The Philadelphia Phillies might not want to scoreboard watch. They have to.
This is not the way the Phillies hoped to go into the final weekend of the regular season, likely needing a three-game sweep of the Washington Nationals and plenty of help to have a shot at making the postseason.
“I think we’re out on a limb right now, hanging over a cliff and we’re trying to find a way to get back,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.
Manuel’s team goes into this series at RFK Stadium two games back of Houston for the NL wild card.
Philadelphia’s hopes of making the playoffs could end Friday if it loses to Washington and the Astros beat the Chicago Cubs. However, as long as Houston loses, the Phillies will at least still be able to force a one-game playoff that would be at Citizens Bank Park on Monday.
The Phillies won’t need a one-game playoff to reach the postseason if they sweep Washington and the Astros lose their final three games to the Cubs.
Philadelphia put itself in a precarious position by starting this week with back-to-back home losses to the New York Mets. The Phillies bounced back to win the series finale on Wednesday, 16-6.
“We put it all together,” said Chase Utley, who had a homer and five RBIs. “We still have three more to go. There’s definitely still a shot. Obviously, we need a little help.”
Wednesday’s victory also saw Jimmy Rollins run his franchise-record hitting streak to 33 games. He’s raised his season batting average from .262 to .288 during that run.
Rollins is a career .171 hitter (6-for-35) against Livan Hernandez, who starts the opener for Washington.
Hernandez, trying to avoid an eighth straight season with double-digit losses, is 2-5 with a 5.40 ERA in his last 10 starts.
The Nationals fell out of the playoff race thanks to a 6-12 stretch this month, though they rebounded this week to sweep a three-game set in Florida. Wednesday’s 11-7 victory over the Marlins meant Washington assured itself of finishing no worse than .500.
“They did not want a lot of the good things that they have done this year slip away,” said manager Frank Robinson, whose Nationals had a share of first place in the NL East as late as July 25.