The Phillies (52-44) will start the second half of the season with a three games weekend visit with the Marlins (50-45) in Miami. The first game of their three games series will be played at Dolphin Stadium and will start tonight at 7:10 pm Eastern. The Phillies will send to the mound the veteran Jamie Moyer (8-6, 3.95), who is coming off a recent victory against the Cardinals on July 10, where he went seven innings, giving up only one earned run on seven hits, in the Phillies’ 4-1 win. He has already faced the Marlins twice so far this year, winning both starts. In those two games, he has gone a combine total of fifteen innings, giving up just five earned runs on nine hits. He will be going for his ninth win of the season, while trying to start off the Phillies’ second half with a win. He will be opposed by Ricky Nolasco (10-4, 3.70), who is coming off fifth straight wins, although his last start was a no-decision against the Dodgers on July 12, where he went six innings, giving up just two earned runs on five hits, in the Marlins’ 5-3 win. In those five wins, he would go a combine total of thirty-seven and two-thirds innings, giving up only six earned runs on twenty-four hits. He has already faced the Phillies twice this year, winning both starts, going twelve and two-thirds innings, giving up only two earned runs on eight hits. He will be going for his eleventh victory of the season, while also trying to set the tone for the Marlins’ second half, especially after Andrew Miller has just been put on the disabled list.
As the Phillies get ready to start the second half, they have the knowledge that, like it or not, they are a rather good second half team. They also know that, with the Blanton trade, they now have an overabundance of starters, although not all of them are presently good (Adam Eaton and Brett Myers). The team hopes that either a returning Myers or the newcomer Blanton will become their number two starter, to help balance their ace Cole Hamels, while Jamie Moyer and a continuing to improve and impress Kyle Kendrick will become their no. 3 and 4 pitchers, respectively. And it is rather encouraging to learn that J.A. Happ, in his first start after being sent back to Lehigh Valley, has made a very strong statement to bring him back to the Majors, as he shut down the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees in seven innings of scoreless baseball. At this point, the odd men out appear to be Eaton and Myers, with Eaton being the most in danger of saying good bye to Phillies’ pinstripes at the moment. Myers would be next, especially as long as he continues to be a headcase if he doesn’t show any improvement after coming back from the Iron Pigs and Reading. But with all that said and done, the Phillies still need to find a new reliever, preferably a leftie, to help the bullpen pick up the slack while Tom Gordon is still out and to help take some of the pressure off him when he returns. Lastly, hopefully the All-Star break will have done most of the players some good, especially Jimmy Rollins, who the Phillies need to get on base to help jump start the offense. (Jay-Ro, a word of advice, please lay off the first few pitches that are thrown at you, unless you are very, very sure that you can hit it away from a fielder. That’s all I’m asking. Be more selective at the plate. Oh, and Ryan Howard, will you please stop swinging at pitches that you can’t reach. Please???? The sooner you do, the sooner the pitchers will stop throwing their junk at you.)
The Phillies will begin their second half now tied for first place with the Mets, who will be continuing a four games series with the Reds in Cincinnati. The third place Marlins are trailing both teams by a game and a half as they prepare to host the visiting Phillies. The fourth place Braves trails the two division leaders by six and a half game as they prepare to host the Nationals for three games. The Phillies hope to perform better against Eastern Division rivals that are not the Braves, while trying to get back sole control of first place against the presently streaking Mets and the pesky fish.