Philadelphia Phillies (22-23) at St Louis Cardinals (25-19)
For the first time since they eliminated them from last year’s playoffs, the Phillies will take on the St. Louis Cardinals tonight at Busch Stadium. Seeing the Phillies back in St. Louis will no doubt conjure up images of David Freese and the rally squirrel for Phils fans everywhere. This is not the same Cardinals team that beat the Phillies in game 5 of last year’s NLDS, however. Albert Pujols is now in L.A., Lance Berkman could be calling it a career, and Chris Carpenter has yet to throw a pitch in 2012, dealing with a shoulder issue. Despite their new look, this Cardinals team is in first place, and still a very formidable opponent. A big reason for their success so far this season has been their prolific offense, which ranks at or near the top of the N.L. in just about every offensive statistic.
Tonight, Joe Blanton will be tasked with shutting down that offense. 2012 has been very solid for Blanton so far, though he is coming off his worst start of the season, one in which he allowed seven runs (six earned) to the Red Sox over 4.1 innings. For his career, Blanton has faced the Red Birds six times (five starts), posting a 3-2 record and an ERA of 3.03–something that bodes well for the Phils tonight as they try to get back to .500. Another positive sign for the Phillies is the fact that Blanton has pitched better on the road this season, posting a road ERA (3.48) that is almost a half run less than his home ERA (3.90). However, his only two losses against the Cardinals came in his last two starts against them. He’ll look to end that skid tonight.
Veteran right-hander Jake Westbrook will take the ball for the Cardinals, and has pitched quite well this season. For his career, he’s faced the Phils three times, going 1-1 with a 3.52 ERA. Current Phillies hitters are hitting .269 against him in a combined 93 at-bats. Several players in tonight’s lineup have had a ton of success against Westbrook, including Polanco (.321), Pence (.583), and Wigginton (.333). Interestingly, no player on the active roster has ever homered against Westbrook. Jimmy Rollins returns from paternity leave and has been inserted at the top of the batting order.
Lineup: Rollins SS, Polanco 3B, Pence RF, Ruiz C, Victorino CF, Wigginton 1B, Mayberry LF, Galvis 2B, Blanton P
What better way to quench your thirst during the summer-like day we’re moving into than with Saranac’s Summer Ale? With hints of honey and lemon, the Summer Ale is not too bitter in taste and goes down rather smoothly. Have it with a summer salad and some barbecue chicken. – By Ryan