Game 162 has arrived. While the past five years the team and fans have looked forward to more baseball in October. This year, we are looking for the mental break instead. We get it finally after today's 1:05 matchup against the Washington Nationals, that most of us won't see because we are either in school or working.
Today the Phillies have the ability to end the season with a winning record. The Phillies sit 81-80. They will either be two games over the .500 mark or an even .500. The last season the Phillies finished at or under the .500 mark was 2002, when the team finished 80-81, denied the chance to even it out by a game 162 rain out. The Phillies hit rock bottom around July 9, 14 games under .500 at 37-51. The Phillies started to rebound a little after that, but a sweep by the Atlanta Braves launched the Phillies fire sale. While going home is tough to swallow, finishing with a winning record would be nice
Cliff Lee takes the mound for the Phillies, unable to even out his record. Lee has been brilliant in September, giving up just five earned runs and three walks in 43 1/3 innings. Unfortunately his record shows only 3-1 for the month, getting two no-decisions and a loss in an eight-inning, one-run performance. Lee currently sits at 6-8 with a 3.12 ERA. Some run support and a win would be nice for Lee to put to close a forgettable year.
For run support, the Phillies will have to have someone other than Darin Ruf step up. The Phillies are without Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard due to injuries and no one not-named Darin Ruf has provided any offense this series. Aside from Ruf's two RBI each of the two games this series, the Phillies have not driven in any runs. The previous Phillies-Nationals matchup, Ruf had a three-run triple to account for the only runs of that Phillies loss to Gio Gonzalez.
A Nationals win today would secure home field advantage for the playoffs. The Nationals put a minor-league lineup out there yesterday and luckily pulled out a victory, thanks to the hot bat of Adam LaRoche, one of two starters playing.
Today, the Nationals will pitch Edwin Jackson. With the playoff rotation being anchored by Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann, the Nationals can get Jackson another starter since there is an off day and a Wild Card matchup day before the NLDS begins. They may, however, limit his innings. Jackson, a supposed big pickup by the Nationals this offseason, is 9-11 with a 4.13 ERA. He tends to be either really good or really bad. Usually against the Phillies he is bad. Lifetime Jackson is 0-4 with a 5.32 ERA against the club.
The Nationals will play all regulars except LaRoche, Bryce Harper, and Kurt Suzuki today.
Here is the Phillies lineup:
- Pierre, LF
- Frandsen, 3B
- Utley, 2B
- Ruiz, C
- Brown, RF
- Ruf, 1B
- Schierholtz, CF
- Mini-Mart, SS
- Lee, P
Broadcast: CSN Philly, 94 WIP/ 1210 WPHT