The Phillies (41-30) will start a six games home stand and the resumption of their involvement in Interleague Play tonight by hosting the World Champion Boston Red Sox (44-28, 1st American League East) for three games. The series’ opener will be played at Citizens Bank Park and will start at 7:05 pm Eastern. The Phillies will send to the mound their ace Cole Hamels (6-4, 3.27), who is coming off a no-decision against the Marlins on June 11, where he went eight innings, giving up only two earned runs, both on solo home runs to Jorge Cantu, on three hits, in the Phils’ 6-2 lost. In his previous start against the Reds on June 5, he would pitch a complete game shut out as he gave up only three hits to the Reds, in the Phils’ 5-0 victory. This will be his first time facing the BoSox, so he will be seeing how well he pitches against an elite team of the American League while trying to get his own team back on the winning track after suffering a couple of tough loses over the weekend. His opponent will be Bartolo Colon (4-1, 3.41), who is coming off a win against the Baltimore Orioles on June 11, where he pitched six innings, giving up an earned run on five scattered hits, in the Red Sox’s 6-3 win. In his five starts, Bartolo has given up three earned runs or less in all but one of his starts. Lifetime against the Phillies, he is 1-1 with a 4.00 ERA in four starts, while this will be his first start at Citizens Bank Park. He will be trying to pitch his team past the Phils so that they can stay ahead of the surprisingly good Tampa Bay Rays.
The Phillies will be looking to regroup after losing their last two series on their recent nine games road trip, especially after yesterday’s lost to the Cardinals thanks to a pair of misconnections between Chase Utley and Tom Gordon with two men out in the bottom of the tenth which allowed the Cardinals to win the extra-inning game. The offense will be trying to once again score a lot of runs like they were doing several weeks earlier. With their upcoming series against the BoSox and the Angels, the Phillies will be seeing if they can compete with a pair of elite teams in the American League, whom they might be playing against if they get into the World Series later this year, as well as to see if any problem that they might have will be exposed now so that they can be plugged up later before the late summer and September stretch run towards the pennant.
Oh, and it seems that Cardinals’ catcher Yadier Molina has only received a concussion from his close encounter with Eric Bruntlett, but he was kept in the hospital for overnight observation, just in case. Thanks goodness. I hate to see a ballplayer get injured, no matter what the cause, or which team they play for.
Going into tonight’s game, Cole Hamels is among the National League leaders in Earned Run Average (10th), Strikeouts (4th-T), Innings Pitched (4th), Complete Games (1st-T) and Shut Outs (1st). He is also tied for 17th in Wins (6) and is tied for 16th in Games Started (14). As mentioned earlier, he will be trying to help his team defeat an elite team of the American League while improving on his stats in each category.
Inspite of the lost, the Phillies have at present the third best record in the National League, trailing only the National League Central leading Chicago Cubs (45-25), and the St. Louis Cardinals (42-29). In fact, they are at present the only National League teams to have won 40 or more games so far this season. Only three other teams in the majors have won over 40 or more games: Boston, the American League Western leading Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (42-28) and the Tampa Bay Rays (40-29). They have the best road record in the National League (20-17) and one of the best record at home (21-13). Only one other team has scored more runs than they have in the NL, the Chicago Cubs (387 (Cubs), 381 (Phils)). They are also the third best team in the NL in giving up the least runs (291), with only the Cubs (279) and the Braves (282) being better. The offense has the fifth best batting average in the NL at .264, while they are among the leaders in Slugging Percentage (1st), On-Base Percentage (4th), Walks (5th), Total Bases (1st), Runs Batted In (2nd), Home Runs (2nd), Doubles (3rd), Hits (4th) and At-Bats (3rd). The Phillies have the fourth best team ERA (3.82) in the NL, while the relief corps still has the best team ERA (2.62).
The Phillies lead the second place Marlins by three games, as they prepare to start a three games series against the Seattle Mariners in Seattle. The third place Braves, after their late lost to the Angels, are still six and a half games behind the Phillies, as they prepare to face the Rockies in Denver for a make up game, before starting a three games series against the Texas Rangers in Arlington. The fourth place Mets also trails the Phillies by six and a half games, as they get ready to meet the Angels in Anaheim for a three games series. The Phillies hope to hold their own against the World Champions, to win the series, while trying to once again get some more distance betweeen themselves and the other teams in their division.