PHILADELPHIA — The Phillies find themselves in a position they haven’t been in for a very long time: last place in June.
Sitting five games under .500 (32-37) and eight games behind the first place Nationals, the Phillies are looking to gain some ground heading into the All-Star Break.
Talking with one of the TTB writers yesterday, Dan MacNeal, we both feel the Phillies have a little bit of a run in them. Perhaps if the team can win 70% of its next 18 games (13-5 record) they could find themselves maybe four or five games out of first and with a 45-42 record heading into the break.
In that time, Chase Utley will have returned to the line up and more news on the progress of Ryan Howard will be made (hopefully in an official rehab stint by the break).
The 18 games remaining start with nine more home games on this 10-game homestand. The Phillies have two more with the Rockies before hosting one of the best teams in the American League, Tampa Bay, and the Pittsburgh Pirates who are currently playing some good baseball.
They will then embark on the road to play three games in Miami before a day off and three games at Citi Field against the Mets. After that, they play a three-game home series against the Braves to finish off the first half.
Of those remaining games, only the Rockies (25-41) are under .500. And the remaining nine games will be against division rivals, making those nine games even more important.
That’s 16 games against good teams, making the .700 winning percentage seem a little bit out of reach. But all it takes is for the team to play like it did in last night’s 7-2 win over the Rockies.
Timely hitting, good starting pitching and hopefully when it comes down to it in future games, a solid effort from the pen. I know it sounds a little different than my panic button post a couple days ago but this is baseball, it’s June and anything can happen between now and September.
PITCHING — The run starts tonight with Joe Blanton (6-6, 4.93) taking the mound for the Phillies. The Rockies will be throwing their “best” option of the series in Alex White (2-5, 5.56).
Blanton rolled in his last start, allowing one run in a complete-game win over the Twins. It also snapped five straight starts where Blanton allowed at least five runs.
WIN AT HOME — If the Phils win tonight they’ll snap a streak of four straight series losses in their home park. Their record at home is a dismal 13-19, worst in the National League and third worst in all of baseball.
GONZALEZ POSSIBLY RETURNS — The Phils dodged a bullet yesterday when Rockies star slugger Carlos Gonzalez didn’t play. He was scratched this past Sunday with a strained knee and didn’t play in yesterday’s 7-2 loss.
He could be in the lineup tonight against the Phillies. In his career against Blanton, Gonzaelz is 5-for-6 with two homers.
Gonzalez is hitting .335 with 17 home runs and 51 RBIs on the season.