Even though they have the NL East wrapped up for a fourth consecutive year, the Phillies have no desire to muck these final games heading into the playoffs. Heading into Atlanta to play the rival Braves, who are also fighting for a playoff spot, the Phillies can still influence the outcome of the Wild Card race. Currently the Braves lead the Padres by two games in the Wild Card.
They put that task, for game one, on the shoulders of Kyle Kendrick. Originally Charlie Manuel had set up his rotation so that the big three of Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels would again pitch against the Braves to finish off the season. Having clinched the division earlier this week, Manuel decided to throw Kendrick to line Halladay up to start Game 1 of the NLDS. We learned today he will be followed by Oswalt in Game 2. Hamels is the likely choice for Game 3 although nothing has been announced yet. He will start the final game of the season against the Braves.
Kendrick pitched well enough to get onto the postseason roster I think. He threw five innings giving up five hits and two runs on 95 pitches. If and when Kendrick is used in the playoffs, he will be coming out of the bullpen.
The offense looked to stay hot heading into next week’s NLDS. Jimmy Rollins hit a grand slam during the five-run sixth inning, his first since coming back. Ryan Howard had two RBIs and Carlos Ruiz had three hits for the Phillies.
Placido Polanco, who received a cortisone shot Wednesday, returned to the team but did not see any action. Manuel did say he wanted Polanco to get some at bats before the end of the season, so you can expect to see him this weekend in some capacity.