Philadelphia Phillies (19-12) at Colorado Rockies (15-16)
Kyle Kendrick, RHP (1-1, 5.87 ERA) vs. Greg Smith, LHP (1-2, 6.35 ERA)
Time: 8:40 p.m at Coors Field
Weather: Mostly Cloudy, 53
TV: Comcast SportsNet
What a difference a homestand makes. After April closed with plenty of questions about the Phillies’ starting rotation and bullpen, May has provided some welcome answers. Since losing the first game of a 10-game stay at Citizens Bank Park on April 30, the Phillies have won seven of their past nine games, a charge led by steady arms in the bullpen and consistent performances from the entire rotation.
Perhaps the best result from the homestand was that every pitcher had at least some success – including today’s starter, Kyle Kendrick, who shut out the potent Cardinals for seven innings on Wednesday after a shaky five innings in a loss to the Mets that started the 10-game stretch. With J.A. Happ still a ways off from returning, Joe Blanton needing a few starts to get up to speed after coming off the disabled list and Cole Hamels a toss-up from one start to the next, Kendrick’s importance to the rotation cannot be underestimated.
As for the lineup, what happened to Ryan Howard’s power? After homering in the first two games of the season, the Big Piece or Big N’ Tasty or whatever they’re calling him these days has only three blasts in the 29 games since. No matter how you look at it, Howard’s power is lagging, as is his run production overall, with only three RBIs this month. If there’s one thing that could help it’s a trip into the thin air of Coors Field – though Howard (and the lineup as a whole) historically hits better in hotter weather, and the game-time temperature for today’s and tomorrow’s games will be in the 50s, with Wednesday’s in the 40s and snow in the forecast. Certainly not what Charlie Manuel calls “hittin’ weather.”
Tonight’s Lineup: Victorino (CF), Polanco (3B), Utley (2B), Howard (1B), Werth (RF), Ibanez (LF), Ruiz (C), Valdez (SS), Kendrick (P)
Your Gameday Beer – Coors Original
In the spirit of this chilly, mile-high series, sip on a can of original Coors as you witness the Phillies hit the road. The “Banquet Beer,” as it’s known, is 5 percent ABV and is the oldest of the Coors beers. Buy a six-pack, eat some steak and potatoes with it, and be sure to dispose of the cans by stepping on them, just as the Phils will do to the Rockies tonight. – By Pat