With apologies to Rick Springfield Tommy Tutone (although shouldn't he really apologize to us for that song?), in 2008, the Phillies have Bobby Cox's and the Braves' number. With four games to play against each other (one tonight in Atlanta and three next week in Philly), the Phillies are now 12-2 against the Braves this year.
If the Phillies were merely good against the Braves this year, say 8-6 or 9-5, they'd be two or three games out of first place and a playoff spot. So chalk up the Phillies' success in the standings this year to their dominance against the Braves.
How have the Phillies done it? With dominant hitting -- a .938 team OPS against the Braves -- and dominant pitching -- the Braves have a .736 team OPS against the Phillies. They've outhomered the Braves 26 to 13, outscored them 89 to 62, and outrun them 17 stolen bases to 5. Interestingly, the Braves have been more patient at the plate, with 72 walks compared to the Phillies' 54. But, that doesn't make up for the sheer hitting advantage the Phillies have had, as the Phils' on base percentage of .384 still is much better than the Braves' of .350.
On the pitching side, the Phillies have a 3.61 ERA against the Braves compared to the Braves' 6.44 ERA against the Phillies. Of particular note is that Blaine Boyer has pitched in 8 of the 12 games against the Phillies and given up 13 runs in 7.33 innings for a 15.95 ERA. Why Bobby Cox keeps throwing him against the Phillies is beyond me.
The Phillies have never dominated a team like this in the unbalanced schedule era. They have twice come close though. In 1999, they had an 11-2 record against the Marlins. And, in 2001, they had a 14-5 record against the Marlins. Other than those two years, the Phillies have never approached the success they've had this year against the Braves. With four more games against the Braves and a tight playoff race, the Phillies will need to continue this success in order to make the playoffs.