Keep Your Seat Belts Buckled For Final Week

The Phillies missed an opportunity to control their own destiny Sunday when they dropped the final game of a ten-game road trip. Even so, their 8-2 trip has them in the battle for a wild card berth and possibly even a division title.

Had you told the Phillies they would have an 8-2 road trip, they would have gladly taken it. In the end though, even though that's exactly what they did, there was still some disappointment. A 5-3 loss to the Washington Nationals Sunday pushed the Phillies 2.5 games behind the New York Mets, who took the final three games of their series in Florida. Luckily for the Phillies, the Colorado Rockies knocked off the San Diego Padres, keeping the Phillies just one-half game behind San Diego in the wild card fight.

The Week Ahead

The Phillies get to finish out the season at home. The Atlanta Braves come in for three games starting Tuesday night. When the schedule came out, these games were hoped to be the ones that might determine the division, but the Braves are on the brink of elimination. Atlanta has been all but eliminated in the East, trailing the Mets by 5.5 games. They're also hanging on to slim hopes for the wild card, trailing the Padres by 3.5 games heading into the final week. The Phillies have gone 7-8 against Atlanta this season.

Next weekend, the Washington Nationals come in for three game to wrap up the season. The Nats have played both the Phillies and Mets tough late in the season and have vowed not to give an inch to either team as the battle for the division title comes down to the wire. More than any other team right now, the Nationals have a bigger impact on the playoff hunt, playing both the Mets and Phillies this week. After taking three-of-four in Washington, the Phillies - who are 42-32 at home - are 10-5 against the Nationals this season.

NL East Champions?

The Phillies have one distinct advantage over both the Mets and Padres; a day off. While the Phillies will be off Monday, both New York and San Diego have to play every day this week.

The Mets return home for seven games - three each against Washington and Florida and a make-up game against the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday. The Mets are 9-6 against Washington and 9-5 against Florida this season and have won five-of-six against the Cardinals. They're also 40-34 at home.

The Phillies would have to win all six games and hope for three Mets losses this week to finish in a tie for the division title. That's pretty much to hope for.

NL Wild Card?

The Padres hit the road for seven games, starting with three in San Francisco. From there, they head to Milwaukee for four games to wrap up the season. The Padres have dominated those two teams this season, going 12-3 against the Giants and 3-0 against Milwaukee. The good news is that the Padres are just 38-36 on the road this season, providing some hope there.

Clearly, the Phillies best hope is a wild card berth. Ideally, the Giants will knock off the Padres Monday in San Fran to put the Phillies and Padres in a dead heat. The Giants have nothing to play for and by the time the Padres hit Beer City, the Brewers may have been eliminated from the playoff hunt, since they trail the Cubs by 3.5 games heading into the final week of the season.

The next week will be one of scoreboard watching and hoping. Keep your seat belts buckled and your eyes fixed squarely on the scores for the next seven days.

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