Over the last few weeks, it seems that every team the Phillies play. There is some kind of story about a players return home. First it was Howard returning to his hometown of St. Louis, then it was Raul Ibanez returning to the town he spent parts of ten seasons in and now Roy Halladay will return to the city that loves him as much as we do. This weekend the Phillies will play their final interleague series of the year against the Toronto Blue Jays. The main moment these two franchises share is the forgettable thing that happened in 1993. We still love you Mitchie Poo! Hopefully the Phillies are able to inflict some revenge on our actual neighbors to the North.
The Phillies were not able to sweep the Red Sox today, but they still managed to win the series and that’s really all you can ask against a good team like Boston. Cole Hamels was forced to leave the game after a line drive hit him in his non-pitching hand. He was taken out of the game after getting one more out and ended up only being able to pitch for 4 innings. The team announced during the game that the x-rays were negative on his hand and that he should be able to make his next start. But after the game on WIP Amaro still had some doubt on whether he would start versus the Marlins next week. Even with the loss, the Phillies are still 51-31 and are on pace to win 102 games! They hold a 4 game lead in the National League East and they still have the best record in baseball.
Meet the Blue Jays
The Blue Jays have the tough task of playing in the same division as the Yankees and the Red Sox. The AL East is home to the 3 best records in the American League. Toronto is currently in 4th place in the division with a 40-42 record and are 9.5 games behind the Yankees. They are currently 9th in the majors in runs scored and are 3rd in home runs. Their main offensive force is their slugging RF/3B Jose Baustista but they do have other hitters who can hurt you. First baseman Adam Lind will enter the series with 16 homeruns and 49 RBI’s and rookie Catcher J.P Arencibia is tied for 3rd in homeruns amoung MLB catchers with 11. The Jays pitching staff has been the weakness of the team and might be the reason they are just below .500 at this point. They are 24th in the majors in ERA and have given up the 8th most home runs in the game.
Friday July 1, 1:07: RHP Kyle Kendrick vs. LHP Ricky Romero
The injury of Roy Oswalt has forced Kyle Kendrick back into the rotation. He had done a good job in his last two starts before the team inserted Worley back into the rotation. Kendrick had given up just 1 run and 2 hits in his previous two starts. Though he only pitched 3 innings in one of the starts due to a rain delay, but he was still very effective prior to the delay. He is now 4-4 with a 3.23 ERA and 1.27 WHIP on the season. He has only pitched in 1 game since his start on the 15th and hasn’t pitched in a game since the 23rd. So Kendrick should be well rested for his start tomorrow afternoon. Krazy K has pitched in one game against the Blue Jays during his career; he didn’t allow a hit or a run in his only inning of work out of the bullpen. Current Blue Jays hitters are a combined 3-26 (.115) while facing Kendrick during their careers.
The Blue Jays will send their best starter to the hill on Canada Day tomorrow afternoon. Ricky Romero leads Toronto starters in ERA, strikeouts and wins. He is coming off his best start of the season on Sunday against the Cards as he pitched a complete game 4 hitter. He is now 7-7 with a 2.74 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in his 16 starts this season. The 26 year old lefty has dominated the Phillies in the two prior games he has faced them. In those games he is 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA. Current Phillies hitters are a combined 7-32 (.219) while facing Romero during their careers.
Saturday July 2, 1:07: RHP Roy Halladay vs. RHP Carlos Villanueva
Roy Halladay might be one of the most popular players in Blue Jays history. The entire fan bashed cried for weeks when they traded their franchise pitcher to the Phillies. All I can say is thank you Toronto! Halladay was dominate in his last start as he only allowed 1 run in his complete game against the A’s. Doc is now 10-3 with a 2.40 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP in 17 starts this season. His only start against his former team came last year in an “away” game a Citizens Bank Park. He went 7 innings and didn’t give up a run on 6 hits. Current Blue Jays hitters are a combined 9-52 (.173) while facing Halladay during their careers.
Carlos Villanueva will get the tough task of trying to pitch against Halladay. The 27 year old righty has done a great job since he was inserted into the rotation after starting the season in the bullpen. Over his last 3 starts, he has given up 3 or fewer runs and gone at least 6 innings in every game. He is currently is 5-1 with a 3.15 ERA in 20 games (7 starts) this season. The former Brewer has pitched in 11 games against the Phillies in his career and has yet to make a start. In those games he is 0-0 with a 1.26 ERA. Current Phillies hitters are a combined 6-38 (.158) while facing Villanueva during their careers.
Sunday July 3, 1:07: LHP Cliff Lee vs. RHP Jo-Jo Reyes
Unless you hang out with those guys in the Geico commercial, you probably heard what Cliff Lee has done over his last few starts. Just in case you didn’t know, he has pitched 3 consecutive shutouts and hasn’t given up a run in his last 32.1 innings! Lee went 5-0 with a miniscule 0.26 ERA during the month of June. Clifton is now 9-5 with a 2.66 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP in 17 starts this season. He has made 9 starts against the Blue Jays during his career, in those games he is 2-4 with 3.81 ERA. In 5 starts at the Rogers Centre he is 2-3 with an identical 3.81 ERA. Current Blue Jays hitters are a combined 28-90 (.311) while facing Lee during their careers.
Reyes was able to break his long winless streak earlier this season and has won 2 other games this as well. The former Brave has a just 8 wins in his 53 careers starts (57 games) and has a 5.89 ERA in those games. He is coming off of one of his worst starts of the season; he gave up 9 hits and 6 runs in just 3.2 innings against the Pirates on Tuesday. Reyes is now 3-7 with a 4.77 ERA and a 1.51 WHIP 16 starts this season. Reyes has pitched in 6 games (4 starts) during his career, in those games he is 0-3 with a 6.99 ERA. Current Phillies hitters are a combined 15-69 (.217) while facing Reyes during their careers.
Tomorrow is one of the biggest and most important days of the year for most Canadians. It will then be followed by day that may be even bigger in Toronto as Saturday is a "Halladay" as well. This is a big series for the Phillies as they haven’t played great baseball on the road this season. They enter the series just 19-17 on the road and they will start a 6 game road trip tomorrow afternoon. The first game of the series looks to be a tough one of the Phillies as they will send your least reliable pitcher against the Blue Jays best. The following two days should be filled with solid pitcher performances from the Phillies Aces and plenty of runs scored off of average Toronto starters. I predict the Phillies will take two of three from the Blue Jays.