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The Fightins'

Against visiting Crew, it's now or never for the fightin' Phils

Big League Stew

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'Duk note: Meech.One is a co-editor of The Fightins', the preeminent Phillies blog, and an occasional contributor to Big League Stew. His thoughts on the big series with Milwaukee, which starts tonight in Philly, are below:

To say that the Phillies' upcoming four-game set against the Brewers this weekend isn't important would be like saying David Wright doesn't wax his eyebrows — it's just a flat out lie.

The Fightins now trail the heavily groomed third baseman's Metros by 3.5 games in the NL East and are tied with the freaking 'Stros — who were left for dead sometime in July — four games behind said Crew for the lone NL wild card spot. With only 16 games left to play, a bad weekend of baseball could spell doom for the Philbos and all-but mathematically eliminate them from a second consecutive postseason berth.

It didn't have to be this way. Exactly four days ago, Jamie Moyer & Co. had just finished taking care of the Mets for the second straight time, the Eagles were still basking in their 38-3 whoopin' of the Rams and I had visions of a Cole Hamels masterpiece in the night cap and waking up the next morning with two Philly teams tied for first place. Unfortunately, my demeanor has changed dramatically since then. In the ESPN game, Johan Santana did what he gets paid to do, Uncle Cholly got ejected, and Carlos Delgado continued his assault on NL pitching to keep the Mets two games in front. Two clunkers against the Marlins later and the Phillies are going the wrong way in the standings at a rapid rate.

Now, is it impossible for them to come back and make the playoffs? Hell tidda naw. Lest we forget, the Phils were 6.5 behind New York (NL) at the same point last year and as the miniature '2007 NL East Champions' flag above my computer reminds me daily, we already did it once.

But when your favorite team can't get a runner home from third with less than two out, and two of your starting pitchers struggle to reach the fifth inning, you aren't exactly confident about it. Besides, what the Metros did wasn't called a "historic collapse" because it happens every year.

Since I have absolutely no idea how this weekend (or the season, for that matter) will play out, let's look at some series pluses and minuses for the Phillies after the jump:

PLUS: No C.C. Sabathia — The Phillies receive the rare honor of missing the most-dominant of the Brewer pitching staff in a four-game set. Which is awfully lucky if you think about it, because you could practically count that as an 'L' before they even take the diamond. Ben Sheets pitches game one, but the Phils usually hold their own against hard-throwing righties. After that, we face —in order of appearance — Manny Parry, Dave Bush, and Jeff Suppan. I'm thinking they could muster up some runs against those guys.

MINUS: Jamie Moyer on 3-days' rest — Because of the giant wrench that Kyle Kendrick tried to throw in Phillies collective cog of a rotation (tried being the operative word, he walked the cog on four pitches), Charlie Manuel is trying his best to align a competent pitching staff for the rest of the year. The latest move is to send Jamie Moyer to the mound on 3-days' rest. The last time Jamie did this, he was a spry 41-year old in 2004 and proceeded to allow 6-runs in the first inning. If his start tonight even mildly resembles that, the Phillies could be in for a looong weekend.

PLUS: The Brewers have to come to The Bank — Since the Iggles don't play until Monday night, that means the entire city has all weekend to focus their attention towards the Fightin' Phils. Citizens Bank Park is sold out for every game (I have primo seats for Friday Night when Hollywood Hamels pitches) and if the Brewers allow our rabid fans to stay crazy, a four-game sweep is definitely possible. Just ask the Los Angeles Dodgers, who came here a few weeks ago and left with a 4-game losing streak.

MINUS: Baseball Prospectus says the Phillies have no chance — According to BP's latest Postseason Odds Report, the Phillies have a 16.52% chance of making the 'offs while the Brewers have much healthier odds at 80.72%. Now, if I left the house in the morning and the weather-nerd said there was a 16.52% chance of rain, I surely wouldn't grab my umbrella. But then again, I'm a man and I don't use umbrellas anyway. I guess what I'm trying to say is, odds are for mathematicians and people who are scared of rain.

PLUS: My new favorite ballgirl, Justine — Just look at her. They don't make 'em like that in Milwaukee. I predict at least three errors from Corey Hart as he's mesmerized by the beautiful Justine sitting just a few yards away.

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PLUS: The Brewers aren't exactly known to hold onto a lead — Like the Mets, the Brewers blew a soft, cushiony lead last year, too. A late season swoon allowed the Cubs to take over the division and they're doing their best to avoid a repeat. HOWEVER, the Brew Crew have dropped 7 of their last 10 (all at home) and now embark on a 10-game road trip starting in Philly. If they don't step it up, the Phillies, Astros, and Cardinals could all be in prime position to overthrow them. But the Phillies hold the distinct advantage of getting to play them head-to-head. At least they sort-of control their own fate.

Taking three out of four is acceptable, a sweep is fantastic, but anything less and I'm headed out to grab my DeSean Jackson jersey and prepare for a season of football Sundays. Either way, screw the Cowboys.

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