Last night, the Phils' come-from-behind-and-then-keep-coming-from-ahead victory against the Giants moved them squarely in to the lead for the NL's Wild Card slot. For a team who just a month ago was flirting with a .500 record, you would think this development would be filed under the "Good News" heading. Yet according to skipper Charlie Manuel0, it barely even registers as news at all.
"We don’t care about the wild card," said Uncle Cholly when asked about the team's cemented status as the best second-bests. "We want to win the division."
Easier said than done, these days, I'm afraid. The Braves remain the class of the NL East by two-and-a-half games, and have straight-up refused to budge in the standings of late. In both of their last two games (against the Dodgers and Nationals, respectively), the Braves have trailed going into the final frames, and have squeaked out wins nonetheless. With Cubs slugger Derrek Lee now on the way to the ATL, things don't look to be getting easier anytime soon, either.
Still, the Phillies haven't exactly been slouches recently either, now winners of 18 of their last 23 games. With Chase officially integrated into the lineup and Ryan Howard hopefully on the way later in the week, the team looks to keep up its steamrolling ways into the waning months of the season. Unfortunately, we can't send one of our H2O hookup to the mound every night, and tonight we're relying on Joe Blanton to secure the series win one game ahead of time. Joey Bland had been giving a quietly effective month's service for the Phils (3.82 ERA, 25/8 K:BB) before getting knocked around a little against the Dodgers last Thursday. The perenially under-heralded Matt Cain takes the hill for the bad guys, with a 3.11 ERA but a Hamels-ian 8-8 record.
7:05 first pitch from CBP. Yeah, I wouldn't mind the division either, but I'd certainly feel a lot more comfortable with the WC in our back pocket. One foot in front of the other, guys.