Aim high. Isn't that what they always say?
The Phils should forget the Wild Card and line those New York Mets up in the cross hairs. The division title is theirs for the taking. The Philies continue their amazing string of come-from-behind victories, tops in the major leagues this season, and inch closer to the Mets. With nine games to play the Phils trail New York by 1.5 games. Much bigger deficits have been overcome before; much bigger leads have also been surrendered.
So much rides on these next nine games apart from the most obvious one, an end to the Phillies' fourteen year post-season drought. There is also the small matter of Jimmy Rollins' pre-season prediction his team was the one to beat in the East. Jimmy has never backed off from that statement and now with a little more than a week to go he can almost taste the redemption. Then, there is the not so small matter of bragging rights. Chants of "Let's Go Mets" would be just a wee bit more muted next season in games at Citizens Bank Park should the Amazins' complete their nearly-historic collapse. And finally, there is the strong likelihood that the same Mr. Rollins would become a leading candidate for NL MVP if he leads his team to the Promised Land.
Ah, but we are getting ahead of ourselves. The Phils still have six games remaining against the pesky Nationals, who gave them all they could handle last night, and three against Atlanta, which is suddenly on a roll again.
The pitching staff remains as unpredictable as the weather in Texas. If the starters aren't imploding, the bullpen is...and vice versa. One guy who keeps surprising to the upside is J.D. Durbin, who threw his second straight superb relief performance after losing his tenuous spot in the starting rotation with a few absolutely awful outings. Tonight, Adam Eaton seeks redemption for his rotten season. If he gives his team five or six solid innings, most but not all that has come before might be forgiven.
The offense, meanwhile, continues to deliver when all hope seems lost. If it isn't the quartet of Rollins, Utley, Howard and Rowand delivering, supersubs Jayson Werth and Greg Dobbs can be counted on to step into the breach.
Nine games to go. They will be exciting.