Update: Placido Polanco returns to the lineup after missing six games with a laceration to his left index finger.
With their win over the Toronto Blue Jays today, the Washington Nationals now sit a cushy ten games above the Phillies in the N.L. East standings. That is the furthest back the Phillies have been since 2006 when they finished 12 games behind the Mets. A big reason for the widening gap between the Phils and the first-place Nationals has been the porous play since the calendar flipped to June. Since June 1st, the Phils have gone just 1-9. The major culprit for the Phillies skid, despite popular belief, has been faulty performances on the mound, both from the starters. Combined they’ve posted a 4.93 ERA during the month of June, which is more than a run higher than the 3.77 ERA the staff posted during the first two months of the season.
The loss of Roy Halladay certainly hasn’t help the staff, but the results on the field haven’t been there either. Exhibit A: Tonight’s starter, Cole Hamels. After dominating the National League for two months, Hamels has not looked himself in his two starts during the season’s third month. He’s thrown 12.2 innings, which is decent for two starts, but has allowed eight earned runs–good for a 5.68 ERA. He has been slightly victimized by a .324 BABIP in those starts. But, bad luck stats aside, the fact is this team needs a win right now, and Hamels needs to be the guy to give it to them. Hamels has faced the Twins once before in 2010. He got a no decision in that start, allowing three earned runs over seven innings pitched.
Starting for Minnesota will be 27-year old, P.J. Walters. After getting 2012 off to a very good start, Walters has come back to earth in his last two starts, allowing nine runs over 9.1 innings pitched. Walters has never faced the Phillies.
Lineup: Rollins SS, Pierre LF, Pence RF, Thome DH, Victorino CF, Ruiz C, Polanco 3B, Mayberry 1B, Martinez 2B
GAMEDAY BEER: Flying Dog Dogtoberfest
Perhaps it’s the rich amber color, the smooth and sweet taste, or the Hunter S. Thompson quote on the label, but something about this beer really does it for me. It’s been one of my absolute favorites since the first time I had it. It has a complex taste, with elements of sweet and bitter, but also goes down incredibly smooth, without being too abrasive to the palette. Despite the name drawing inferences to Autumn, the Dogtoberfest is actually a perfect summertime beer. Have it with some traditionally grilled food. –By Ryan