Last night was not the best night to be a Phillies phan. After a dominating performance by Lee the night before, it was evident from the start that there was something wrong with Oswalt. The Phillies didn’t just lose 12-2; they may have lost one of their four aces for a significant period of time. Roy Oswalt left last night’s game because of a back injury after giving up 4 runs in just two innings. He is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Monday and his 2nd DL trip this season looks inevitable. Oswalt has had his fare share of back injuries in the past and his post game comments didn’t calm any fears the Philly Phaithful had about his future with the team.
"You throw as long as you can throw, and if you can’t throw no more, you can’t throw no more.”Oswalt said about his back injury “I’m going to keep throwing as long as I can, and hopefully it’s not gotten to the point where I can’t throw no more. If it’s gotten to that point, then you’ve just got to accept it."
According to all of the critics, this team is old and can’t hit. If you would just listen to what people say from a day to day basis about this team, you would think they are having a terrible season. But the reality is that the Phillies still own the best record in all of baseball. There lead in the National League East is down to “just” 4 games but it is the biggest division lead in the majors. The Phillies are currently 47-29 and are 6 games ahead of where they were last year through 76 games. After going 3-3 on their 6 game road trip, they return home for a 6 game home stand which will feature the one of the worst and one of the best offenses in all of baseball.
Meet the Athletics
Throughout the first few months of the season, the A’s hung in there and stayed with the rest of the American League West. But they have struggled over the last month and are now falling out of the race. They are currently 34-42 and are 6 games behind the first place Rangers. If you thought the Phillies had trouble scoring runs, the Oakland Athletics bats make the Phillies look like an offensive juggernaut. The A’s offense rank 26th in baseball in runs, 27th in batting average, 28th in slugging percentage and last in homeruns. Their lineup does feature some good players like Coco Crisp, Josh Willingham and Hideki Matsui but it is missing a middle of the order hitters who will put fear into any pitching staff.
As we seem to be enter an era of pitching dominance, a lot of team’s are trying to stock pile great arms. Billy Bean has assembled a fine young rotation of nice arms as the A’s rank 3rd in baseball in ERA. Their rotation features former Phillie prospects Gio Gonzalez and Josh Outman, the very good but currently injured young pitcher Brett Anderson and solid young arms like Trevor Cahill and Tyson Ross. They also feature one of the best pens in the game with the likes of Grant Balfour, Brad Ziegler and Voorhees, New Jersey product Andrew Bailey.
Friday June 24, 7:05: RHP Vance Worley vs. RHP Guillermo Moscoso
Saturday seemed like a massive pitching matchup for the Phillies as they sent the young Vance Worley up against the reigning AL Cy Young winner. But the 23 year old righty was able to gut out a solid performance despite not having his best stuff. He gave up just one run and 5 hits in his 5 innings of work and kept the Phillies tied until the bats game alive in the 7th. Worley is now 2-1 with a 3.41 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP in 7 games (5 starts) this season. The young pitcher has pitched a lot better when he is in front of the hometown phans as his ERA is just 2.12 while pitching a home this season. This will be the first time Worley has ever faced the A’s or anyone who is currently on their roster.
Worley will be opposed by the 27 year old righty Guillermo Moscoso who was inserted into the A’s rotation a few weeks ago. He came up in the Tigers minor league system before joining the Rangers before the 2009 season. Prior to this season, he had pitched in just 11 major league games in parts of two seasons with the Texas Rangers. So far this season he has pitched in 7 games (5 starts) and has done a pretty good job. He is currently 2-3 with a 3.30 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP. Moscoso throws a fastball in the low 90’s, a curveball and a changeup. Tonight’s game will be the first time he will face the Phillies but 3rd baseman Placido Polanco has faced him and is hitless in 2 at bats against him.
Saturday June 25, 7:05: LHP Cole Hamels vs. RHP Trevor Cahill
Hamels had another stellar performance on Sunday afternoon but was handed the loss because of the lack of run support. Prior to Sundays game, the Phillies bats had given Hamels run support after failing to do so for much of the 2010 season. Despite the loss, Hamels is still having an amazing season and will likely be in Arizona next month for the all star game. Through his first 15 starts he is now 9-3 with a 2.51 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP. Hamels is now 5-2 with a 2.80 ERA in 8 starts at home this season. Tomorrow night game will be the first time he will face the Athletics. Conor Jackson, Hideki Matsui and Adam Rosales are the only A’s who have faced Hamels during their careers; they are a combined 2-11 (.182) while facing him.
The A’s will Trevor Cahill to the hill to oppose Hamels tomorrow night. He was terrific against the light hitting Giants in his last start. Cahill earned the win as he went 8 innings and only gave up 1 run on 5 hits. Prior to his last start, Cahill had gone 5 straight starts without getting a win and gave up at least 4 runs in each game. Before this recent rough stretch his ERA was a miniscule 1.79. The 23 year old righty is now 7-5 with a 3.24 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP through 16 starts this season. He has pitched a lot better at home this season compared to the road, his ERA on at home is 2.39 while his road ERA is 4.18. Cahill has never faced the Phillies but he has pitched against Francisco and Polanco. They are a combined 2-5 (.400) while facing him.
Sunday June 26th, 1:35: RHP Roy Halladay vs. LHP Josh Outman
The bats came alive for Halladay on Tuesday night, but it was after he left the game and this resulted in him receiving a no decision. Doc gave up just 4 hits and one run before he was lifted for a pinch hitter in the 7th after pitching a season low 6 innings. It was his 2nd straight start that he left the game while his team was trailing and the team once again rallied to win the game. The Phillies have one his last 7 starts and are 13-3 in his 16 starts this season. Halladay is now 9-3 with a 2.51 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP this season. In 9 starts at the bank this season, he is 5-1 with a 2.64 ERA. He has pitched most of his career in the American League and has made 13 previous starts ageist the Athletics. In those games he is 6-4 with a 4.54 ERA. Current A’s hitters are a combined 26-103 (.252) while facing Halladay during their careers.
Doc will be opposed by former Phillies prospect, lefthander Josh Outman. Before the trade deadline during the 2008 season, the Phillies sent Outman, 2nd baseman Adrian Cardenas and OF Matthew Spencer in exchange for Joe Blanton. Cardenas was the most highly rated prospect in the trade and hasn’t developed like the A’s thought he would, he has yet to reach the majors and was just recently moved from 2nd to the outfield. Prior to the 2008 season, he was ranked as the Phillies 2nd best prospect by Baseball America. That season Outman climbed to 4th on the Phillies prospect list and profiled him as a number 3 starter long term. Despite being drafted by the Phillies in the 10th round of the 2005 draft, he never pitched in a game with them. After being traded to the A’s in 2008, he pitched in 6 games (4 starts) with them during the remainder of the season and posted a 4.56 ERA.
In his 6 starts this season, he is 3-1 with a 2.86 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP. Like Cahill, Outman hasn’t fared very well on the road this season. He has a 3.74 ERA on the road compared to his 1.38 ERA at home this season. Outman has never faced the Phillies but has faced Ibanez and Polanco. They are a combined 0-4 while facing him during their careers.
The Phillies start a 3 game series tonight against the team that used to share the city with them. The Athletics were in Philadelphia from 1901 to 1954 before leaving for Kansas City in 1955. Then after 13 seasons in Kansas City, they moved to their current home in Oakland. During their time in Philadelphia they were the more successful team as the won 5 World Series titles and 9 AL Pennants while in the city of Brotherly Love. It will be interesting to see the two teams battle it out on the field this weekend. The Phillies have been one of the best home teams in baseball this season and should receive a boast as they return home this weekend. Their pitching staff should be able to limit the A’s bats but will the Phillies be able to score against the talented A’s staff. I think the Phillies will score enough runs against the A’s and sweep their former city mates out of town.