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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

October Baseball

Phillies fans woke up with October baseball on their minds this morning, along with various excuses to leave work early to catch the 3pm start. How the Phils got another fairly crappy schedule for the playoffs with both New York teams sitting at home on October 1st is beyond me. Somehow having the last two MVPs isn’t enough for TBS? This is a network that was running Friends marathons a year ago. But at least it let’s us mention that both New York teams are at home.

Here’s what I’ll be looking for from the Phils to avoid last year’s you-missed-it-if-you-blinked playoff appearance:

• A good start to the game today. It doesn’t have to be great, just good. Cole Hamels needs to get through the first inning easily, and avoid the big home run through five. Offensively, a few hits in the first few innings will hopefully keep the offense from squeezing the bats too hard. This team starts pressing faster than any in recent memory. They need to ease into it and not panic, and help fans do the same.

• I still think Chase Utley is the key to this offense. Ryan Howard will strikeout a lot – it’s just who he is at this point – but his production will be there over the long haul. Utley makes more contact, and he needs to do that today to keep the rest of the lineup relaxed.

• I always think this team should run more, but especially now. Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino should have the proverbial “green light” to steal every time they’re on base. They don’t have time to wait for the hits to come in a playoff series. Davey Lopes is reportedly a great base-stealing coach, and that seems to be evident when they run. They need to prove it more often, and make things happen.

The Phillies should absolutely beat this team. C.C. Sabathia has pitched over 100 pitches in his last three starts, and pitched on short rest each time. That tells you even the Milwaukee Brewers know that with Ben Sheets hurt, Sabathia’s their only top-flight pitcher. Hell, this team fired its manager in mid-September.

The Brewers are already done. The Phils just need to not give them any reason to think they can win this series.

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