It's common to hear players speak of the importance of every game at this time of year. We'll ignore for the moment the notion that previous games counted less and indulge this notion.
To be sure, the next three games do count a lot since they involve head-to-head meetings between the two teams currently tied for the Wild Card lead. The last time the Phillies met the Giants was in San Francisco, where they were lucky to escape with one victory in three tries. Many believe they owed that lone win to Giants' skipper Bruce Bochy's ill-advised lifting of starter Tim Lincecum. Ironically, it was the last time Lincecum was the his old dominant self. Since then, he's struggled, so naturally the Phils won't see him in this series.
These next three days will come down to which team blinks first. The Phils will be sending two of their top three pitchers against the Giants whose offense is currently led by former Phil Pat Burrell. The Phillies had hoped to have Ryan Howard and Chase Utley back for the series. Only Utley has a chance to play and there are still some questions whether or not he will be available. Howard, on the other hand, is definitely out for the series.
If Roy Oswalt can get the Phils off to a good start this evening, the momentum will clearly belong to the home team. They're going to need it because the Atlanta Braves keep pulling off late inning heroics and don't look like they are going away.
Players are also fond of saying this kind of pennant race is what they dream of. For veterans Oswalt and Mike Sweeney in particular, they can make their dreams come true.