The series took a bad turn in the 12th inning of Monday Nights Game. After the Phillies were able to tie the game in the bottom of the 9th off of a Pete Orr single, Kyle Kendrick imploded on the mound. At first he couldn't throw strikes, then he threw a sacrifice bunt attempt into right field, then he decided he wanted to throw what looked like batting practice to the Brewers hitters. Kendrick’s performance looked like he had been spending most of the night eating dollar dogs in the bullpen. The following night didn't go much better for the Phillies pitchers.
The machine we all call Doc, had some type of malfunction that made his pitches hittable. When the bullpen took the ball in the 7th, they didn’t fair much better. The always popular David Herndon and Prince Fielder body double Mike Zagurski were both greeted with hard hit balls. By the time the game was over, the Phillies were handed a 9-0 loss at home with there Ace on the mound. The ice cold bats could only 2 hits against Wolf and 3 Milwaukee relievers. The bats started today's game on this trend as they didn’t get their first hit until Mayberry lined a double down the left field line in the 5th. After breaking up the no-no the Phillies used patience, some luck and a little power to tie the game up in the 6th. They would take the lead on a massive bomb into the bullpen by Victorino. Jose “the Dump truck” Contreras came into the 9th and collected his 4th save of the season. It was a win that the team desperately needed after losing the first two games to the Brewers and should help the team’s confidence as the make the trek out west for 7 games.
“That was huge,” Charlie Manuel said. “Games like this keep you from going in a tailspin”
The Phillies start a 4 game series in San Diego tomorrow night and then will head to Arizona for three more before returning home. Last season he Padres fell struggled down the stretch and fell just short of the playoff birth but they are not the same team they were last season. They sent their slugger and best hitter Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox in the offseason and are off to a slow start. Like the Brewers in the previous series, the Padres will be coming off a double header the day before the series starts. The Padres dropped the first game today but where able to manage a series split by winning the 2nd game of the series. They are now 8-10 on the season and are in last place in the NL West.
Phillies Ryan Howard
Ryan Howard is the type of player who can single handily carry a team for a matter of weeks if not months. That is exactly the type of production this team needs right now. Howard has now gone 7 straight games without a homerun and has not just homered once in his last 12 games. His recent struggles have sent his average to just .286 despite his amazing start to the season. Howard has not had success against tomorrows starting pitcher Matt Latos as he is 0-5 lifetime but he has had success versus the Padres and at Petco Park. In 36 games versus the Padres, he is batting .360 with 9 homeruns and 45 RBI’s. In his 60 career at bats at Petco Park, he has 5 homeruns and 19 RBI’s while batting .319. The big man is just 2 for 21 so far this season on the road. If he is able to get hot during the trip, he will provide the Philly Phaithful with a big sense of relief and he would be a HUGE boast to the offense.
Padres Nick Hundley
The Padres lineup looks a lot different and a lot less formidable without Adrian Gonzalez, they are simply without a great middle of the order power threat. Catcher Nick Hundley has been the team’s best hitter so far this season. He is batting .340 with 3 homeruns and 9 RBI’s. In addition to his bat, the Padres will need him to do a good job behind the plate as well. During the 1st 3 games of the series, the Padres will send a 23 year old, 27 year old and 28 year to the hill.
Thursday April 21 10:05 Roy Oswalt vs. Matt Latos
Oswalt sent the Phillie phans into a frenzy when he left his start on Friday night with an apparent back injury. But he will make the start tomorrow night and it appears that tragedy has been avoided. So far this season Oswalt is 2-0 with a rotation best 2.50 ERA. Country Roy has had a lot of success against the Padres and at the massive Petco Park. He has made 16 career starts against San Diego and he is 10-2 with a 2.45 ERA in those starts. Not surprisingly, his numbers are even better at Petco. In 7 starts he is 3-1 with a 1.90 ERA. Roy received a no decision in his last start in San Diego last August. He pitched a brilliant 8 innings only allowing 1 run on 5 hits. The opposing pitcher also pitched brilliantly in that game and it will be the same pitcher he will face tomorrow night.
In that game Latos seemed to match Oswalt pitch for pitch. He went 7 strong innings only giving up 1 run on 5 hits. After Lidge blew the game in the 9th for the Phils, today’s hero Polanco singled in Rollins for the eventual game winning run. The Padres hard throwing right hander was forced to start the season on the disabled list and will be making only his third start of the season tomorrow. So far this season he is 0-2 with a 5.84 ERA. Latos has made 2 starts versus the Phillies during his young career. In addition to his strong performance against the Phillies in August, he faced them at the Bank in early June. Latos only lasted 5 innings giving up 3 runs on just 4 hits while receiving the loss. In those 2 starts he is a combined 0-1 with a 3.00 ERA versus the Phightin’s.
Friday April 22 10:05 Cole Hamels vs. Clayton Richard
Cole has rebounded quit well after a rough first start versus the hated Mets. It was one of the few times the Mets actually hit the ball this season and ended up with one of their Major League worse 5 wins. He is now 1-1 and has lowered his ERA from 20.25 to 4.32 over the last two starts. Hollywood will be returning to his hometown and pitching against his childhood team. He has said that Padre great Trevor Hoffman was the inspiration for his changeup and he will get a chance to show Hoffman’s former team what he learned. Friday’s start will be his 10th career start against the Padres and his 5th start at Petco Park. He has done very well against his hometown team as he is 4-2 with a 2.75 ERA in his 9 career starts. Hamels is even better when pitching in the city he grew up in, in 4 starts at Petco, he is 2-1 with a 1.57 ERA.
The 6-5 lefty will be trying to rebound after a poor outing in his previous start. He went 5.1 innings giving up 6 runs, while raising his ERA from 2.45 to 4.50. He has a fastball that sits in the low 90’s, a cutter, a slider, a changeup and will throw the occasional curveball. Richard has faced the Phillies once before and received the loss in that game. The start was last August in San Diego when he went 7.2 innings giving up 4 runs (2 ER). Mike Sweeny hit a 2 homerun down the left field line to give the Phillies a 3-0 lead in the 7th. The “Sweeny Hugs” where everywhere in the dugout and it sparked the Phillies to a 5-0 win.
Saturday April 23 8:35: Joe Blanton vs. Tim Stauffer
Blanton’s solid outing wasn’t enough to give the Phillies a victory on Monday night, but it was enough to silence the critics for at least one start. Blanton pitched seven strong innings while only giving up 2 runs on 7 hits. Pete Orr’s single in the 9th took Blanton off the hook and gave him a no decision. Now he gets to pitch in a park against a team you would think he has performed very well against, surprisingly that is not the case. In 4 starts vs. the Padres, he is 2-1 with a 5.32 ERA. His numbers at Petco are better but not great. In his 3 starts at Petco he is 2-1 with a 4.24 ERA. Regardless of his past numbers, a massive ball park like Petco should help Blanton. The enormity of it makes a homerun very rare and this should work to the aid of Blanton.
Stauffer is coming off his best start of the season. Monday night he pitched 7 scoreless innings only giving up 4 hits. He is now 0-1 with a 3.50 ERA but he has to do a better job of going deeper into games. The righty hasn’t gotten through the 5th inning in 2 of his 4 starts. He has started 2 games versus the Phillies is his career but they were back in 2005 and 2007. In those starts he is 0-1 with a 16.39 ERA! The game in 2007 was played at the Bank and he gave up 11 runs in just 4.1 innings. But that was a much different lineup than the one he will face on Saturday night. Rollins and Howard are the only current Phillies who started that game. So his past performance should have very little to do with the game he pitches on Saturday.
Sunday April 24 4:05: Roy Halladay vs. TBD
Roy Halladay is coming off one of his worst performances as a Phillie and will no doubt be fired up to pitch on Sunday. He has a bulldog like mentality and it isn’t always wise to make him mad. The Padres might have to pay for what the Brewers did to Doc on Tuesday. Halladay is now 2-1 on the season with a 2.83 ERA. He pitched well in his only start against the Padres last June in Philadelphia. Doc earned the win giving up just 2 runs in 7 innings. Last year when Doc gave up 5 runs in April start against the Giants, he followed that up with a complete game shutout against the Mets. I would expect a similar performance by the reining NL Cy Young winner on Sunday.
The Padres haven’t announced who will pitch for them on Sunday. They were rained out on Tuesday and had to play a double header today. Dustin Mosely and veteran Aaron Harang pitched today for San Diego and both would have to pitch on short rest if they go on Sunday. They could always call someone up to the minors to make a spot start. Just a guess, but I think that they will give the ball to the more experienced pitcher in Harang.
So far this season it looks like the Phillies have become a team who will have to win with timely hitting, great pitching and solid defense. They don’t have the power bats in the lineup that we have all grown used to. Petco Park would then seemingly play into their hands as its monstrosity makes it difficult to hit home runs. They will need to start swinging the bats if they want to score many runs in this series. The Padres don’t have stellar pitching outside of Latos but they do have arms that can shut you down. They still have a great bullpen and one of the best closers in the game. This will make any late game heroics very difficult. A four game sweep is very difficult to do and is hard to imagine with the way the bats have been quiet lately. I predict the Phillies will take 3 of the 4 lower scoring hard fought games.