Monday, May 9, 2011

Hamels takes tough luck loss as Phils drop series, Fish next in battle for 1st

First place is up for grabs as the Phillies open a series in Florida against the second place Marlins. The Fish are two games behind the Phils for the top spot in the NL East, a day after Florida beat Washington 8-0 to salvage a game in their weekend set, and the Phils dropped last night's game to Atlanta 5-2.

The Phillies had plenty of chance, bringing the tying run to the plate in the eight and ninth innings but failing to come up with a clutch hit. Cole Hamels pitched well in defeat, allowing three runs over seven innings on five hits, one walk and a season high nine strikeouts. He surrendered two long balls which became his undoing.

It's the second time this series a Phillies' starter struck out a season high and took the loss. Cliff Lee fanned 16 Braves in a 5-0 defeat on Friday, which set the mark for most strikeouts in MLB thus far in 2011.

The Phillies are 1-1 against the Marlins this year, splitting a home series which was shorted by a rain-out. Here's a look at the match-ups:

Tonight: Joe Blanton (0-1 5.92) vs. Javier Vazquez (2-2 6.39)

Two struggling starters take the hill tonight, with Blanton making his first start back from the disabled list. He pitched seven solid innings in his last outing in San Diego on April 23, allowing two runs on eight hits. He's lowered his ERA each time he's taken the hill this year, except for his first start of course.

Vazquez blew a four run lead against St. Louis his last time out, allowing six runs (four earned) in 5.2 innings. He got a no decision against the Phillies on April 15, allowing three earned runs over five innings, walking four and striking out just one.

Tuesday: Roy Halladay (5-1 2.19) vs. Josh Johnson (3-1 1.68)

Two of the best pitchers in baseball take the hill in this marquee match-up. Halladay pitched very well against Florida last season, and he returns to the mound in which he threw a perfect game at the Fish last May. Doc allowed two runs or less in each of his last three starts, picking up a win in each outing. He's allowed two runs or less in all of his starts except for his one poor outing against Milwaukee on April 19.

Johnson leads the league in ERA and in the NL pitcher of the month for April. He's coming off his worst start of the year, in which he allowed five runs over 7.1 innings against the Cardinals, for his only loss of the season. He exited the game in a 3-3 tie, but Lance Berkman hit a first pitch, three-run home run and JJ's was responsible for the two men his left on base. Before that, he'd allowed two runs or less in all of his starts, and aside from Opening Day, had allowed one run or less, a stretch of five straight games.

Wednesday: Cliff Lee (2-3 3.69) vs. Ricky Nolasco (3-0 3-23)

Lee is coming off that 16 strikeout performance against the Braves on Friday, and has struck out batters in the double digits in four of his seven starts this season. Lee hasn't gotten a ton of run support this season, coming off a 5-0 loss on Friday and a no decision in his previous start which he allowed just one run over seven innings. He's searching for his first win since April 14, a complete game shutout victory over the Nationals. His only victories this year have been over the lowly Nats and Houston Astros.

Nolasco is coming off a season high 11 K performance against Washington over seven innings in a no decision; he allowed two runs. He's pitched a quality start in all but one start this season, when he allowed five earned over five innings against the Braves on April 14 in a no decision.

This should be an interesting series, with fairly even pitching match-ups. Florida would need to sweep the Phils to come out in first place.

1 comment:

  1. Hey there. Not sure of a better place to post this, but I've been letterpress printing some Phillies Beer Coasters using the older logo...

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