Friday, August 25, 2006
Opportunity squandered. The Reds 6-3 victory over the San Francisco Giants moves the Phillies right back to where they started: two and a half games out of first place.
The Phillies are set to open a three game series against the Mets at Shea Stadium tonight, their fifteenth consecutive day with a game. Monday will be the first time the Phillies have had a day off since August 10th. Playing seventeen consecutive days with a game, including road trips to New York and Chicago, have to wear on a team, so I expect that the Phillies won’t play particularly well this weekend. I’d figure on the Mets taking two of the three. I’d count a two-to-one split in favor of the Phillies a significant victory for the team.
This series will be the final time the Phillies play the Mets in 2006, unless the two teams meet up in the National League Championship Series (NLCS) in October. I have no idea why the schedule-makers elected to stick ten games between the Phillies and Mets in August and leave them out of September. Did they figure that the Phillies wouldn’t have a shot to contend? Similarly, I haven’t a clue why they elected to stick ten games against the Marlins in September and not have the Phillies play them since late July. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to have the Phillies close off the season with the Braves or Mets, figuring that they’d be a likely foe for a playoff berth? Heightening the drama and all?
After this series I am oddly optimistic about the Phillies schedule down the stretch. I say oddly because the Phillies recent history doesn’t suggest they have much of a shot to make it into October. Here is who they play after they wrap up with the Mets:
Games Against / Opp. Win Pct.
Florida Marlins: 10 / .476
Atlanta Braves: 7 / .468
Houston Astros: 6 / .472
Washington Nationals: 6 / .425
Chicago Cubs: 3 / .421
How do you like that schedule? After this weekend the Phillies don’t play a single team with a winning record. This is a very favorable schedule for the Phillies, though I’d almost be more comfortable playing a team we’ve historically had success against, like the Mets, as opposed to the Marlins, who seem to have cast some sort of spell over the Phillies in seasons past.
Seven of the Phillies games down the stretch are against the Braves, that sinking juggernaut that dominated this division for so long. As everyone who reads this blog knows, I loathe the Braves, their bland dominance of the NL East over the last decade has made baseball boring, and their GM is an arrogant ignoramus. (See, my review of his book, “Built to Win”.) So the sight of the Braves crawling their way to a losing record fills me with joy. I hope the Phillies win all three and the Braves finish with 90+ losses this season. “Built to Win” my a--.
What is particularly stunning about the Phillies schedule is that ten of their last twenty-two games are against the Marlins! Nothing against the Fishstripes, who have performed much better than expected in this rebuilding year, but they aren’t doing that well this season. It has been a while since the Phils have played them. Thus far this season the Phillies are 6-4 against the Marlins. They seem to be a pretty middling team and don’t seem to be making any sort of a run to the post-season, so the Phillies should be able to blitz through those final games with the wildcard within their grasp.
Wildcard Watch! Here are the current standings:
1. Cincinnati: 67-61
2. San Diego: 65-62 (1.5)
3. Philadelphia: 65-62 (2.5)
4. Arizona: 62-65 (4.5)
5. Milwaukee: 62-65 (4.5)
6. San Francisco: 62-66 (5.0)
7. Florida: 60-66 (6.0)
8. Atlanta: 59-67 (7.0)
9. Houston: 60-68 (7.0)
10. Colorado: 59-68 (7.5)
The Phillies drop back to two and a half games back while the backside of the top ten are starting to slide out of contention. Stay tuned.
Maybe you posted that predicting a Phillies victory tonight with Wolf on the mound...that's genius!
*Please know I'm only messing around.