Red Sox (18-20) at Phillies (20-19)
Daniel Bard (3-4, 4.30) vs. Cole Hamels (5-1, 2.28)
The Phillies will be without Charlie Manuel, who is serving a one-game suspension (explained here), tonight when they take the field against the AL-rival Boston Red Sox in search of their sixth consecutive win. In year’s past, the Boston series has always been high-profile, with both team’s regularly contenders. This weekend will look a little different, however, as both team’s enter tonight’s game in last place in their respective divisions and the Red Sox sporting a sub-500 record.
The series will be the Phillies first foray into inter-league play of 2012. Historically, inter-league play has been a struggle for the Phils, as they’ve gone 115-135 since its inception. They’ve found some success over the last two seasons, though, combing for a 19-14 record in games against the AL.
On the mound for the Phils will be their young stud, Cole Hamels. So far this season, Hamels has been better than ever, posting a 6-1 record with a 2.28 ERA. His 9.32 K/9 rate is good for tenth in baseball, and his 1.04 WHIP has him ranked 13th among National League pitchers. As good as Hamels has been this season, he’s been even better throughout his career when pitching against the Bosox. In four career starts, he’s gone 3-0 with a 1.44 ERA. Those numbers were accumulated mostly against a different lineup than the one he’ll be seeing tonight. Current Red Sox hitters have combined for a .295 average against Hamels with nine home runs in 105 at-bats.
The Red Sox will counter with reliever-turned-starter Daniel Bard. Once thought to be heir to the closer role when Papelbon left, Bard was converted into a starter this winter when the Red Sox acquired Andrew Bailey from Oakland. For his career, he has posted a 9.82 ERA against the Phillies. Those numbers can be thrown out the window, as they all came when Bard was a reliever and are also the product of a small sample size (3.2 innings pitched). Of the current Phillies hitters to have faced Bard, only Ty Wigginton has ever gotten a hit off him (2-for-6 lifetime).
Lineup: Rollins SS, Pierre LF, Victorino CF, Pence RF, Ruiz C, Wigginton 3B, Mayberry 1B, Galvis 2B, Hamels P
Your gameday beer: Saranac Blueberry Blonde Ale
Blonde ale mixed with blueberry juice and natural blueberry flavor, the Saranac Blueberry Blonde Ale has a mild taste, defined by slightly bitter hops that really show off the blueberry undertone as you swallow. The refreshing blueberry taste is perfect for warmer spring nights like tonight, when our collective foot is just on the doorstep of summer. Have it with some fresh vegetables and pasta. –By Ryan