This is a test. The Phillies disposed of the Braves and made them look like a team that should be 10.5 games out in the division, but this is a new test. The Phillies now get a chance to make their mark against the closest competition currently in the NL.
It’s the beginning of what should be a highly entertaining and competitive series between the leaders of the NL East and the NL Central. Who better to help kick it off than Cole Hamels. In eight career starts against the Brewers, Hamels is 4-2 with a 3.66 ERA. Behind him will be a makeshift offense, as Chase Utley is still in Philly, and Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez get the night off against the lefty Chris Narveson.
Narveson is 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA against the Phils in his brief major league career, but with a playoff-like atmosphere expected at Miller Park, how will he handle it this time around? We know Hamels can hold his own, he has thrived in games like this. But Narveson is an unknown. He’s had a decent season with Milwaukee, but its games like this that make the man.
If Milwaukee wants a shot at home field throughout – they currently sit 8.5 games behind the Phillies – a sweep is almost a necessity. If they can take advantage of the lineup the Phils are trotting out there, it could make for an interesting series. The Brew Crew has the best record at home in all of baseball (50-19), while the Phils sport the best away record in MLB (42-26).
A bit of good news, Jimmy Rollins is back. He will not be in the starting lineup, but should be available for pinch hit duties. It’s obvious the Phillies want to take it slow and use precaution when dealing with their shortstop and spark plug.
Lineup: Victorino CF, Valdez SS, Polanco 3B, Pence RF, Mayberry 1B, Ruiz C, Francisco LF, Martinez SS, Hamels SP
Your Gameday Beer: Miller High Life
I know, I know, Miller High Life is far from the fancy brews that generally grace the gameday beer slot. However, being in Milwaukee, it’s a given that this end up here. If you’re short on change and want a good fix/buzz, you could do worse than MHF. If anything, it’ll harken you back to the days of frat parties and drunken beach trips. -By Pat