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Penultimate Penance - Nationals 4, Phillies 2

Darin Ruf's two-homer game couldn't save the Phillies' bullpen from garbage-time defeat at the hands of the Nationals.

Rob Carr - Getty Images

"Tonight's key to the game: play the game."

-Larry Andersen

On a night when all of Washington was, apparently, hungover from last nights' extracurricular activities, 33,546 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco found both the wherewithal and Ibuprofen to watch the Phillies 2012 themselves towards a .500 record. B.J. Rosenberg made a spot start in lieu of an injured Tyler Cloyd (everyone who imagined such a thing were possible in April go away, because you're not real), and pitched well. In fact, other than six stinkers, Rosbngre (whatever) has pitched quite well, with a kERA of 0.44 since August 3. Tonight, he managed four innings, scattering three hits and two walks around three strikeouts.

Between Rosenberg's relative sparkliness and Darin Ruf's two homeruns, the Phillies would seem to have been in the driver's seat against a Nationals' lineup that probably should still not be driving. Sadly, because 2012. Jake Diekman pitched a scoreless inning, giving way to Josh "Should of Kept Shane" Lindblom, who failed to uphold one of Sweden's three important traditions: dynamite manufacturing, neutrality and shut-down relievers. Lindblom then ceded Finland to Russia punched the Phillies' newly inept offense in the neck.

So, bright spots. Darin Ruf. That is all. He is, in all likelihood, on his was to The City of Regression aboard the Unsustainability Bus (with stops in 2012 and Pittsburgh). However, over the last eight games, since he has been a "regular," Ruf has constructed a .355/.364/.774/1.138 line, including all of the Phillies' runs over the last four games against Washington, and an eight-game hitting streak. He has, at the very least, purchased his invitation to Spring Training, and serious consideration for some form of role, in 2013. No, with this team, he's not going to take Howard's job; but he certainly deserves the chance to try.

Kevin Frandsen is most likely blazing Ruf's trail, but he certainly has been a pleasant surprise, raking two doubles tonight, on an injured leg. His defense has been more exciting than it should, but Frandsen has certainly done his part to ease our suffering this year.

Fangraph of Beshititude and Ineptitistry:

Source: FanGraphs

The Phillies are now 81-80. Here, at the end of days, there lies a train station. Tomorrow, two trains leave the station, and the Phillies have a ticket aboard the .506. Let's hope they make it. Cliff Lee, 2012's poster child, makes his final appearance (oh, he does?) against Washington's Edwin Jackson. Jackson will try to steal our luggage.

Winter begins tomorrow night. Be ready.