Wheeler and the Phillies
South Philadelphia will be rockin' tonight as the Phillies welcome the Marlins to Citizens Bank Park for Game 1 of the MLB Wild Card Series. Zack Wheeler will start for the Phils, aiming to lead the club to an all-important victory in the first game of the three-game series. 

The 33-year-old faced the Marlins three times this season, tossing six frames in each outing while surrendering just six runs. He walked only four and whiffed 23. 

The Marlins enter Tuesday having won the season series against the Phillies, 7-6. The Fish also won four of six contests this year at Citizens Bank Park. 

"They got a good lineup, a deep lineup," Wheeler said. "Kind of scrappy, but they can put together some innings, and they know how to play ball, I feel like they have a good approach, but you just have to keep them off the bases. They do have speed, and they'll get after you a bit. You just have to pound the zone and try to keep them off the bases." 

Rob Thomson's squad clinched a postseason berth a week ago, giving the skipper an opportunity to rest some regulars and shuffle his pitching staff. The Phillies didn't have that luxury last year, clinching their postseason spot in the final weekend of the regular season. 

"I think we are a little bit better of a club this year than last year," Thomson said. "We clinched the wild-card spot earlier this year as opposed to last year, so we were sprinting all the way to the end and had the ability to give some guys a rest this year, which hopefully will help us." 

The Phillies are heavy favorites to win the series, but since when has the opinion of a bookmaker mattered? 

"You have to go out, and you have to play, and you have to perform," Thomson said Monday. "When you get a team down, you have to put your foot on their neck and put them away. I think they've constantly got that message over the course of the year, and I do know they know how good this Marlins team is, so I'm not worried about them taking anybody lightly to tell you the truth. 

"I think they understand how good the Marlins are. They understand that the Marlins have beat us in the season series this year." 

The Phillies completed a two-game sweep in Saint Louis last year in the NL Wild Card Series. Wheeler pitched the first game and tossed 6 1/3 scoreless innings en route to a 6-3 victory. The Phillies didn't host a postseason contest last year until Game 3 of the NLDS. 

Philly will be front and center though this year with a primetime audience as the curtain falls on baseball's postseason. 

The fans did Philadelphia proud last season. 

"I expect it to be same this year, maybe a little more," Wheeler said with smile. "It was special, and it was loud. You could feel it, you could literally feel it. Hopefully they bring that energy again this year right away."

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