Philadelphia Phillies (8-4) at Atlanta Braves (7-5)
Kyle Kendrick (0-0, 17.47) vs. Tommy Hanson (1-1, 2.38)
Time: 7:10, Turner Field
Weather: Cloudy, chance of rain, 62 degrees
TV: Comcast SportsNet
Well, the last 20 innings or so of that Marlins series were a real riot, weren’t they? The Phillies kick off a nine-game road trip against their greatest historical rival, the tomahawk-chopping, Hooters waitress-loving Atlanta Native American Warriors.
Despite a recent spell of dominance over the Atlanta nine, the Phillies, on their first losing streak of the season, might not have that much cause for optimism tonight, as they oppose their chief rival for the division in 2010 behind a pitcher whose ERA would be able to get its drivers’ license. Tonight also marks the first time the Phillies will face Atlanta’s much-celebrated man-child right fielder, Jason Heyward. Heyward, if the hype is to be believed, can bend the very fabric of space-time itself with his bat, and already has a nickname (Jay-Hey) that is intentionally reminiscent of Willie Mays. Heady stuff.
In all seriousness, the clock on Kendrick’s time as a major league starter is already winding down, and if he wants to stave off demotion, a decent showing in Atlanta would come in real handy right now. If that is to happen Kendrick needs to slow down not just Heyward, but a lineup that boasts the extremely hot bat of Martin Prado, and the always-dangerous Brian McCann. On the flip side, Chipper Jones is off to a slow start, as is shortstop Yunel Escobar (I should know, I have him on my fantasy team), so apart from Prado, McCann, and Heyward, maybe Kendrick will have an easier time.
Then there’s the weather. I went to a wedding in Atlanta last summer, and it’s the most humid place on earth. The lovely couple decided to have their wedding outside, and I wore the only suit I own, which is made of black wool, and I spent the ceremony making like Albert Brooks in Broadcast News. Some prick wearing seersucker started laughing at me and I almost punched him in the face.
Anyway, while it’s only in the low 60s down there, the famous Atlanta humidity might cause a rainout, with a 70% chance of precipitation and 81% humidity. If that happens, we can all go watch the Flyers game and reconvene tomorrow with Roy Halladay on the mound.
This is the first installment of what might be the Phillies’ most important matchup this season, so while a loss here obviously wouldn’t be the end of the world, a win would certainly go a long way toward establishing a bit of confidence, both for Kyle Kendrick and for the team at large.
LINEUP: Victorino (CF), Polanco (3B), Utley (2B), Howard (1B), Werth (RF), Francisco (LF), Castro (SS), Ruiz (C), Kendrick (P)
Your gameday beer: Brouwerij De Landtsheer Malheur 12
Had this one in Belgium. There was a bar called Delirium in Brussels, whose house beer, Delirium Tremens, some of you might be familiar with. That’s good, but this was my beer of choice. It’s a Belgian Quadrupel, quite tasty but darker than Satan’s soul and, at 12% ABV, roughly 3 times stronger than Miller Lite, the Official Beer of Pat Gallen (EDIT: Pat apparently got really upset and wanted to set the record straight: Miller Lite is NOT his beer–he only drinks it when it’s free. You and me both, man). “Malheur” is the French word for “unhappiness,” and it can certainly live up to its name if you’re not careful. My advice? Try it, and then hand over your car keys to a trusted friend.