PHI: 36-42, 5th in NL East; MIA: 35-40, 4th in NL East
When: June 29-July 1
Where: Sunlife Stadium (Miami, FL)
Friday: Cliff Lee (0-4, 3.72) vs Josh Johnson (4-5, 3.96)
Saturday: Cole Hamels (10-3, 3.03) vs Mark Buehrle (6-8, 3.55)
Sunday: Joe Blanton (7-6, 4.87) vs Ricky Nolasco (6-6, 4.78)
Friday, 7:10, PHL 17
Saturday, 4:10, CSN
Sunday, 1:10, PHL 17
All Games on 94.1 FM
Player to Watch – 1B/3B Greg Dobbs: Dobss will draw a lot of interest to Phillies fans for obvious reasons. He was a 2008 hero, and then a dud in his last two seasons with the Phillies in 2009-10. But the last two years he’s been with Miami he’s absolutely killed the Phillies. In his career against the Phils, he’s hitting .341 (15-for-44) with a homer and four RBIs. On the season he’s been playing well, hitting .289 with a homer and 18 RBIs.
Series Overview: The Phillies are coming off a 5-5 home stand. With nine games left before the All-Star Break, the Phillies’ mission is to cut into some of the first place lead the Nationals have.
Step one is passing the Marlins, who the Phillies are half a game behind despite having played three more games. At 35-40, the Marlins are struggling too and the Phillies have to take advantage of that.
It starts with Cliff Lee on the hill for Friday. Lee (0-4, 3.72) is winless on the season, and is the only pitcher with at least 10 starts and without a win in all of Major League baseball. He faces Miami ace Josh Johnson (4-5, 3.96), who has not been himself this season as well.
Saturday is another must-win game for the Phillies because it pits their ace Cole Hamels (10-3, 3.03) against Mark Buehrle (6-8, 3.55). Hamels has been Philadelphia’s best pitcher and the offense needs to back him up every time he’s on the mound.
Sunday’s game will be wide open. Though Joe Blanton has the second most wins in the pitching staff, he has a 4.87 ERA for a reason — he either gets shelled or pitches well. Blanton faces Ricky Nolasco, who is Miami’s version of Blanton.
The Phillies have Chase Utley back, who went 3-for-5 in his return on Wednesday and struck out in a pinch-hit situation on Thursday. He’s slowly getting a feel back for the Major League level of play, a great sign for the Phillies offense.