After a quick series win on the road against our foes of New York, the Phillies tied for first place in the National League Wild Card race with the San Francisco Giants. The same Giants who, as fate would have it, are coming to town for a three game set after a offday Monday. San Francisco won the previous meeting in SF 2-1 back in late April.
Charlie Manuel has said he’s not focused on the Wild Card race. And why he should he be? With Ryan Howard expected to return from the DL in the coming days and the activation of Chase Utley today – the Phillies now have their competition and the fate of the 2010 season right where they want them. After injuries to almost every major position player and then some, an unstable bullpen, a never-ending offensive slump -the Phillies stand on the doorstep of September with everything finally coming together for what seems like another incredible second half run.
I typically give stats for my previews; break down the pitching matchups, how the batters fare against certain guys – and for this one, I can direct you to Phillies.com. (Realistically, I know you’re much more excited for the returns of Pat the Bat and Chase to care how they stack up against Oswalt or Zito respectively.) This series reminds me a lot of the one in mid September 2008 against Milwaukee. Behind the Brew Crew by four games for the Wild Card lead when they came to town for a four game set, we swept them and moved on from the Wild Card to take the NL East weeks later. I bring this series up because when it comes down to it, this team does what it needs to do fate presents such an opportunity. With the exception of Matt Cain v. Joe Blanton, I think the other matchups of Barry Zito v. Roy Oswalt and Jonathan Sanchez v. Cole Hamels do favor the Phillies. I don’t want to get ahead of myself and predict a sweep, but I think after this series the Phillies will be in the lead – but forget the wild card, send San Francisco packing with it. Let’s shoot to end the series atop the National League East and send one final message to Atlanta that the Phillies are coming.