Its hard to imagine that just ten days ago, this regular season, three game finale against the Braves was supposed to be the deciding factor in regards to who would win the National League East division crown. Oh what a difference a series sweep makes, with the Braves in the middle of a NL Wildcard race, while the Phillies are in the middle of resting their starters and setting up their rotation for the National League Division Series.
Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick (11-10) on five hits and three walks in five innings of work on Friday night. Braves’ first baseman Derrek Lee drove in rightfielder Jason Heyward on a double in the bottom of the first inning. Lee also drove in pitcher Brandon Beachy on a single in the bottom of the fifth. The Braves added three runs in the bottom of the 9th off of reliever Mike Zagurski, who gave up three runs in 0.2 innings of work.
Braves starter Brandon Beachy threw 5.2 innings while allowing four runs, two earned, on seven hits and one walk. Beachy was pulled in the top of the sixth for reliever Peter Moyland after loading the bases with two outs. After Moyland walked rookie Domonic Brown, who was pinch-hitting for Kendrick, to drive in a run and give the Phils’ a 3-2 lead, manager Bobby Cox called on lefty specialist Mike Dunn to get the third and final out to end the frame. Jimmy Rollins, who is still working to regain his form after his latest stint on the disabled list, blasted a first-pitch fastball from Dunn into the first row in left field to give the Phils’ a 7-2 lead. The Phillies would add four more runs in the top of the eighth on RBIs from Ben Francisco, Ryan Howard (2), and Chase Utley.
The obvious plus for the Phillies is that they scored eleven runs on thirteen hits off a Braves pitching staff which has been one of the best in the league all season. The better sign for the team heading into the playoffs, is that the Phillies bullpen, at least those who will make the postseason roster, three three innings of shutout baseball. Antonio Bastardo, J.C. Romero, Chad Durbin, and Jose Contreras combined to pitch the sixth, seventh, and eigth innings. One weakness of the bullpen which has plagued the team all year has been a lack of a reliable left-hander to record big outs against opposing left-handed batters. Enter Bastardo, who struck out the side in the bottom of the sixth inning, and Romero, who recorded the first two outs in the bottom of the seventh. Bastardo also struck out the side in his last outing versus the Washington Nationals on September 28th.
With the Braves loss tonight, they stand 1.5 games ahead of the San Diego Padres for the NL Wildcard. With the way they’re playing, the Phils’ may not know who their NLDS opponent is until after Sunday’s contest.
On Saturday, the Phillies will send rookie Vance Worley (0-0) to the mound against Braves’ starter Tommy Hanson (10-11).
Notes: Charlie Manuel announced today that Roy Halladay will start game one of the NLDS next Wednesday, October 6th. Roy Oswalt will get the nod for game two on Friday, October 8th, with Cole Hamels starting on Sunday, October 10th.