Monday, September 26, 2011

Revamped lineup helps end skid, Wild Card Race

The losing streak is over.

Charlie Manuel made a long overdue lineup change yesterday, moving Chase Utley out of the three-hole, and it paid dividends immediately.

Utley was moved up to second (I would have dropped him to sixth, for the time being) with Hunter Pence batting third and Shane Victorino sliding into the five-hole.

The Phils ended the losing streak with a 9-4 victory over the Mets. They scored three in the first, one in the second, one in the third and four in the fourth. Pence hit his 21st home run of the year; a two-run shot off Mike Pelfrey in the first.

Roy Halladay cruised to his 19th win, tossing six scoreless innings and throwing just 77 pitches before being lifted from his final tuneup before Saturday's NLDS Game One.

Antonio Bastardo once again struggled mightily, and hopes that he would return to his previous dominant form are in jeopardy.

He allowed three runs on three hits and two walks, while retiring just one batter. His ERA has ballooned up to 2.68. It was 1.38 on September 1st.

The Phils need Bastardo to figure it out if they are to make a deep run in the postseason. The starters aren't always going to throw eight or nine innings.

These last three days are a bit scary and conflicting.

The Phils face the Braves in Atlanta, and it'd be great to see them win a couple games on the road against a division rival fighting for their playoff lives.

That being said, if the St. Louis Cardinals, who are one game behind Atlanta in the Wild Card race, overtake the Braves they'll be Philly's first round opponent. That sounds a bit frightening.

As long as Milwaukee keeps winning, they'll secure the second seed. If the Braves win the Wild Card, the Phils would face Arizona in the first round.

While I would love to see the Phils bounce Atlanta from postseason contention, St. Louis seems to be a much for formidable opponent.

My hope for the Phillies over these last three days: play really well, but maybe not quite well enough.

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