The Phillies play the
first of three tonight in San Francisco. They come into the series in
second place in the NL East at 40-47, 12 games behind the New York Mets.
The Giants are in third place in the NL West, trailing the division leading Padres by 3 1/2 games.
The Phillies come in with a .256 team batting average, which ties them with the Astros for the worst mark in the NL. They are seventh in the league in scoring, having scored one more run (in two fewer games) than the Giants. The Giants pitching has been far better. The Phillies have allowed the fifth most runs in the league, while only two teams have allowed fewer than the Giants.
The teams last met in a three-game series in Philadelphia May 5-7. The Phillies got a sweep behind surprisingly good starting pitching, outscoring the Giants 21-9 in a series that was overshadowed by Bonds' chase of Babe Ruth. In the series Madson, Floyd and Lieber combined to throw 19 innings and allow just eight earned runs (3.79 ERA).
Despite his struggles this season Barry Bonds continues to be the best hitter for the Giants at 249/474/497. He's hit as many home runs so far this season as Ray Durham (260/336/480). The both have 12. Moises Alou has had back problems for much of the year but came off the DL in the first week of July. He's at 307/363/564 in 140 at-bats this year. Randy Winn (270/343/427) joins Bonds and Alou in the outfield with much needed support from Steve Finley (248/317/408). Third baseman Pedro Feliz has hit 15 home runs while on-basing just .306. Shortstop Omar Vizquel (302/380/396) is having his best offensive year since 1999. Lance Niekro (249/289/379) and Mark Sweeney (264/338/448) share time at first. Mike Matheny is on the DL, leaving much of the catching work to Todd Greene, who has posted an unusual (323/364/452) line in 93 at-bats.
In the pen, closer Armando Benitez is backed up by fellow righties Jeremey Accardo, Brian Wilson, Kevin Correia and Brad Hennessey. Steve Kline and Jonathan Sanchez have been the lefties. Benitez has an ERA under two despite allowing just over a hit an inning. Hennessey and Correia have both been good -- righties are hitting just .165 against Correia and lefties .385. Hennessey has allowed just 44 hits in 59 2/3 innings, righties are hitting .226 against him and lefites .171. Accardo and Brian Wilson both have ERA's over five, but Wilson has thrown just ten innings. 23-year-old Jonathan Sanchez is a prospect to watch -- he's allowed just five hits in 13 2/3 innings. Steve Kline has pitched to a 2.76 ERA but allowed 29 hits and 17 walks in 29 1/3 innings.
Jon Lieber (3-6, 5.47) faces righty Matt Morris (7-7, 4.29) tonight. The same two pitchers faced off on May 7 and the Phillies hit Morris hard for seven runs in five innings. They got eight hits off of him, including home runs from Burrell and Rowand. It was a different time, however, the Phillies win in the game was their eighth straight. Lieber went seven innings that day, allowing four runs on six hits, including home runs to Sweeney and Bonds. Morris last started on July 7 against the Dodgers, allowing five runs on ten hits in six innings. Coming into that game he had allowed just three earned runs over 21 1/3 innings in his three previous starts. Lieber has made just one start since returning from the DL. He also pitched on July 7, going seven innings against the Pirates and allowing just two runs on five hits.
Cory Lidle (5-7, 4.95) faces lefty Noah Lowry (4-5, 4.08) tomorrow afternoon. Lowry last pitched on Sunday and went 5 1/3 against the Dodgers, giving up four runs on nine hits. He's given up a lot of hit this year, more than one an inning in his short career. Lefties are hitting .367 against him and righties .273. Lidle also last pitched on Sunday and got the win against the Pirates. He threw six innings and held Pittsburgh to two runs on six hits and a walk. Lefties are hitting .331 against him. He has gone at least six innings in 14 of his 18 starts this year, which has helped the Phillies and their overworked pen.
Brett Myers (5-3, 3.86) is back on Sunday and faces righty Jason Schmidt (6-5, 2.78) on Sunday. Schmidt's 2.78 ERA is second best in the NL and he's eighth in the league in strikeouts. He's allowed more than three earned runs in a game once in his last 14 starts. He last pitched on Sunday against the Dodgers and went six innings, allowing three runs on seven hits. He's allowed just 98 hits in 126 1/3 innings. Myers last pitched in Boston on June 24 and gave up three runs on seven hits and four walks over five innings. Opponents are hitting .272 against him after hitting just .237 last season. Last year was the only year of his career in which opponents hit less than .270 against Myers.