Magic Number: One

Ryan Howard hits another home run in September. Yawn.

Get the champagne ready.

Get the VO, too.

Just don't wheel it into the clubhouse yet.

"We don't take nothing for granted in this game," manager Charlie Manuel said after last night's 8-4 victory over the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park. "I learned that a long time ago. I like our position. I'll like our position better when we're two up with one to play. That'll be good. That's when I'll drink champagne and V.O. and dance and sing and everything."

The magic number is one, which makes today a terribly important day for the Phillies. A victory over the Nationals or a Mets loss to the Florida Marlins and the Phillies clinch their second consecutive National League East championship. It goes without saying that clinching a playoff berth on any day is important. But here is why clinching today is really important: it would allow the Phillies to rest Cole Hamels tomorrow. Rest Hamels, and he starts in Game 1 of the National League division series. Rest Hamels, and the Phillies can pitch him twice in the NLDS. That becomes even more important if the Milwaukee Brewers win the NL wild card. CC Sabathia is going to pitch tomorrow on short rest for the third consecutive start. That means he probably would be available just once against the Phillies. That would be a good thing.

Not that there's ever a bad day to be popping champagne, but it would be much better to do it today than tomorrow.


Charlie! Charlie! Charlie!

Phil Sheridan talks about the curtain call of sorts Manuel got last night.


The latest Baseball Prospectus postseason odds:

  • The Phillies have a 97.66 percent chance to win the NL East, a 1.58 percent chance to win the NL wild card and a 99.24 percent chance to make the playoffs.
  • The Mets have a 2.34 percent chance to win the NL East, a 21.99 percent chance to win the wild card and a  24.33 percent chance to make the playoffs.
  • The Brewers have a 76.43 percent chance to win the wild card. 


In the Phillies Notebook: Jamie Moyer is looking forward to pitching in another NL East-clinching game. Oh, and that team meeting the Phillies called at 3:15 p.m. yesterday? That was for postseason travel plans and nothing else.


Those wacky Mets are at it again.

They lost last night to the Florida Marlins at Shea Stadium, 6-1. And because they lost last night, they're pulling out the stops. Johan Santana is going to pitch on short rest this afternoon for just the second time in his career, and the first time since the 2004 American League division series against the New York Yankees. Santana pitched well that night for the Minnesota Twins. He allowed just one run and struck out seven.

"This is his choice, and he came in and begged for this game," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said.

But Santana threw a career-high 125 pitches in his last start earlier this week for the Mets. Maybe that changes things. Maybe that makes Santana less effective. Of course, if today's game gets rained out, Santana will pitch on normal rest tomorrow, so none of that will matter. Actually, it doesn't matter anyway. If the Phillies win one of these next two games, they're champs.


The Brewers took a one-game lead over the Mets in the NL wild-card race. They also said Ben Sheets is going to start today, but that might not be such a good thing.