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Time To Put The NL East “Playoff Race” To Bed

Sep 22, 2009, 4:03 PM EDT

It's probably fair to say this September hasn't been as exciting as the past few, or the very least, not nearly as dramatic.  Sure, there have been swoons, injuries, hitting droughts, bullpen issues, and plenty of interesting discussions about the potential makeup of the playoff roster.  That's kind of the point though.  We've been talking about the Phillies playoff roster, particularly the pitching staff, since July.  There really hasn't been any doubt all summer about who was going to win the division.

Now it's time to make it official.  Following their 2-1 series victory over the Braves this weekend, the Phillies look to continue pushing the race out of reach in tonight's double header versus the Marlins.  That's if it isn't out of reach already.

For starters, the Fish haven't beaten the Phillies at home once this year in six tries.  The good guys have scored a total of 41 runs at Land Shark Stadium while allowing a meager 14.  It's not surprising there isn't much of a home field advantage in all those vacant seats, but the numbers are staggering.  Clearly this is a very comfortable setting for the Fightins.

They are going against Josh Johnson in game one, who has had a fantastic season, sporting a 15-4 record with a 3.01 ERA.  In two '09 starts against the Phils, he is 1-0 with one earned run allowed in 13 innings of work and 14 strikeouts.  As always he'll be tough to solve.  He's 4-1 with a 3.38 ERA in his career versus the Fightins.

Joe Blanton takes the mound, and he looks to continue a stellar season of his own.  He rebounded from a poor outing in Washington on Septmber 10 (first time he had allowed more than 3 ER since June 18) to throw six shutout innings and pick up the win against the same Nats six days later.  His jump in performance this year is a good sign as the Phils look to repeat.

Game one starts at 4:10.  Time to put things away.