Chase Utley Returns as Phillies Roll the Giants

Written By Bob Cunningham On Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Utley's return will prolong the Phillies' hot-streak.

Chase Utley returned to the lineup Tuesday night, but that's about all there is to report on that front. An o-5 performance from Utley means he's probably fighting some discomfort and loss of strength in that thumb, but he played the field well and should quickly improve at the plate.

The game itself, however, was much more intriguing -- if you're a Phillies fan.

It was a game of two teams heading in two opposite directions as the Giants' slide continues and the Phillies' patented August playoff push continued to chug along.

Besides allowing two home runs -- one to former Phillie Pat Burrell and the Giants' newest acquisition, Jose Guillen -- Roy Oswalt swept through the San Francisco lineup with relative ease and continued to make Ruben Amaro Jr. look like a genius.

Jimmy Rollins showed up with a two-run single in the fifth inning, and Shane Victorino, just off the DL as well, hit a two-run double in the sixth inning to put the Phils up for good. A five-run eighth inning sealed the deal and the Phils sent the Giants back to their hotel down one game in the series.

Overall, that's not too terribly exciting, but the win could have had playoff implications as the Phillies are now the top dogs in the NL wild card race.

And despite the fact that the Phillies are acting like it doesn't matter and are still aiming to win the division, holding onto the final playoff spot will be very important moving forward.

I understand the importance of winning the division. There's a certain momentum a team gets as the division champs and the Phillies have used that the past two seasons to make it to the World Series.

However, it's just about getting in. Regardless of the seeding or whether or not they win the NL East, the main focus has to be just getting an invite to play in October.

The playoffs are a new season and every division leader in the NL is hoping the Atlanta Braves are able to keep winning and that either the Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers, Colorado Rockies, St. Louis Cardinals, or anyone else is able to take the final spot and keep the Phils at home.

With a revitalized rotation and a lineup that's finally playing close to their potential, the Phillies are the last team anyone in the NL wants to see.

But with Utley back, and Ryan Howard expected to return at some point this week, it's going to be very hard to keep this team from heading back to the playoffs for a fourth consecutive season.

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