Philadelphia Phillies (9-10) vs. Chicago Cubs (6-13)
News from Ruben Amaro – Cliff Lee has a Grade 1 oblique strain and will be sidelined a few more starts. There is no timetable, but could come off the DL when he’s ready. A Grade 1 is the most mild. Ryan Howard is slated to see a wound specialist again, as early as tonight. Mike Stutes will be down for 2-3 weeks with a rotator cuff strain.
The Phillies look to get back to .500 for the fifth time this season when they kick-off a four-game series tonight against the lovable losers from the north side of Chicago at Citizens Bank Park. The match-up is a favorable one for the Phils, as they’ve gone 41-23 against the Cubs over the last decade.
Helping the team’s chances to get back to .500 is the man on the mound, Roy Halladay. Though there has been concern about Doc’s velocity this year (concerns deftly dispelled by Ian Riccaboni), he has managed to continue putting up superb start after superb start. In his last outing against San Diego, Doc was the hard luck loser, a casualty of an ineffective Phillies lineup. He battled for 7 innings, allowing just two runs on 119 pitches. It wasn’t his cleanest outing, but a solid one none the less. He has struggled a bit against the Cubbies for his career, going just 1-4 against them with an ERA of 3.72. Not great numbers by Doc’s impeccably high standards. The six players in the Cubs lineup who have faced Halladay in their careers have gone 28-for-107 (.262) against him with a combined 27 strikeouts, no walks, and three home runs.
Opposing Halladay will be the left-handed Paul Maholm. Maholm has struggled in the early going, posting an ERA over eight with a record of just 1-2. He is coming off his best start of the season, however. Facing the Reds on April 21st, Maholm went six innings, allowing just one run. In seven career starts against the Phillies, Maholm has gone 3-2 with a 4.50 ERA. He’s been slightly worse in Philly, though, as his career ERA at The Bank is 4.91.
The Phils have some guys in the lineup who have done some damage against Maholm. In 44 career at-bats, Hunter Pence has hit .318 against him with two home runs. Juan Pierre has hit .308 in 13 career at-bats and Shane Victorino has hit .500 in 8 at-bats. Ty Wigginton, riding an eleven game hit streak, has also hit .400 against Maholm in ten career at-bats.
Lineup: Pierre LF, Polanco 3B, Rollins SS, Pence RF, Victorino CF, Wigginton 1B, Ruiz C, Galvis 2B, Halladay P
Your Gameday Beer – Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
In case my last two Gameday beer picks haven’t given it away, I’m a fan of the pale ale, and Sierra Nevada’s version ranks right near the top. With an amber color, this full-bodied beer has a complex and delicious taste, rich with spicy hops and an intoxicating (pun intended) aroma. I recommend trying it with a side of chips and taco dip–a delectable combination I had for the first time a couple weekends ago. It is the perfect non-Mexican beer to compliment a meal of Mexican food.– By Ryan