Philadelphia Phillies (96-64) at Atlanta Braves (90-70)
Vance Worley (1-1, 2.25 ERA) vs. Tommy Hanson (10-11, 3.41 ERA)
Time: 4:10 p.m., Turner Field
Weather: Partly Cloudy, 67
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Last night’s meaningless game, along with San Diego’s season-saving victory over the Giants, turned out not to be entirely meaningless after all. The Braves’ embarrassing 11-5 defeat dropped their playoff probability from 96.1 percent to 85.1, and raised the Padres’ from 7.6 to 20.6 percent. With every game, it seems, this Wild Card race is getting more and more interesting. A repeat of last night’s results (an Atlanta loss and a San Diego win) would drop the Braves into a tie with the Padres, only a game behind San Francisco.
For the Phillies’ part, a victory this afternoon would tie the team’s third-highest all-time win total, set in 1993. If they finish the sweep, not only would the Phillies’ 98 wins be the most since 1977, when they won 101, but they’d win the division by eight games, their widest margin of victory in the division since 1976, when they outpaced the second-place Pirates by nine games.
For the first time in their head-to-head stretch run meetings, the Braves will have a distinct advantage in the starting pitching matchup, sending Tommy Hanson, who finished third in NL Rookie of the Year voting last season, behind Chris Coghlan and J.A. Happ, to face rookie righthander Vance Worley.
Worley, who turned 23 last week, is a former third-round pick out of Long Beach State whose major league career comprises eight innings and only 129 pitches. This afternoon he will make his fifth major league appearance and second major league start. Worley allowed two runs in five innings and took the loss in the first game of a doubleheader against Florida on September 6. Apart from that, he has thrice pitched scoreless relief innings this season. Today’s tilt will be Worley’s first road appearance in a Phillies uniform.
Today’s Lineup: Rollins SS, Polanco 3B, Utley 2B, Howard 1B, Ibanez LF, Victorino CF, Brown RF, Schneider C, Worley P
Your gameday beer: Sam Adams Octoberfest
Not only is it now October, but today, as it happens, is the 32nd anniversary of the Bucky Dent home run. So in honor of a time when we felt bad for Red Sox fans, let’s throw back a seasonal Sam Adams offering. A couple interesting notes about that game: Dent only hit 40 regular-season home runs in his 12-year career, including the three-run jack off Mike Torrez in that one-game playoff. Torrez, for his part, is most famous for 1) giving up Dent’s homer, and 2) beaning Dickie Thon in 1984. However, he was the first of only four starting pitchers in the division play era to be traded and win a World Series game in the same season. The last two men to do it? Joe Blanton in 2008 and Cliff Lee in 2009. –by Michael