Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Brotherly love: Phillies series preview


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To those who haven’t lived close to the capital of Pennsylvania, we might just think that Philadelphia is famous for being mentioned in the theme song to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. But it turns out they are home to a pretty good baseball team too; in fact the best team in baseball last season.

For Phillies fans that are at least 20 years old, mentioning the Toronto Blue Jays just brings flashbacks of that chilly October evening when Joe Carter made Mitch Williams famous for all the wrong reasons. Going into this series against the defending World Champions, it’s always great to keep that “Mitch Williams” card in the deck just in case things get ugly.

I’m almost afraid to mention the name Raul Ibanez in fear of being chastised about the importance of the “written word” from Ken Rosenthal. Remember when Ibanez was actually mentioned in trade talks with the Jays last July? The supposed deal on the table involved Lyle Overbay and either Jason Frasor or Brandon League for Raul Ibanez. In retrospect, I am still happy with the way things transpired - Overbay and Frasor have improved this season, and signing Ibanez to a multi-year contract probably would have been out of the price range for the Blue Jays anyway.

The heart of the Phillies lineup is one of the deadliest in baseball with Utley, Howard, and Ibanez all close to the top in offensive categories amongst National League hitters. The pitching staff is a little worn down after losing Brett Myers for the season and most recently Brad Lidge has been sidelined to the disabled list with a sprained knee. The Phillies ace, Cole Hamels has a 4-2 record but typically doesn’t pitch more than 6 innings per start. After a rough start to the 2009 campaign, Joe Blanton has settled down a bit, but his ERA is still a robust 5.17. Then there’s Jamie Moyer, who hasn’t been able to keep the ball in the park - he’s given up 14 home runs in 12 starts.

One thing that the Blue Jays have going for them is that the Phillies have a 13-16 record at home this season, which is good news for the team that still hasn’t won a single interleague game this season. Bring on the cheesesteaks!

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