Gameday: Astros (15-19) at Phillies (16-19)

Houston Astros (15-19) at Philadelphia Phillies (16-19)

Lucas Harrell (2-2, 4.58) vs. Joe Blanton (3-3, 3.24)

Time: 7:05, Citizens Bank Park
Weather: Showers, 68
Media: Twitter and Facebook

2012 hasn’t started the way fans had hoped, but the Phillies’ schedule seems to be in their favor this week. The Phillies were able to win the series against the Padres, who currently have the worst record in Major League Baseball. Tonight, they open a two game set with the Houston Astros, another team below .500. Then, they head to Chicago to face the Cubs, who are last in their division, then return home to face the Boston Red Sox who are also in last place. With this week’s schedule, the Phillies are in a perfect position to improve their record.  The Phillies need to take advantage and win the next few series.

The Astros don’t have much expectations for the 2012 campaign, other than finishing towards the bottom of their division. Despite being under .500, the Astros haven’t been completely awful to this point. Wandy Rodriguez has been their best pitcher, and they’ve gotten some offense out of their 22-year-old second baseman, Jose Altuve. Brett Myers returned to the closers’ role and has converted nine out of ten saves.

Joe Blanton takes the mound for the Phillies, looking to continue his hot streak. In his last three starts, Blanton is 2-1 with a 2.35 earned run average. Opponents are hitting .195 against him in his last 23 innings. Also during that span, Blanton has 21 strikeouts.

Blanton will be opposed by Lucas Harrell. Harrell has struggled in his last two starts, allowing ten runs in his last 11 innings. If Harrell is to struggle again, the Astros will have to rely on their bullpen. Unlike the Phillies, the Astros’ bullpen has pitched very well, posting a 2.70 ERA.

Lineup: Rollins SS, Pierre LF, Victorino CF, Pence RF, Ruiz C, Polanco 3B, Mayberry 1B, Galvis 2B, Blanton P.

Artois BockYour Gameday Beer– Artois Bock

Tonight we’ll try Stella Artois. This strong Belgium lager is 6.2% alcohol by volume. The bock has all the components of a good dark beer, sweet flavors of molasses, caramel and toffee. Some might think there is too much sweetness. It goes well with BBQ shrimp. – By Brian


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