Phils clinch fourth straight playoff berth
Two-time defending NL champs can do no worse than Wild Card
PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies had rolls of plastic hung over their lockers Sunday in the event they clinched their fourth consecutive National League East title.
It didn't happen.
The Phillies lost to the New York Mets at Citizens Bank Park, 7-3.
But because the Cincinnati Reds beat the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park, 12-2, the Philadelphia still clinched a playoff berth. The Phillies learned they clinched on their way to Washington for a three-game series against the Nationals, which begins Monday at Nationals Park.
The Phillies clinched because only one National League West team can finish with 93 wins.
The Phillies are 93-63 with six games to play.
If the Atlanta Braves (87-69) win their remaining games, they can finish with no more than 93 wins.
The Padres (87-68) and San Francisco Giants (88-68) are competing for the NL West title, with the Giants holding a half-game lead. They play each other in a three-game series at AT&T Park in San Francisco next weekend. If both teams win every game leading up to that series, they both would be 91-68.
One of those teams obviously will win at least two of those games, pushing one team to at least 93 wins while the other team finishes with no more than 92.
Thus, the Phillies have made the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season.
But a playoff berth was not going to get the Phillies celebrating Sunday. They want the division championship.
"We're focused on tomorrow and our plan is to win," Chase Utley said.
"Our goal is to win the division," Cole Hamels said. "That's what we're on pace to do. It's just a matter of going out there tomorrow and getting the job done."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.