Series Preview: Philadelphia Phillies (93-63) at Washington Nationals (67-89)

It’s hard to believe that there are only six games left in the Phillies’ regular season. Just a few weeks ago, things were looking pretty bleak for our boys. They weren’t hitting, they weren’t pitching very well, and apparently Jayson Werth was banging Jen Utley (did anyone actually believe that story?). The Phillies have shaped up quite a bit in the last few weeks, with an incredible 19-5 record in September and a trip to the 2010 playoffs already in the books. Tonight, with a Phillies win or Braves loss, the team clinches the NL East for the fourth straight year in a row. If the Phillies get rained out tonight but the Braves still lose, the Phils could be sitting in the clubhouse, chowing down on some popcorn, and clinch the NL East. That’d be a pretty great story, but that’s not what we want – at least, that’s not what I want. I want a clinching win with the drama that we’ve gotten used to with the Phillies. A killer strikeout or an unbelievable double play. I’ll even take a pop-up to end the game, really, but I just want there to be a game. I’d better not be jinxing this now, though. I’ll shut up about this subject.

We always joke about the Washington Nationals (because they make it so easy, really), but this is a team we know that we can’t sleep on. They’re pesky as hell against us, and they manage to find ways to beat us. Once we clinch, games are a little more relaxed, but we still want to hold the best record in baseball to get homefield advantage during the playoffs. Any Phillies fan knows just how important it is and how big a difference it makes for our team to be playing at home, in front of the 45,000+ crowds that fill CBP pretty much each and every game. As long as the Phillies keep having smart at-bats, hit the ball well, and having stellar pitching performances from our starters and bullpen, they’ve got this.

Pitching matchups: Halladay (20-10, 2.53 ERA) vs. Lannan (8-7, 4.58 ERA), Oswalt (7-1, 1.76 ERA) vs. Marquis (2-9, 7.18 ERA), Blanton (8-6, 4.94 ERA) vs. Detwiler (1-2, 2.52 ERA).

Oh, and one more thing. I love every guy on this team, but I am most looking forward to seeing Mike Sweeney hugging and high-fiving everyone in sight when the Phillies officially clinch the NL East title. If you say that you could care less about that part, you’re a filthy liar.


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