Philadelphia Phillies (48-45) at St. Louis Cardinals (53-41)
Joe Blanton, RHP (3-5, 6.21 ERA) vs. Jamie Garcia, RHP (8-4, 2.27 ERA)
Time: 8:15 p.m., Busch Stadium
Weather: Mostly Sunny, 90
Not a lucky number – not for the 2010 Phillies. Seven is an unforgiving number gauging how frustrating, disappointing and utterly befuddling this season has been. It is how many games the team that was heavily favored to return to the World Series has fallen behind the Atlanta Braves in the National League East.
Ten years ago – even five years ago – being seven games back of the Braves might have been regarded as an achievement. Now it is merely cause for fear, loathing and macabre jokes about enduring 25 more years without a title.
So as GM Ruben Amaro works the phones and rumors swirl about Roy Oswalt coming to Philadelphia in another megadeal (it’s worth noting that Oswalt is a year older than Cliff Lee), the only certainty around the 2010 Phillies is injuries. The seemingly indestructible Jamie Moyer suffered an elbow strain Tuesday night, meaning Amaro is going to be at high risk of developing that rare condition known as BlackBerry Ear as he tries to swing a trade for an arm or two.
In the meantime, the Phillies still have ballgames to play, and lately they haven’t been playing them very well. They easily could have lost all six games since the All-Star break, but even their one win Saturday wasn’t much consolation. The task doesn’t get any easier tonight, with Joe Blanton going up against rookie Jamie Garcia. After getting into a handful of games last season, the 24-year-old Garcia has been an outstanding addition to an already loaded Cardinals staff; his 2.27 ERA ranks third in the NL. Blanton has been inconsistent after missing the first month of the season, though his last start, against the Cubs, was one of his sharpest.
Bottom line: Phillies need a win almost as much as they need another starting pitcher.
LINEUP: Polanco 3B, Victorino CF, Francisco LF, Howard 1B, Werth RF, Rollins SS, Ransom 2B, Ruiz C, Blanton P.
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.