It would be unwise for Phils to look past series with Rockies

Posted: September 10, 2007

The Phillies have now completed a streak of 13 straight games against National League East teams. On Friday, they go to Shea Stadium to open an important weekend series against the first-place Mets.

Under the circumstances, it would be understandable if they overlooked the Rockies, their opponents for the next 4 nights at Citizens Bank Park.

It would also be a mistake.

If there's one team that holds the key to the postseason, it might just be Colorado.

After finishing a weekend series against the Padres yesterday at Coors Field, they have 20 games left, and 17 of them are against teams still in contention for a postseason spot: Phillies (four), Dodgers (seven), Padres (three) and Diamondbacks (three).

Who they beat - and who they don't beat - figures to have profound impact on the chances of the Phillies, who need to win their own games as well as get some help against the NL West teams they're in the wild-card mix with.

"This is going to be a good test for us," first baseman Todd Helton told reporters last week. "We need to win and now."

Added rightfielder Brad Hawpe: "These are the teams we have to beat. We don't want to just make the playoffs. We want to keep on winning when we get there."

The Phillies are second in the wild-card standings, two games behind the Padres, a half-game ahead of the Dodgers and one game ahead of the Rockies.

Like the Phillies, Colorado has been a resilient team. Through May 21, they were 18-27 and in last place of the NL West. Since then, they have gone 56-41, the third-best record in the majors in that span behind only the Yankees and Angels, despite an eight-game losing streak in June.

They have 41 come-from-behind wins and won 10 of their last 15 games despite having two rookies, lefthander Franklin Morales and righthander Ubaldo Jiminez, and journeyman righthander Elmer Dessens in their starting rotation.

The Rockies might not win the wild card. But if they don't, they figure to have a big say in who does. *

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