St. Louis Cardinals (82-68) at Philadelphia Phillies (97-52)
What this game means depends largely on the outcome of the Mets-Braves game (currently in progress). If the Braves lose, the Phillies will have clinched their fifth (FIFTH!) straight division title, win or lose. If the Braves win, the Phillies will need to either win this game or wait until tomorrow night to try again.
But wait–what the Braves do probably affects St. Louis more than it does the Phillies, because if the Braves lose and the Cardinals win, not only will the Phillies clinch the division, but the Cards will pull to within 2 1/2 games of the wild card with 11 games to play, putting more pressure on an Atlanta team that has seemed a mortal lock to make the playoffs all season.
Roy Oswalt, whose grip on a spot in the playoff rotation grows more tenuous with each called third strike Vance Worley voodoos into existence, is opposed by Jake Westbrook, the last in a long line of Cleveland Indians starters traded to National League contenders at the deadline, including (as we know well enough) Cliff Lee and CC Sabathia. For those of you unfamiliar with Westbrook, he’s about as unremarkable a pitcher as there is, a righty with a four-pitch arsenal who gets ground balls but doesn’t walk or strike out a ton of batters, and as a result, makes 30-33 starts a year and throws about 200 innings with an ERA in the mid-4′s, year in and year out.
Of course, the Phillies will break out their top-shelf lineup this evening for the first time in about seven weeks. If you look at the lineup, you’ll see no Schneider, no Exxon, no Mini Mart, and no John Bowker. I don’t know about you guys, but that makes me happy.
Lineup: Rollins SS, Victorino CF, Utley 2B, Howard 1B, Pence RF, Ibanez LF, Polanco 3B, Ruiz C, Oswalt P.
GAMEDAY BEER: Irish Car Bomb
Anyone else see the Temple-Penn State game this afternoon? That on top of Arsenal’s collapse against Blackburn Rovers this morning, and suffice it to say I could use an Irish Car Bomb. Or seven.