The Philadelphia Phillies expected to be preparing for the playoffs at this point in the year. Instead they’ll miss out on the postseason for the ninth consecutive season.
The Phillies will try to win for the sixth time in seven games when they close a three-game series with the Montreal Expos at Olympic Stadium.
Bolstered by the offseason additions of closer Billy Wagner and starter Eric Milton, the Phillies were picked by many to advance to the postseason for the first time since 1993. Instead, they have hovered near .500 for much of the season and have not been a legitimate factor in the playoff race for several weeks.
With eight games remaining in the regular season, the Phillies are fifth in the NL wild-card race—seven games behind the Chicago Cubs. They need to finish 6-2 just to match last season’s mark of 86-76.
“Obviously, it would be a little more exciting if we were in the playoff race and coming home, but right now it’s kind of the same like it has been the last 10 years,” Lieberthal said. “I don’t think it changes, really you go through the same routine regardless as to where you are in the standings.”
Tony Batista hit a solo homer in the bottom half of the inning off Wagner, who got three outs for his 19th save in 23 chances.
The Expos, who have lost three of four, hope Livan Hernandez can deliver another strong start in the series finale.
Hernandez had lost consecutive starts—giving up 11 earned runs over 14 1-3 innings—before a 6-1 complete-game win over the New York Mets on Tuesday. The Cuban right-hander allowed six hits while striking out five and walking one.
“We got him some runs to work with and he did the rest of it,” Expos manager Frank Robinson said.
Despite the victory, Hernandez could find little joy in the way Montreal’s season has turned out.
“It’s a tough year for a lot of people on this team,” Hernandez said. “A lot of guys have been hurt. This team is really good.”