Something strange happened over the course of three and a half hours of seemingly meaningless baseball on Sunday afternoon: I started to care whether the Phillies won this game. Maybe it was listening to the Marlins announcers, who deliver the sort of relentless and obnoxious boosterism I imagine one heard in mid-size midwestern towns around 1928. Maybe it was the ongoing redemption of Miguel Cairo, who made his last, best case for a spot on the postseason roster with a homer and a triple. Maybe it was just annoyance at the flat performances the Phils had turned in since clinching the division Wednesday night. Maybe it was a desire to see this year's team surpass last year's win total.
Whatever my reason, it seemed like the team gradually got into it too. They fell behind 2-0, 5-2, and 6-5, and came back every time, finally putting away the Marlins on a tenth-inning RBI single by third string catcher Paul Hoover off the glove of Florida's Wes Helms that scored John Mayberry Jr. Both players, who actually came off the bench during the game, are very unlikely to see the field again this October; but they, like fellow reserves Cairo, Eric Bruntlett, Greg Dobbs and Ben Francisco, played with a lot more energy than most of the Phils' regulars have shown since last week's clincher. (Francisco's three caught stealings, two on overslides of the second base bag, remind us that energy isn't everything, but still.) The one regular who did play was Jayson Werth, who couldn't pick up his 100th RBI--the Marlins intentionally walked him with Mayberry on second in the 10th--but did steal two bases to finish with 20 on the season.
On the pitching side, J.A. Happ allowed the obligatory two first-inning runs, pitched a scoreless second, and then took a seat. Kyle Kendrick started strongly with two scoreless innings, but allowed three runs in the fifth. Clay Condrey and Brett Myers recorded one out each, Sergio Escalona worked an inning and two-thirds, and Jack Taschner, Scott Eyre and Chad Durbin each pitched a scoreless frame as Charlie Manuel auditioned pretty much every reliever on the bubble for a first-round playoff roster spot.
Rockies manager Jim Tracy announced this afternoon that Ubaldo Jiminez is likely to be his Game One starter; the Phillies have yet to choose between Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels for the start of the Division Series on Wednesday.