Thursday, June 4, 2009

Phils sweep Padres, head to L.A. for showdown with Dodgers

The Phillies won their sixth straight game last night, 5-1, capping off a sweep of the San Diego Padres. While the offense has been punishing the ball, the pitching staff has been excellent throughout this stretch.

The two young left-handers in the rotation are pitching phenomenally. Antonio Bastardo's Major League debut on Tuesday could not have gone better. Staked to a 4-0 lead before taking the mound, Bastardo used the lead to his advantage by attacking hitters with his live fastball. In his six innings pitching, his only allowed run came on a solo shot from Adrian Gonzalez. He struck out five and walked just one. Bastardo was great, and didn't pitch like a rookie at all. He started the first batter he faced three balls and no strikes. A less composed kid making his debut would likely have become frustrated, but Bastardo threw three consecutive strikes to pick up his first big league strikeout.

Raul Ibanez carried the offense in Tuesday's victory. On his 37th birthday, Ibanez hit an RBI double off Jake Peavy in the first, and then two, two-run home runs, one in the third and one in the seventh. The Phils were cruising with a 10-1 lead until Chan Ho Park entered the game and promptly allowed four runs in just one inning.

Park has no business even being on this team. He was terrible in the rotation and hasn't fared much better out of the bullpen. The scoreboard at Citizen's Bank Park should display his last name backward any time he enters a game: "oh krap." Might as well say it, we're all thinking it.

J.A. Happ was dominant, once again, last night. Ryan Howard's two-run blast in the first inning was all he needed. Happ pitched seven scoreless, allowing just four hits while walking two and striking out four. His era is down to 2.48 and he improved to 4-0.

The Phillies' hot streak has moved them to three games ahead of New York, five and a half past Atlanta and seven and a half in front of Florida. The Phils' .608 winning percentage is second best in the National League, behind only the L.A. Dodgers, whom the Phillies open a four-game set with tonight.

The first two games will be match-ups of lefties, as Cole Hamels faces off against Clayton Kershaw in game one, and Jamie Moyer opposes former Phillie Eric Milton on Friday. Joe Blanton will take on right handed Hiroki Kuroda on Saturday, and Antonio Bastardo's second Major League start closes out the series, against another former Phillie, Randy Wolf.

One would think the Phillies throwing three left handed pitchers at a team would be unmatchable, but the Dodgers are countering with three lefties on the same nights. The Dodgers took two of three from the Phils in Philadelphia last month, but the Phillies are on a hot streak and out for revenge this weekend. Should be a great series, and if the Phillies could manage to take three of four, they'd be in excellent shape.

1 comment:

  1. Even without Manny Ramirez, the Dodgers have held the top spot in the power rankings for practically the entire season. They have to keep going coz; they’ve always been my favourite teams in MLB. Just read about them here: