Philadelphia Phillies (24-23) at St Louis Cardinals (25-21)
In the first two games of this series, the Phillies have looked like a team that is still very much feeling the sting that accompanied an early playoff exit when the Cardinals unexpectedly upset them in last season’s NLDS . The Phils can still taste the bitterness, and they’ve looked determined to wash it away in defeating the Cardinals two games in a row. In a way, the Phils have turned the tables on the Cards in the two victories. Much like the Cardinals during last year’s playoffs, the Phils have been the team to keep battling, to claw and scrap and find a way to victory, no matter what it takes. The effort has been a breath of fresh air for a Phillies team that has, at times this season, looked completely incapable of coming back from a deficit or out-slugging an opponent to win a ball game. The series has all the makings of a turning point, if only the Phils can get one of these next two games.
Behind the arm of Kyle Kendrick, they’ll try to assure themselves a series victory tonight. Despite most fans’ perception of KK, he hasn’t been too bad as a starter this season. His 4.33 ERA in five starts is respectable. If you take away his first start against Arizona, in which he allowed seven runs over just 3+ innings, his ERA drops to 2.25. In his last start against Washington, he took the loss. But it was more due to the fact that the Phillies didn’t score any runs. He went seven innings and gave up just two runs. It does bear mentioning that in those last four starts where Kendrick has been much better, he’s faced the Cubs twice and the Nationals twice–two teams that rank 14th and 13th in the NL in runs scored, respectively. He’ll be dealing with a different monster tonight when he faces an offensive juggernaut in the Cardinals.
Jaime Garcia gets the nod for the Cardinals, looking to stop their two-game skid. Fans are, no doubt, very familiar with Garcia, as he has been a thorn in the side of Phillies hitters for a few years now. In six career games (four starts) against the Phils, Garcia has posted a 1.20 ERA. Current Phillies hitters have hit a combined .193 against Garcia, though they do have nine walks to 11 strikeouts. Some will remember that Garcia’s last start against the Phils came when he faced Cole Hamels in game three of last year’s NLDS. Garcia stymied the Phils over six innings until Ben Francisco did this.
Hopefully the Phils can find some more magic tonight against Garcia.
Lineup: Rollins SS, Polanco 3B, Pence RF, Wigginton 1B, Victorino CF, Mayberry LF, Galvis 2B, Schneider C, Kendrick P
It’s Memorial Day Weekend. That means, whether you’re celebrating down the shore, going to a local picnic, relaxing at home, or watching the game after a day of work, you pretty much have to drink an American beer. Why not go with the summer selection from one of the finest breweries our fair country has to offer? Enjoy it and be safe out there this weekend. – By Ryan