October 1 Camden Courier-Post:
“On Aug. 26, the Phillies wrapped up a disastrous homestand by losing the fourth game of a series to the Astros, who won all four games. The Braves held a three-game lead in the division, and manager Charlie Manuel’s club was struggling to find answers.
It was one of a handful of low points this year, Manuel said, but it also marked a turning point.
“Since then, if you go back and look, we’ve really played some good baseball,” he said. “When you pitch well and can score at the right time, that’s the mark of a good team.”
Indeed, the Phillies have played good baseball since then. They’ve posted a 25-7 record since Houston’s four-game sweep, and that division deficit quickly evaporated.
Now, what was supposed to be a season-defining series in Atlanta has become meaningless. The Phillies have wrapped up the division, clinched the best record in the league and are playing better than any team in baseball as the regular season draws to a close.
So much for those big games against the Braves.
But while these games don’t matter in the standings, that doesn’t mean Manuel won’t be asking his team to finish on a high note as they head into the playoffs. That will start with the Phillies’ starters seeing plenty of action.
“I’m going to play them in Atlanta,” Manuel said. “I don’t know how much, but I might play them a big part of the games. We’re going to play some front-line players.”
The lineup for the final two games in Washington this week included a handful of backups, a number of September call-ups and a few cameos by the starters.
But while rest can be a big advantage for the Phillies at this point, Manuel also doesn’t want to see his team get rusty before the playoffs.
“We plan on being competitive,” he said.
Third baseman Placido Polanco got his fourth cortisone shot of the year this week, but he’ll play in at least one game this weekend. Jimmy Rollins will continue to play shortstop as he recovers from a hamstring strain. Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth will all be in the lineup at some point.”
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