As far as early July series against division rivals, this weekend's three game set with the Braves is about as big as they get. The two best teams in baseball record-wise face off with only 2.5 games separating them in the standings.
If things were to go absolutely horrible for the Phillies this weekend, they could head into the All-Star break in second place. Thankfully, they've tweaked their rotation to set up their big guns to face Atlanta in this series.
Roy Halladay pitches this evening, Cliff Lee goes Saturday afternoon, and Cole Hamels sends them into the break on Sunday. Sure, those three losing on three consecutive days is technically possible, but you're probably more likely to win the Powerball jackpot than that happening.
But first place is not the only thing being fought for this weekend. A series victory and ground gained by either team could be huge for second half momentum, and message sending. The Braves want to show they're a force to be reckoned with while the Phillies want to show the Braves that, while Atlanta is a formidable opponent, they're not quite on the Fightins' level.
"They are right there with us," Charlie Manuel said. "Our
division is a lot better than it was and the Braves are right there."
Should be an exciting weekend of baseball in South Philadelphia.