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The Aftermath: Game 153

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The Mets won a game on the same day as the Astros lost one, temporarily postponing the official end of the Mets' playoff chances. Their Tragic Number stands at two, so any combination of two Mets losses and Astros wins will seal the deal.

Meanwhile, the Phillies won another game in cartoonish fashion tonight, pulling to within just one game of Los Astros.

Trailing 10-6 going into the ninth, the Phillies got off to a fast start in the final frame. Jimmy Rollins, who earlier extended his hitting streak to 28 games, singled to lead off the inning and was moved to second on a single by the 53-year-old Kenny Lofton. Chase Utley then crushed a three-run homerun to rightfield to pull the Phighting Phillies to within one run with the big boys coming up.

Bobby Abreu and Pat "The Bat" Burrell each struck out, leaving the Phillies with a single out and nobody on. Budding superstar Ryan Howard drew a walk and Mr. 1095 himself David Bell hit just his 10th homerun of the season, a two-run shot that proved to be the eventual game-winner.

There's a lot to like about the Phillies when they aren't piddling all over the Mets' playoff chances. The right side of their infield may be even more promising than the Mets' left side. Howard is hitting .290/.357/.564 in his first season and is just 25 years old. He has managed to accrue 279 at-bats in Jim Thome's absence, and the only knock against Howard's offensive game is his strikeout rate: he has 92! He has drawn a respectable number of walks (29) and the strikeouts are naturally masked by his outstanding rate stats.

The Phillies don't have a particularly good pitching staff, though they have a group of serviceable starters and a generally passable bullpen topped off by Billy Wagner who has been crazy good this season: 1.50 ERA, 76/20 K/BB in 71 innings.

You can't root for the Braves, I don't particularly care for the Cardinals, and I can't fathom rooting for any team that Roger Clemens is on, so from now until the Phillies have inexorably been denied a playoff berth for the 13th consecutive season I will be rooting for the Philadelphia to emerge from the National League.