The Phillies are on what
the optimistic among us are forced to call a tear, have lost just once in
their last five games. It sounds even better if you say they've only lost
once since July 7. Sadly they remain way behind the New York Mets, who
score 11 runs in an inning more often than you would hope if you're a fan of
a team 12 games behind them in the standings.
The Phillies are an impressive 16-10 against the NL West, which would be even more fabulous news if the Mets weren't 13-7.
The Phillies come into the series at 42-48, winners of four of their last five. They are tied with the Braves for second place in the NL East, 12 games behind the Mets. The Padres have lost three straight, most recently being swept in a three game series by the streaking Braves. Over their last four games they have surrendered 45 runs, which is curious given that they have allowed the fewest runs in the NL on the season. San Diego leads the NL West by 2 1/2 games.
Offensively, the Phils come in at seventh in the NL in runs scored. Their .257 team batting average is tied for worst in the league. The Padres offense has been dreadful -- they are 15th in the National League in runs scored and only the Cubs have a worse on-base percentage.
San Diego pitchers, on the other hand, have thrown to the second best ERA in the league and the .249 opponents are hitting against them is tops in the NL. They have allowed the second fewest walks. Phillies pitchers have allowed 121 more hits in 19 2/3 fewer innings.
The teams met earlier this month with the Padres taking two of three in Philadelphia July 4-6. Aaron Rowand knocked in Ryan Howard in the bottom of the ninth in game one for a 6-5 win, but San Diego took the next two. They wasted a nice start by Mathieson in game two and lost 6-3 in the second game, Khalil Grenne hit a three run homer off of Gordon in the top of the ninth in that one and it proved to be non-trivial. The Phillies went up 3-0 in the final game of the series, but Ryan Madson got hit hard for five runs in five innings as the Padres took the series with a 5-3 win.
The Padres have just one regular, Mike Piazza (290/346/515), with an OPS of over .800. First baseman Adrian Gonzalez (275/315/478) leads the team in home runs with 16 and Khalil Greene (253/331/444) in RBI with 49.
Right fielder Brian Giles (278/392/389) is still an on-base machine, but is on a pace to slug under .459 for the first time in his career. Dave Roberts (284/357/412) and Mike Cameron (261/347/447) join Giles in the outfield.
Filling out the infield with Greene and Gonzalez are Josh Barfield (297/337/415) and Vinny Castilla (232/260/320). Castilla's numbers are outrageously bad.
Trevor Hoffman still closes for the Padres and is backup up in the pen by a ton of righties: Scott Linebrink, Brian Sweeney, Doug Brocail, Brian Sikorski, Cla Meredith and Jon Adkins. Token lefty Alan Embree is on the DL but eligible to return today -- when he does, Sikorski may be sent down. Hoffman has been great this year in non-All-Star game action, allowing just 28 hits in 35 2/3 innings and yielding just one home run. Lefites are hitting .161 against him. Linebrink, Sweeney and Adkins have all been good for San Diego. Brocail, Sikorski and Meredith have all thrown less than 15 innings. When the teams met most recently, the Phillies hit Meredith hard in game one and were shut down by Linebrink and Hoffman in the last two games of the series. The two relievers combined to throw four scoreless innings in the two games that were won by the Padres.
Cole Hamels (2-4, 5.44) faces righty Woody Williams (4-1, 3.08) tonight in the series opener. Williams missed all of June with a calf injury and has made two starts since returning for the DL. In those starts he allowed just three earned runs in 11 1/3 innings. In nine starts on the year he has yet to allow more than three runs in an outing. He continues to be a fly ball pitcher and lefties are hitting just .212 against him. Cole Hamels struck out seven Pirates in five innings in his last outing, which came on July 9. He held Pittsburgh to six hits and got his second career win. Righties are hitting .290 against him and he's walked way too many, 24 in his first 44 2/3 innings.
Ryan Madson (8-6, 5.91) faces righty Clay Hensley (5-7, 4.70) tomorrow night. Hensley's last appearance came in relief in a pre-All-Star outing on July 14 against the Braves. His last start came July 9 against the Nationals and he was hit hard, giving up seven runs on 11 hits in five innings. He started the first game of the last series between the Phils and Padres and pitched well but took the loss. In that game he went six, allowing three runs on seven hits without allowing a walk. Carlos Ruiz hit a two-run homer off of him. Madson has been awful this year. Two of his last three starts have been terrible -- 11 earned runs in 6 2/3 innings. Sandwiched in-between, however, was a much needed gem, 8 2/3 shutout innings against the Orioles on June 29. Opponents are hitting .313 against him and righties .348. I still think the Phillies should put him back into the pen and give Ryan Franklin a chance in the rotation, but I'm beginning to suspect the Philllies might not even care what I think.
Jon Lieber (3-7, 5.56) faces righty Chris Young (8-4, 3.59) on Wednesday afternoon. Young got hammered on Friday by the Braves, giving up seven runs in three innings on seven hits, including three home runs. He's an extreme fly ball pitcher and lefites are hitting just .185 against him. He has allowed a ton of home runs, 19, which is the third most in the league. Jon Lieber has had a miserable year and made just two starts since returning from the DL with a groin injury. He also pitched last on Friday and went 5 1/3 against the Giants, allowing five runs on six hits. He oddly had five walks in that game. For the season he's walked just 15 and nine of them came in two of his 13 starts.
Seekers of Padres' blog may want to check out the excellent Ducksnorts.