Yes, the Padres lost. The Mets lost too. The Phillies are now tied for the Wild Card spot and two back in the division with six games to play. We all understand the stakes here and we all know the Phillies history – both recent and ancient. Still, I find myself genuinely nervous. That queasy feeling you get when you think too much about something that you know you shouldn’t. Take my anticipation for tonight’s game, it’s not a “must-win” but it feels like one. That’s why you celebrate so heartily after each victory in the final two weeks of the season. Because if the game matters, that’s all that matters. The games this week against the Braves definitely matter and will be extremely hard-fought. Here are the probables:
Chuck James, LHP (11-10, 4.11) v. Jamie Moyer, LHP (13-11, 5.01)
Tim Hudson, RHP (16-9, 3.34) v. Kyle Lohse, RHP (8-12, 4.71)
John Smoltz, RHP (14-7, 2.95) v. Adam Eaton, RHP (10-9, 6.33)
You read that right, both Hudson AND Smoltz stand in the way between the Phillies and the playoffs. Perhaps a Tim Hudson fastball is just what Ryan Howard needs to seize his opportunity…lest we forget the three-homer game Ryan had against him last September. However the Braves weakness is not their pitching, rather their inability to provide support for these All-Star pitchers.
In other news, Pat Gillick announced that next year will be his last as the Phillies General Manager. After the three-year term of his contract expires after next season, Gillick intends to move back West and spend more time with his family. The announcement comes at an important time for Phillies executives. Ruben Amaro, Jr. who is Gillick’s heir-apparent, has been testing the GM waters recently and perhaps Pat was instructed to make his decision known early so that Dave Montgomery can guarantee Amaro a promotion and keep him on staff. Word is that Ruben was eagerly anticipating the Houston job that went to Ed Wade and there is a strong possibility he will receive an offer from Pittsburgh. Although I would very much like to see Ruben as a GM in Philly, maybe it would be better to let him gain experience elsewhere before giving him the Phillies checkbook.