Sometimes, during the course of 162 games, we as fans get tired, fatigued even, as our boys trudge along in search of a chance at October glory. Late July and early August are dubbed,”The dog days of summer,” for a reason. We get bored, we get angry, we see joy, we feel pain. We witness heroes emerge just as easily as we see great men fail. A pressure situation here, a tough loss there. A six month baseball season can be a long and stressful amount of time. There are great times. A walk-off home run. An extra-innings thriller. Sometimes 162 games can bring sheer exhilaration.
There are now 14 games left to play. The payoff for the gamble of investing your time, energy, and emotion is within reach. However, like most gamblers, we need not count what is not in our hands. As quickly as the reward may come, just as quick could it be snatched from us.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel that is a 162 game season. If the Phillies take care of business in their next week, there is a good possibility that the small needle of light in the tunnel will become the lights of center-stage, as they casually stroll into their third straight post-season appearance.
The Phillies start their journey in Miami for a three-game set with the second-place Marlins. The series kicks off with a double header on Tuesday and concludes Wednesday. The Fish sit eight games back of the Phils and a sweep of the Phillies put the Fish in a good position to make a run at the division. However if the Phillies sweep, the Phillies will eradicate the Marlins from a chance at the Eastern Division crown.
Series probables for the Marlins include staff ace, Josh Johnson who enters with a 15-4 record and a 3.01 ERA. He is 1-0 with a no-decision in two starts this year against the Phils. Also pitching for the Fish will be Annibal Sanchez and Rick VandenHurk. Sanchez hasn’t won a game since August 21st but hasn’t been terrible.
The Phillies counter with Joe Blanton, Jamie Moyer, and Cole Hamels. Blanton, although not impressive, still held the Nationals scoreless over six innings. Blanton has hands down been the most consistent starter this season. Moyer has been rejuvenated from the sting of his demotion to the pen and Hamels has finally found his stride.
Following the divisonal showdown, the Phillies head to the cheese and beer capital of the U.S. to take on the Brewers. Despite being far from playoff bound, the Brewers have been one of the hottest team in baseball, going 8-2 over their last ten.
The Brewers will start the series with Jeff Suppan on the hill. Yovani Gallardo, the young ace for Milwaukee was pulled from the rotation and will not make his scheduled start on Friday. Instead, the Phillies will face rookie Josh Butler. Butler will make his major league debut, but was impressive in the minors for the Brewers.
The Phillies will send J.A. Happ and Pedro Martinez on Thursday and Friday, despite both pitchers leaving their last starts early with injury. Both appear to be ready and healthy, however, should the Phillies wrap up the division by then, don’t be surprised to see one or both of these starters to get a day off.
The Phillies could very well clinch the division by weeks end. Going 4-3 or better will almost assure them the Eastern title. 3-4 or worse will certainly make the last week of the season more interesting.
Time to take care of business. The prize is within reach.