The Phillies (27-22) continue their trip to Houston with their second of four games against the Astros (27-22, 3rd National League Central) at Minute Maid Park. The game will start at 8:05 pm Eastern (7:05 pm Central). The Phillies will send to the mound Adam Eaton (0-2, 5.59), who is coming off a lost against the Toronto Blue Jays on May 17, where he went only five innings as he gave up four earned runs on eight hits, in the Phillies’ 6-3 lost. In his previous start against the Astros back on April 15, he would pitch six innings as he gave up three earned runs on seven hits while receiving a no-decision, in the Phils’ dramatic 4-3 come from behind win. Eaton will be looking for his first win of the year while Phillies fans wonder how much longer he’ll stay in the starting rotation. The Astros will counter with Brandon Backe (3-5, 4.58), who is coming off a win against the Texas Rangers on May 18, where he pitched six and a third innings, giving up only three earned runs on five hits, in the Astros’ 5-4 victory. In his previous start against the Phils on April 17, he took the lost as he pitched only three innings as he gave up five earned runs on ten hits, in the Astros’ 10-2 lost. He will be trying to improve his record while trying to get even for his earlier defeat at the hands of the Phillies’ offense.
Speaking of the offense, after being able to score only one run in the first eighteen innings of their series in Washington against the Nationals, the Phils have since then scored ninteen runs in the last eighteen innings. While some runs have come via the long ball, most of them have come via the use of small ball. Hopefully it’ll continue during the rest of their road trip. Also, Ryan Howard appears to be on a hitting tear, as he has gone six for his last ten at bats, hitting two doubles and three home runs, while knocking in six RBIs and scoring four runs. Howard is now hitting over .200 with a batting average of .207. But Howard appears to be not the only Phils on a tear as Shane Victorino has just raised his batting average to .263 as he has gotten eight hits in his last four starts, including two doubles and a home run. And Pedro Feliz in his last three starts has gone seven for thirteen with a home run, raising his average to .252. Hopefully the bats will continue to strike during their stay in Houston.
The Phillies are a game and a half behind the Marlins, who will start a three games series in Miami against the Giants. They are technically tied for second with the Braves, trailing them by .002 percentage points, as they begin a four games series at home against the presently reeling Diamonbacks. Both they and the Braves are three games ahead of the Mets, who are continuing their own road trip with a three games series with the Rockies in Denver. After Sunday’s afternoon game with the Astros, the Phils will come home to start a ten games home stand, starting with a three games series with the reigning National League Champion Colorado Rockies. The Phillies will be trying to keep pace with the Marlins and Braves while trying to stay even further ahead of the presently floundering Mets.