Philadelphia Phillies (12-10) at Saint Louis Cardinals (17-8)
Joe Blanton (0-2, 8.41 ERA) vs. Kyle Lohse (3-0, 1.97 ERA)
Time: 8:15 p.m. at Busch Stadium, Saint Louis
Weather: Mostly sunny, 66
TV: Comcast SportsNet
Twitter: Phillies Nation
Okay, Philadelphia, all eyes on your world champions. The Flyers and Sixers made their annual postseason bow outs, and the Eagles had their draft – the start of probably another 10-6 campaign that ends too soon. So from now on, focus on the team that actually did something.
Barbs aside, tonight begins Phase Two for the 2009 Phillies. The April gate is closed. The first Mets series (however short) is finished. We know the holes. We know the hiccups. We know how good this team can be (yes, they can repeat). Now they have to push their game a little, and it starts with pitching. Joe Blanton looks for his first win against a Cardinals club he has faced just once in his career – a seven-inning game that was one of his best in 2008. He only gave up a home run to the powerful Ryan Ludwick.
On the other side is former Phillie Kyle Lohse, who went 2-0 against the Phillies in 2008. Nobody has had great success against him – Pedro Feliz’ .375 average is only with eight at bats. Still, Feliz is maybe your top third baseman in the National League this season …
The Cardinals fast start is attributed both to their sterling pitching and, of course, another all-universe start by Albert Pujols. He’s hitting .356 with 9 HR and 29 RBI already. This team also scores a lot of runs – they’re second in the National League in runs per game (5.6) to … that’s right, the Phillies (5.8).
The day off yesterday gave the Phillies bullpen a chance to refuel. If Blanton has another shaky outing, you can expect anyone to walk through that door.
Your gamnight beer: I sessioned this Friday night and it wasn’t bad: Steamworks Brewery’s Steam Engine Lager. It calls itself “arguably the best American amber lager in the world.” Heavy words, but it is a good lager. It pours with a golden-to-amber look, like Yuengling, but tastes much sweeter, with hints of yeast and even some fruit: I noted banana, but it might be more citrus. For me it was a session – can’t pound lagers usually – but for those who prefer Yuenglings and the like, seek this out to try. Goes good with pizza.