For five consecutive years, some poor saps in the opposite dugout had to retreat back inside the clubhouse with heads hanging as the inevitable unfolded on the diamond: the Phillies celebrating an NL East pennant. On three of those occasions, the poor saps were the Washington Nationals.
At some point in the next three days, there's a very good chance the shoe will finally wind up on the other foot. However, inevitable it is not.
The Nats currently hold a three-game lead over Atlanta, which means if the Phillies sweep Washington, and the Braves sweep the Pirates, there will be a tie for first place. That would result in a one-game playoff to determine the division champion, and Philadelphia spared the sight of a rival popping corks.
What are the odds the Fightins can pull this off? Well, they did beat the Nats in seven of eight at one point this season before dropping the last two, including a sweep. Down south, the Braves are 19-8 in September, the Pirates 7-21. It's plausible.
If the Phillies are to get it done, they would first need Kyle Kendrick to cooperate as he shoots for a career-high 11th win. KK has been shaky in two of his last three outings though, and especially his latest start which happened to be against Washington: 2.0 IP, 5 ER. Then a lineup absent Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins, who has the night off with a calf tweak, will have to solve unbeaten John Lannan, 4-0 in five starts this year.
And tomorrow, it sounds like the game will be in the bullpen's hands, with pitching coach Rich Dubee informing reporters Johnny Wholestaff will be the starter.
So sweeping the Nats, and expecting the Braves to do the same to Pittsburgh isn't the likeliest of scenarios. But it is a scenario, so there you have it.
Tonight's lineup @ WAS: Frandsen 3B, Mayberry CF, Utley 2B, Ruiz C, Wigginton 1B, Brown RF, Ruf LF, Martinez SS, Kendrick P.
— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) October 1, 2012