Philadelphia Phillies Look To Clinch NL East Title With Win Tonight
On September 30, 2007, the Philadelphia Phillies began what has become one of their best three-year runs in franchise history. On that day, they defeated the Washington Nationals 6-1 to clinch the National League Eastern division crown.
Almost a year later, the Phils reclaimed their title as division champions by once again defeating the Nationals.
Moving to 2009, we see this same opportunity once again.
The thought-to-be insurmountable eight-game lead over the Atlanta Braves had taken a considerable hit, shrinking to as low as four. For days, the Phils' magic number seemed to be at a standstill.
Tonight, exactly two years after their first division title in 14 years, the Phillies can clinch their third consecutive NL East championship with either a win or an Atlanta Braves loss.
Jamie Moyer started each of the clinchers in '07 and '08, but it will be Pedro Martinez taking the ball tonight against Houston.
For the Astros, Brad Moehler will make the start. Moehler is 8-11 with a 5.21 ERA. His last outing lasted just 2.1 innings when he allowed seven runs and eight hits.
Martinez is 5-1 with a 3.32 ERA in a Phillies uniform and 3-1 with a 2.55 ERA in September. Pedro missed he last start due to a neck injury, but is set to make his return tonight.
Cliff Lee was originally slated to be the starter, but was given an extra day of rest by manager Charlie Manuel. Instead, Lee is set to start tomorrow.
In the bullpen, Brett Myers appears to be ready for his return. Pitching coach Rich Dubee has stated that Myers is available to pitch in relief tonight if he is needed.
With the return of Myers comes the queston of who will finally become to team's official closer.
Ryan Madson has been strong as of late in the role, but still has yet to prove he can consistently produce in the ninth inning. Myers converted 21-of-24 save opportunities in his first stint as closer in 2007, and may be the most reliable option.
All we know for certain is that Brad Lidge will not be the one taking the mound in save situations, especially in the postseason.
For now, the Phillies will throw aside their closer woes and turn their focus into winning games. The division title is most important in the minds of the Phillies right now. If they happen to find their closer over the last week of the season, it will only be icing on the cake for what has been yet another special season.
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