Well, that was a less than spectacular week in Phillies baseball. This week the Phillies will look to turn the tides on their misfortune as they return to the east coast to play the two worst teams in the N.L. East.
The Phillies, coming off of a week that saw them go 2-5, will head to Washington, for a three game set against the last-place Nationals. The Phillies will look to get their offense back in line after managing just 13 runs in their last seven games. They were shutout twice during that stretch and also beat the Giants by a 1-0 score, on a Cole Hamels complete game shutout.
In their last ten, the Phils are just 4-6, not the way you want to start the last month heading into the postseason. They remain in first in the East with a dwindling six game lead over the Marlins. The Braves are still eight games back. The Nationals meanwhile, have already been eliminated from playoff contention and are all playing for their 2010 employment in the Major League.
In their last ten, the Nationals are just 2-8, and a dismal 47-90 overall. Although they are this seasons version of baseballs laughing stock, do not take a team playing for pride lightly. The Nationals despite their pitching woes can still hit the ball hard and this past weekend was proof as they scored 16 runs in a three-game shootout with the Marlins.
The Nationals will send John Lannan, Garrett Mock, and Livan Hernandez to the rubber to face the Phillies. The Phils will counter with Pedro Martinez, Cliff Lee, and Joe Blanton.
The Phillies have had trouble with Lannan in his career, and Lannan has been responsible for injuring two Phillies in his career, Chase Utley(broken hand), and Cole Hamels(sprained ankle). Lannan has been decent this year, toting a 4.09 ERA into the final month.
Garrett Mock was recently rocked by the Marlins, giving up six runs over three innings in a loss to Florida. Long balls are what hurt Mock the most, which should play into the Phillies hands. Hernandez also gave up six runs in his last start, giving up four in the first.
Pedro Martinez’s last outing was by far his best since returning to baseball as he out-dueled Cy Young Award candidate Tim Lincecum. Martinez has shown flashes of brilliance in his short time with the Phillies, but it is way too early to tell if this kind of success can be duplicated, let alone sustained.
Cliff Lee has gone the opposite direction of Martinez, giving up six runs in each of his last two starts. Lee lasted only three innings in his last start and looks to regain his winning form heading into baseballs home stretch.
Blanton, despite giving up three runs in his last outing still kept the Phillies in the game. The Phillies eventually took the lead in that game against the Astros just to have it blown in the ninth by closer Brad Lidge. Blanton remains the team’s most steady starter this season and looks to maintain his solid work.
After three games with the Nats, the Phillies finally return home to face the much maligned New York Mets. It’s no secret that the Mets have had a rough season, losing key players such as Carlos Delgado, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, Johan Santana, and David Wright for significant amounts of time. Although Wright has returned to the line-up, the rest are still out.
If you want to feel sorry for the Mets, don’t. There is nothing more that New York would love to do than come to Philadelphia and help to spoil our shot at the post season. If there is anything left for them to play for, this is it. Make no mistake, these four games against the Mets ARE their playoffs and believe that whatever “A” game is left in that clubhouse will be brought to Philly.
The Mets enter the series 62-75 and are seemingly out of playoff contention at 16 games back. They are an even 5-5 in their last ten, and recently took two of three from a quickly sinking Chicago Cubs. Just like in the Nationals series, pride is in play here so the the Phillies would be mistaken if they take this four game series lightly.
The Phillies should finish this week with a 5-2 record. Period. Anything less than that and fans have a legitimate reason to be concerned. Despite the pride factor, these are two terrible teams and the Phillies need to beat up on them for a few reasons. They need to get back on track, first. Second, they need to put more space between them and the division ankle-biters known as the Marlins. Lastly, the Phillies took a small hit to their own pride last week and they need to regain some pride of their own.
A good week could lead to a wonderful September. A bad week could spell the begin of a miserable one.