The Phillies will end another frustrating season Sunday as they try for a three-game sweep of the Marlins, who could be playing their last game under manager Joe Girardi.
Philadelphia (85-76) avoided elimination from the NL wild-card race for an hour by beating Florida 4-3 on Saturday. But subsequent victories by the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres ended the Phillies’ hopes of reaching the postseason for the first time since 1993.
The results left Philadelphia trailing the Dodgers and Padres by two games with one to play. The Phillies finished one game behind the Houston Astros in the wild-card race last year.
“We’ve got to get better,” Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel said. “We’ve got to get to a place where we can consistently win 93 to 100 games. That will put us in a position to get something—more than likely we’ll compete for our division, and the wild card will be automatic.”
Despite a second-half surge, the Phillies lost control of their destiny when they dropped three of four games to Houston and Washington at the start of the week. They fell short despite an NL-best 45 wins since the All-Star break.
The young Marlins (77-84) were in the wild-card chase less than two weeks ago, but they’ve lost 13 of their past 17 games. Florida hasn’t won a series since rookie Anibal Sanchez pitched a no-hitter Sept. 6 against Arizona.
Girardi said he expects to discuss his future at some point with owner Jeffrey Loria and general manager Larry Beinfest. Because of a rift with Loria, Girardi’s tenure as manager is expected to end after only one year. Beinfest has declined comment on Girardi’s status.
“I’m here as long as they want me to manage,” said Girardi, who took over for Jack McKeon.
Florida starts Dontrelle Willis (12-12, 3.89 ERA), who had a run of three straight wins end Tuesday. The left-hander allowed five runs in five innings in a 5-3 loss to Cincinnati that knocked the Marlins out of wild-card contention.
Willis said that even though his team is out of the playoff hunt, he wanted to pitch in the season finale.
“I take a lot of pride in taking the ball,” said Willis, who posted a 2.55 ERA during his winning streak. “You definitely don’t want to see someone celebrate when you can’t celebrate.”
Willis is 6-5 with a 3.67 ERA in 15 career starts against the Phillies. He threw a three-hitter in a 3-0 win on Sept. 10, ending a four-start losing streak against them.
The Phillies will counter with Brett Myers (12-7, 3.94 ERA), their most consistent starter this season.
Myers allowed three runs in seven innings in a 4-3 loss at Washington on Tuesday. The right-hander went 4-0 with a 2.45 ERA in his previous six starts and was coming off a complete-game, 6-2 win over the Chicago Cubs on Sept. 20.
Myers sat out nearly three weeks in late June and early July after being charged with striking his wife. He is 7-4 with a 4.02 ERA in 14 starts since then.
Myers is 5-5 with a 4.53 ERA in 16 career starts against the Marlins. He has faced them three times this season, going 1-1 with a 2.25 ERA.