The NL wild card won’t be decided this weekend when the Philadelphia Phillies visit the Florida Marlins for three games. A strong performance by either team, however, could set them up nicely for the final two weeks of the season.
With its 4-1 victory over Florida on Thursday, Houston moved atop the wild-card standings with a half-game lead over Philadelphia and the Marlins.
The Phillies had a four-game winning streak snapped Thursday with a 6-4 loss to Atlanta. Washington is doing everything it can to make it a four-team race, winning three straight to pull within 2 1/2 games of the Astros.
Philadelphia may have the most difficult remaining schedule of all the wild-card contending teams. The Phillies play 12 of their final 15 on the road, including three each at Florida, Atlanta and Washington.
“I feel confident. I think 87 or 88 wins will win this,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.
Florida, which plays nine of its final 15 games at home, closes the regular season with six home games against Atlanta and Washington.
“We’ve got all the contenders,” Marlins manager Jack McKeon said. “We’ve got everything in front of us.”
Houston figures to have the easiest remaining schedule with seven combined games left against Milwaukee and Pittsburgh, and seven more against the Chicago Cubs.
Having these three games at Dolphins Stadium is a bonus for the Marlins, who have historically played well at home against the Phillies. Since the start of the 2003 season, Florida is 18-7 at home against Philadelphia, including 4-2 this season.
After losing two of three at Philadelphia, the Marlins settled for a four-game split with the Astros.
Although he was limited to one single Thursday, Carlos Delgado had a very productive road trip for Florida. In 11 games, the slugging first baseman was 17-for-41 (.417) with three homers and eight RBIs.
While Delgado is Florida’s hottest hitter, shortstop Jimmy Rollins has assumed that role for Philadelphia.
Rollins had three more hits Thursday, extending his career-best hitting streak to 21 games. He is batting .354 (33-for-93) with 15 runs scored during the streak. Since 1900, the longest hitting streak by a Phillie was 26 games by Chuck Klein in 1930.