Philadelphia Phillies (11-12) at Atlanta Braves (14-9)
As we turn the page on our calendars, the Phillies close the book on what was one of the most frustrating months in the team’s recent history. Besieged by injuries and overcome with an overall offensive malaise, the Phillies finished April at 11-12. It marks the first time they had a losing month since June of 2009, and the first time they had a losing April since 2007. With a month to forget firmly in the rearview mirror, the Phils now set their sights on May. They’ll kickoff a crucial early season stretch of games against teams currently sitting atop the National League East tonight when they renew their rivalry with the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field.
On the hill will be the youngest of the Phillies trio of aces, left-hander Cole Hamels. So far this season, Hamels has pitched like a man who wants to get paid. While his ERA sits at a sparkling 2.73, Hamels’ peripherals suggest that it could be even lower, if not for some bad luck (his BABIP is currently .333). More impressive, the 10.25 K/BB ratio Hamels currently sports is by far the best of his career. In his last start, Hamels toyed with the Diamondbacks, allowing two runs over eight innings. At one point, he retired 18 in a row. He’s been locked in so far this year, and there’s no reason to suspect things will be any different tonight.
Opposing Hamels for the Braves will be Brandon Beachy. After a respectable 2011, the 2012 version of Beachy is beginning to resemble the man who garnered so much hype as a prospect. His 1.05 ERA is currently the second best in baseball among eligible pitchers, behind only Joe Saunders. He’s allowed just three runs over 25.2 innings of work this season. For a Phillies offense that has struggled, Beachy represents a daunting task. However, the Phils have had some success against him in the past. Via Braves beat writer David O’Brien’s twitter account, @ajcbraves:
“Brandon Beachy is 0-3 with a 3.94 ERA in 6 starts vs. Phillies, and 9-3 with a 3.12 ERA in 26 starts vs. everyone else.”
Along with that, Phils fans can take solace in the fact that there is no way Beachy can sustain pitching at this level; he’ll have to come back to earth at some point. That night could be tonight.
Lineup: Rollins SS, Polanco 3B, Victorino CF, Pence RF, Wigginton 1B, Nix LF, Ruiz C, Galvis 2B, Hamels P.
Your gameday beer: Blue Moon
Tonight’s beer selection comes to us from twitter follower, @Donnavox, but I have to say I’m right there with her on this one. Blue Moon is a Belgian White beer brewed with malted barley and white wheat. It has a hint of orange flavor and a sweet aftertaste. Like the picture shows, it goes great with an orange slice on the rim. Have it with a chicken caesar wrap and a side of crab fries. – By RD