They made huge statements against both, sweeping the Braves in three and then winning three of four on the road against the Brewers. However, there is a snake lurking in the grass.
The Saint Louis Cardinals come to town as a team on fire. As the Braves falter, the Cards are making their move to the wild card position. As tonight proved, the Cardinals can go toe to toe with the Phillies and come out victorious.
The Phillies have an anemic offense as of late. They are extremely streaky and when one batter goes into a funk it seems to bring the entire lineup down.
Ryan Howard's only hits recently have come in the pinch hitting role. His foot is shot and does not look to be getting better.
Any time he is on the base path he can only be moved one base at a time unless the batter hits a home run.
Hunter Pence is fitting right into this lineup as he has yet to see a first pitch at which he does not impulsively swing.
John Mayberry, who will be used during the playoffs, is channeling his inner Ryan Howard by striking out at key moments late in games or with runners in scoring position.
The bullpen is an absolute mess. Bastardo has become completely undependable. It has come down to Brad Lidge being the best pitcher for the middle innings.
Any game a starting pitcher for the Phillies doesn't at least reach the eighth inning, the Phillies are outmatched against the competition's bullpen.
The Cardinals' bullpen that has struggled, yet tonight they—with the exception of the laughable Jason Motte and his histrionics—totally outclassed the Phillies' bullpen which had no pitcher other than Joe Blanton available come the 11th inning.
The Cardinals' main slugger tonight, Albert Pujols went 4-for-4 and reached base six times.
The Phillies' four best offensive players in the game, Shane Victorino, Jimmy Rollins, Hunter Pence and Chase Utley, went a combined 0-for-18. This was in a game that could have clinched them the NL East, mind you.
It is becoming abundantly clear as the team heads into the postseason: The starters need to pitch the games of their lives every night. There is no run support. There are no reliable arms left in the bullpen.
The Cardinals are hot and the Braves are spiraling out of control.
When the Cardinals catch the Braves it will set up a Phillies/Cardinals series and there is not one objective person out there that thinks the Phillies can win a short series with their offensive and bullpen issues.
Especially against a lineup that features Albert Pujols, Lance Berkman and Matt Holliday.