Friday, July 27, 2012

Phils open season deciding series with Braves

This is a make or break weekend for the Phillies. They're in Atlanta, and the result of these games will likely determine the direction the organization moves for the 2012 season.

Should the Phillies get swept by the Braves, expect Ruben Amaro Jr. to move some pieces. Shane Victorino, Ty Wigginton and Juan Pierre would likely be on the move. Hunter Pence and Joe Blanton could also be on the move in that scenario.

Should the Phils manage to sweep or even take two-of-three, there is a good chance major pieces like Pence and Victorino stay put, and Amaro Jr. intensifies his search for a right-handed arm for the bullpen.

It all starts tonight with the $144 million man on the mound against the tomahawk chopping loons. Cole Hamels (11-4, 3.23) takes on Ben Sheets (2-0, 0.00). Hamels is 11-6 in his career against Atlanta with a 3.69 ERA and 138 strikeouts in 148.2 innings. He faced them on May 1, allowing two runs over six innings with two walks and six strikeouts in a no decision. Sheets has made two starts for Atlanta this season after not pitching since July 2010 for Oakland. He's 2-0 and has yet to allow a run in 12 innings, striking out 11 and walking four. He's 2-4 in his career against Philly with a 4.88 ERA and 35 strikeouts over 48 innings.

The Phils are aiming for their fifth straight victory.

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