced by Julian Tavarez to pitch to Pat Burrell. With the count going to 3-1, Burrell would hit a Tavarez’s fastball into the left field seats for a three-run home run, his thirty-third home run of the year, scoring both Utley and Werth, and giving the Phillies a 6-2 lead. After Victorino follows with a triple, Tavarez would finally end the inning by getting Feliz to fly out to left. The Phillies would then hand the ball over to Ryan Madson. After Madson gets pinch hitter Ruben Gotay to fly out for the inning’s first out, he would give up a pinch single to pinch hitter Chipper Jones. Pinch hitter Brian McCann would then follow him with a deep fly ball to left that would go out of the park, but would be declared a double by the third base umpire Chad Fairchild who would claim that the ball has landed under the yellow line, making it a double and not a home run. A later umpires’ conference would uphold Fairchild’s call, as does instant reply, thus leaving the Braves with runners on second and third with one out and not a two-run homer for McCann. Madson would then buckle down and get Gregor Blanco to fly out to left for the second out of the inning, and then get Prado to ground out, 4-3, to end the game and preserve the win.

J.A. Happ would get a no-decision as he pitches a strong six and two-thirds innings, giving up two earned runs on five hits, striking out five while walking only two. Rudy Seanez would pitch a scoreless inning of relief, giving up only one hit and walking a batter. Scott Eyre would get the win as he pitches a third of an inning, giving up no runs and no hits. His record is now 5-0 (3-0 with the Phils) with an ERA of 4.30. Ryan Madson would also pitch a scoreless inning, giving up only two hits. Jair Jurrjens would also get a no-decision as he pitches seven innings, giving up two earned runs on five hits and a walk. Jeff Bennett would get the lost as he pitches a third of an inning, giving up three earned runs on a hit and a walk. His record is now 3-7 with an ERA of 3.86. Will Ohman would also pitch a third of an inning, getting out the only man that he would face. Julian Tavarez would also go a third of an inning, giving up an earned run on two hits.  

The Phillies would score two early runs, which J.A. Happ would hold onto brillantly until he gives up the two-run home run to Kelly Johnson in the sixth. The Phillies offense would then go back to work in the bottom of the eighth, scoring four unanswered runs, with the big blow being Pat Burrell’s three-run shot. The go ahead run that Greg Golson would score on the crack of the bat, would be his first run scored in a major league game. The bullpen would then come in and pitch two and a third innings of shut out ball, although Madson almost gave up a two-run home run to pinch hitter Brian McCann, except that the ball would drop into the seats below the yellow line under the railing in left, as confirmed later by instant replay. The Phillies are now on a roll, having won ten of their last eleven games, as they reached a season high twenty-one games over .500, the highest since their pennant winning year of 1993. The Phillies are now one game away from 90 wins, and need just one more game to guarantee a return to the playoffs.

The Phillies (89-68) will continue their series with the fourth place Braves (69-86) with a game tonight. The game will be played at Citizens Bank Park and will start at 7:05 pm Eastern. The Phillies will send to the mound their ace Cole Hamels (14-9, 3.10), who is coming off a win against the Braves on September 18, as he went six innings, giving up two earned runs on six hits, in the Phillies’ 4-3 win. Hamel will be trying for his fifteenth win of the year while trying to secure the playoff spot for the Phillies with a good outing tonight. The Braves’ starter will be Mike Hampton (2-3, 5.05), who is coming off a lost to the Phillies on September 18, as he would go seven innings, giving up four runs, only two of which were earned, in the Braves’ 4-3 lost. This is his third start against the Phillies, sporting an 0-1 record, with a no-decision. He will be trying to hold off the Phillies running into the playoff for one more night.

The Phillies are now leading the Mets by two and a half games, thanks to the Mets lost to the Cubs. The magic number to win the National League East is now at four. In the Wild Card chase, the Mets’ lead over the Brewers is now at a game, as the Brewers were idle last night, while it is at three and a half games over Houston, who were also idle last night. The Phillies will be trying to win tonight’s game to guarantee a spot in the playoffs, while trying to see if they can get Cole Hamels his fifteenth win of the season.

Final Countdown to the Playoffs: Game 6: Coming home to take care of business.

The Phillies (86-68) are back in Philadelphia to start their final home stand of the regular season, first playing three games with the fourth place Braves (69-87). The first game of the three games series will be played tonight at Citizens Bank Park and will begin at 7:05 pm Eastern. The Phillies’ starter will be rookie J.A. Happ (1-0, 4.24), who is coming off a victory against these same Braves on September 17, as he pitched six shut out innings, giving up only three hits, in the Phillies’ 6-1 win. In his previous three starts, his ERA is 2.12. He will be trying for his second major league win, while trying to get the Phillies even closer to reentering the playoffs. The Braves will counter with Jair Jurrjens (13-10, 3.72), who is coming off a lost to the Phillies on September 17, as he went five innings, giving up four earned runs on five hits, in the Braves’ 6-1 lost. He will be trying to improve on his last start, while trying to slow down the Phillies’ charge towards the playoffs.

As in Happ’s previous start on the 17th, the Phillies’ offense will need to get to Jair Jurrjens as early as possible to give Happ some early runs support so that he won’t put any unnecessary pressure upon himself, and just concentrate upon throwing strikes at the Braves’ offense. If the Phillies are able to do to Jair tonight what they did to him in the first inning of last Wednesday’s ballgame, they shouldn’t have any trouble winning tonight behind Happ. 

Te Phillies lead over the Mets is now a game and a half as the Mets start a four games series at home against the Cubs. In the Wild Card race, the Mets now lead the Brewers by one and a half games as the Brewers take the day off. The Mets now lead the Astros by four games as they also take the day off. The Phillies will be home trying to clinch a spot in the playoffs before going after either the Eastern Division flag or the Wild Card spot.

Final Countdown to the Playoffs: Game 7: Behind solid pitching from Jamie Moyer and the bullpen and a pair of 2-run home runs from Chase Utley and Pedro Feliz, the Phillies sink the Marlins, 5-2. Phillies’ lead goes up to 1 and 1/2 games in the East.

Thanks to good pitching from Jamie Moyer and the bullpen and a pair of two-run home runs from Chase Utley and Pedro Feliz, the Phillies have finally sank the Marlins hopes for a playoff spot as they defeated the fish, 5-2. They increased their lead to a game and a half in the Eastern Division as the Mets’ lost to the Braves thanks to their bullpen emploding once again. The Phillies would take the lead in the third when, with a runner on second and no one out, Chase Utley would hit a two-run home run, his thirty-second home run of the year, scoring Jimmy Rollins, who has earlier doubled, to give the Phillies a 2-0 lead. The Phils would add to their lead in the fourth as, with runners on first and third and two men outs, Rollins would hit a RBI single, scoring Carlos Ruiz who has earlier singled and would reached third on Marlins’ right fielder’s Cody Ross fielding error on Phillies’ starter Jamie Moyer’s fly ball, giving the Phillies a 3-0 lead, while Moyer would move up to second on Rollins’ single. Marlins’ starter Chris Volstad would then hit Chase Utley with the pitch to load the bases as Moyer and Rollins would both move up a base. Volstad would then get out of the inning by getting Jayson Werth to hit into a force out, as Marlins’s third baseman Jorge Cantu would touch third base before Rollins. The Marlins would then try to score a run in the fifth. After Moyer gets out the first two Marlins’ batters, he would give up a two-out double to John Baker. The next batter, Cantu, would reach base on a fielding error by Ryan Howard on a ball that Howard would be unable to handle, while Baker would move over to third on the play. Mike Jacobs would then hit a ground ball to Howard that would first hit Howard’s glove and then possibly his face, but Howard would still be able to throw Jacobs out at first, with Moyer covering the bag, as Jacobs did not immediately run out of the box, since he’d thought that Ryan has actually caught the ball, ending the threat. The Marlins would then cut the lead in the sixth as, with a runner on second and two outs, Alfredo Amezaga would hit a RBI single, scoring Josh Willingham, who has earlier doubled, making it a 3-1 Phillies’ lead. The Marlins would then make the score even closer in the seventh, as, with the bases loaded, thanks to a double (Baker/given up by Chad Durbin), a single (Cantu/also by Durbin) and a walk (Dan Uggla/by J.C. Romero), and two men out, Willingham would hit a sharp ground ball down the third base line that would be stopped by third baseman Greg Dobbs, who would then be unable to make the play, as Baker scores, making it 3-2 Phils, while the bases would remain loaded as Willingham would be credited with a single as Cantu and Uggla would both move up a base. Dobbs’ play would save at least a second run from scoring as Clay Condrey would come in in place of Romero and would get Ross to hit into a force play to third baseman Pedro Feliz, who has just replaced Dobbs, as he has suffered a leg cramp on the previous play, who would throw to Utley to force out Willingham, thus ending the inning. The Phillies would then put the game away in the eighth, as, with a runner on first and no one out, Feliz would hit a two-run home run, his fourteenth home run of the year, knocking in Shane Victorino who has reached base earlier with a single. After Ryan Madson has put the Marlins down 1-2-3 in their half of the eighth, Brad Lidge would be handed the ball in the ninth to end the game. The Marlins would get runners on first and second with two men outs, but Lidge would finally end the game by getting pinch hitter Dallas McPherson to strike out swinging for his fortieth save of the year.

Jamie Moyer would get the win as he would go six innings, giving up just an earned run on six hits while striking out four. His record is now 15-7 with a 3.78 ERA, while his career record against the Marlins is now 11-1. Chad Durbin would pitch one-third of an inning, giving up an earned run on two hits. J.C. Romero would pitch a third of an inning, giving up no runs on no hits while walking one. Clay Condrey would also pitch a third of an inning, giving up no runs on no hits. Ryan Madson would pitch a 1-2-3 scoreless inning. Brad Lidge would pitch a scoreless inning, giving up a hit and a walk while striking out two as he records his fortieth save in forty tries. Chris Volstad would take the lost, as he pitches five innings, giving up three runs, two of which were earned, on six hits. His record is now 5-4 with a ERA of 3.10. Doug Waechter would go a third of an inning, giving up no runs or hits. Andrew Miller would pitch two-thirds of an inning, giving up no runs or hits. Kevin Gregg would pitch a scoreless inning, giving up no hits. Joe Nelson would pitch an inning, giving up two earned runs on two hits. Ryan Tucker would pitch a scoreless 1-2-3 inning.

Although out hit by the Marlins, the Phillies’ offense would get the hits when they counted on Chase Utley and Pedro Feliz’s two two-run home runs, with the second one helping to take some of the wind out of the Marlins’ sails. The Phillies have won their fourth straight series since losing two of three to the Marlins at home, doing what they needed to do to get into first place in first the wild card chase and then the Eastern Division, as they watch first the Brewers and then the Mets slip out of the lead in the wild card and the division respectively. At the same time, they have put the Marlins out of contention in both the East and the wild card race. For the Phillies, the magic number to get into the playoffs is now set at 3. Hopefully, they can get it done by the time the Braves leave town this Wednesday.

The Phillies (86-68) will be coming home for their final home stand of the regular season, playing three games with the fourth place Braves (69-87). The first game of the series will be played tomorrow night at Citizens Bank Park and will start at 7:05 pm Eastern. The Phillies’ starter will be rookie J.A. Happ (1-0, 4.24), who is coming off a win against these same Braves on September 17, as he would pitch six shut out innings, giving up only three hits, in the Phillies’ 6-1 win. In three starts this year, Happ’s ERA is 2.12. He will be trying for his second major league win, while trying to get the Phillies even closer to reentering the playoffs. The Braves will counter with Jair Jurrjens (13-10, 3.72), who is coming off a lost to the Phillies on September 17, as he went five innings, giving up four earned runs on five hits, in the Braves’ 6-1 lost. He will be trying to improve on his last start, while trying to slow down the Phillies’ charge towards the playoffs.

With the win, the Phillies have increased their lead over the Mets to a game and a half as they lost to the Braves. They have increased their lead over the Marlins to six and a half games with the win. In the Wild Card race, the Mets now lead the Brewers by one and a half games as they defeated the Reds. The Mets now lead the Astros by four games as they beat the Pirates. The Phillies will now come home, trying to first clinch a spot in the playoffs before going for either the Eastern Division flag or the Wild Card spot.

Final Countdown to the Playoffs: Game 8: Phillies defeated the Marlins, 3-2, in another heart stopper. Regain the lead in the East as the Mets lose to the Braves.

The Phillies, behind Joe Blanton and the bullpen, would hold on in a heart stopper to defeat the Marlins, 3-2. The win and the Mets’ lost to the Braves would put the Phillies back into first place in the Eastern Division pennant race. The Phillies would take the lead in the third as, with two men on and one out, Chase Utley would hit a RBI single, scoring Carlos Ruiz, who has gotten on base earlier on Marlins’ third baseman Jorge Cantu’s throwing error, and would then go to second on Phillies’ starter Joe Blanton’s sacrifice bunt, who would in turn be safe on first on Marlins’ starter Anibal Sanchez’s own throwing error, giving the Phillies a 1-0 lead. The Marlins would then strike back in their half of the third, when, with two men on and one out, John Baker would hit a two-run double, scoring Alfredo Amezaga, who has earlier singled and would move on to second on Cameron Maybin’s single, and Maybin, who has singled, to give the Marlins a 2-1 lead. The Phillies would tie the game up in the fourth as, with one out, Shane Victorino would hit a solo home run, his fourteenth home run of the year. The Phillies would then retake the lead in the sixth, as with two men on and two out, Greg Dobbs would hit a bloop single to left, scoring Ryan Howard, who has gotten on base earlier with a walk, giving the Phillies a 3-2 lead, and sending Pat Burrell, who has also walked, to second. After throwing two balls to Ruiz, Sanchez would be taken out of the game because of cramps to his right leg. The Marlins’ relief pitcher, Logan Kensing, would then throw two balls to Ruiz, walking him and loading the bases, although the walk would be charged to Sanchez. Kensing would then be taken out for Mark Hendrickson, who would get pinch hitter Tadahito Iguchi, who was pinch hitting for the originally announced pinch hitter Geoff Jenkins, who was pinch hitting for Blanton, to fly out to end the inning. The Phillies bullpen would then spend the next four innings turning back the Marlins. Sixth: Chad Durbin would get the first two batters out but would then give up a walk to Josh Willingham. But with the count 2-1 on Cody Ross, Ruiz would pick Willingham off first base, with Howard applying the tag, to end the inning. Seventh: After getting out the first batter, Durbin would give up a single to Amegaza. Charlie Manuel would then come out of the dugout, and replace Durbin with J.C. Romero. Romero would then walk pinch hitter Paul Lo Duca, sending Amegaza to second. After Brett Carroll goes to first base to pinch run for Lo Duca, Romero would proceed to strike out Maybin for the inning’s second out, and then strike out Baker to end the inning. Eighth: With Ryan Madson on the mound, he would give up a single to Cantu and then a double to Mike Jacobs, putting runners on second and third, with no one out, thanks to Jayson Werth’s playing of the ball after it drops in. After Jacobs is replaced by pinch runner Robert Andino, Dan Uggla would hit a slow roller to third. After getting the ball, Phillies’ third baseman Greg Dobbs would throw home, cutting down Andino, who would be tagged out by Ruiz, although instant replay would show that he might have beaten the tag, for the inning’s first out, while Jacobs would stay at second as Uggla would reach first on the fielder’s choice. Willingham would then hit into a force out, 6-4, cutting down Uggla at second, while Jacobs would go on to third, putting runners on the corners with two out. Madson would then end the inning by striking out Ross. Ninth: The ball is then handed over to Phillies’ closer Brad Liddge. Lidge would start the inning off by walking the pesky Amegaza. He would then strike out pinch hitter Dallas McPherson swinging for the inning’s first out, while Amegaza would steal second on the third strike. Lidge would then strike out Maybin swinging for the inning’s second out before he finally ends the ball game by striking out Baker, also swinging, for his thirty-ninth save in thirty-nine tries.

Joe Blanton would get the win, his third win as a Phil, as he would pitch five innings, giving up two earned runs on four hits, while striking out nine. His record is now 8-12, 3-0 as a Phil, while his ERA is now 4.79. Chad Durbin would pitch one and a third innings, giving up no runs on one hit. J.C. Romero would pitch two-thirds of an inning, giving up no hits while striking out two. Ryan Madson would pitch a scoreless inning, as he gives up two hits and strikes out one as he pitched his way out of a two on, no outs jam. Brad Lidge would pitch a scoreless ninth as he struck out the side swinging while also walking one, as he recorded his thirty-ninth save of the year. Anibal Sanchez would get the lost, as he goes five and two-thirds innings, giving up three runs, only two of which were earned, on four hits, as he struck out eight while also walking three. His record is now 2-5 with a 5.57 ERA. Logan Kensing would pitch to one batter, walking him, but having it charged to Sanchez, because of the 2-0 count thanks to Sanchez’s injury. Mark Hendrickson would pitch an inning and a third, giving up no runs on no hits. Kevin Gregg and Joe Nelson would both pitch a scoreless inning, giving up just one hit (Nelson) while striking out three batters between them (Gregg (2) and Nelson (1)).

Blanton would pitch five strong innings, being able to keep the fish off-balanced enough that they would only get four hits off of him while getting nine of the Marlins to strike out. The bullpen would then take over and pitch four shut out innings, refusing to give the Marlins’ batters that clutch hit, especially in the eighth inning, when they had runners on second and third with no outs, thus ending the Marlins’ winning streak at nine games, and bringing a little bit closer the ending of the Marlins’ hopes for a playoff berth.

The once again first place Phillies (87-68) will play the final game of their series with the third place Marlins (81-73) tomorrow afternoon. The game will be played at Dolphin Stadium and will start at 4:10 pm Eastern. The Phillies’ starter will be the Marlins’ nemesis Jamie Moyer (14-7, 3.86), who will be coming off a no-decision against the Braves on September 16, where he went five and two-thirds innings, giving up six earned runs on six hits, in the Phillies’ 8-7 win. His last start against the Marlins on August 5 was a lost as he was only able to go five innings, giving up two earned runs on six hits in the Phillies’ 8-2 lost. Lifeteime, his record against the Marlins is 10-1. He will be trying to regain his dominance over the young Marlins’ batters while gunning for his fifteenth win of the year. The Marlins will counter with rookie Chris Volstad (5-3, 3.07), who is coming off a win against the Astros on September 16, where he went eight innings, giving up an earned run on four hits, in the Marlins’ 5-1 win. He has faced the Phillies twice already this year, being 1-0 with a no-decision, as he would pitch a combine total of nine innings, giving up an earned run on five hits. He will be trying to improve his record while trying to hurt the Phillies’ pennant chances.

The Phillies are once again leading the Mets by half a game as they lost to the Braves. Their lead over the Marlins is now back to five and a half games thanks to their win over the fish. In the Wild Card chase, the Mets lead the Brewers by two and a half games as the Brewers lost to the Reds. The Mets lead both the Marlins and the Astros by five games, as the Astros lost to the Pirates. The Phillies will be trying for a series win while also hoping to increase their lead over the Mets in the Eastern Division.