For the third straight day, the Phillies are going with the lineup of Rollins, Utley, Pence, Howard, Victorino, Ibanez, Polanco, Ruiz and the pitcher.
For years, Utley and Howard back-to-back made sense when they were both MVP candidates. It made sense when Utley was the ideal No. 3 hitter and Howard was too dominant to bat any lower than fourth. But now, Utley is more of a No. 2 hitter and Hunter Pence - obviously the key to the new-look lineup - is capable of hitting third, splitting up the two lefties.
This lineup works for other reasons, too: Shane Victorino couldn't have batted fifth a couple of years ago, but now he can do it. Raul Ibanez or John Mayberry, at times in recent years, they would have stood out as a weakness in the six-hole. Not anymore. And Placido Polanco used to be way too good a hitter to bat seventh. Now it's his natural spot.
You probably could argue that Charlie Manuel should have gone to this new lineup earlier in the season, but the important thing is that they're using it now, they're starting to hit the ball, and the playoffs begin in four days.
The Phillies will turn to Roy Oswalt (8-10, 3.86) tonight against Braves righty Derek Lowe (9-16, 4.92). Joe Blanton will start tomorrow's regular-season finale. The Phillies can tie the club record with their 101st win tonight. If they lose, they can potentially learn their first-round fate, should the Cardinals lose, the Brewers win and the D-Backs lose. In that scenario, the Phils would play Arizona in the NLDS.