Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Halladay wins 20th as Phils take 5 game lead

This whirlwind season is reaching its finale. It appears to be a happy ending.

After last night's 5-3 victory over Atlanta, the Phillies have taken a five game lead in the NL East with ten to play. It'd take a nearly monumental collapse for them to miss the post-season, let alone lose the division. Roy Halladay became the first Phillies pitcher to win 20 games since Steve Carlton in 1982.

The Braves, meanwhile, are scrambling. Not only are they in a free0fall out of the division race, but their lead in the Wild Card is down to one. They'll need to find a few victories in their last four contests against the Phils.

The Phillies look to sweep the Braves tonight and give themselves a nearly insurmountable six game lead. They have the man for the job on the mound.

Roy Oswalt is 7-0 with a 1.55 ERA in his last nine starts. He'll face Tommy Hanson, the best pitcher Atlanta will throw in this series. Still, Oswalt is one of the hottest pitchers in baseball since landing in Philadelphia and the Phillies have gotten to Hanson before. You'd have to favor the Phillies in this match-up as they go for the sweep.

An interesting thing to consider; if the Phillies have the division wrapped up before their season ending seres in Atlanta, they could have some decisions to make. Naturally, they'd want to rest their starters and some of their bullpen as they head into the playoffs. But if the Braves are fighting for their post-season lives, wouldn't the Phillies want to squash their playoff dreams? It's unlikely that they'd stretch out their starters to do so, but I'm sure the Phillies would love to knock the Braves out of post-season contention.

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