When the Phillies visited Miller Park earlier in the month, they were riding the wave of a four-game winning streak and had celebrated 13 victories in their last 14 games. They ran into some timely hitting and left-handed pitching in Milwaukee, however, and were swept in the three-game series. Since then, the Fightin’ Phils have lost two of three against the Red Sox and Mets to drop to just two games over .500 at 24-22 and four games behind the first-place Mets.
The Brewers haven’t fared any better. After dispensing with the red-hot Phillies, Milwaukee lost two of three to the struggling Twins and the division rival Reds thanks in large part to a starting rotation that has in large part forgotten how to get batters out. The offense has continued to chug along with a steady stream of extra-base hits and has averaged five runs in a game during that stretch but the pitching staff has surrendered more than eight runs per contest.
GAME TIMES & COVERAGE INFO:
Local fans will be able to watch Friday and Saturday’s games with Daron Sutton and Bill Schroeder calling the action on FSN North but Sunday’s afternoon affair will only be available online via MLB.tv.
The table below lists game times and broadcast availability; click on the date to view each game’s Weather.com Game Forecast.
|Game Times / TV Schedule
||6:05 PM CDT
||FSN North, MLB.tv
||6:05 PM CDT
||FSN North, MLB.tv
||12:35 PM CDT
As always, fans can also tune in to hear Bob Uecker and Jim Powell call the action over the team’s statewide radio network.
COVERAGE OF THE PHILLIES:
The Phillies have a raucous following in the blogosphere with a number of distinguished candidates for “must read” status. Tom Goodman’s Swing and a Miss, one of the few Phillies blogs without the letters ph in its name, is a daily dose of exquisite writing and penetrating analysis of the team from Philadelphia’s ups and downs. Equal parts grounded sabermetrician and reactionary fanboy, Goodman’s blog is required reading for those who follow the Phils. Beerleaguer is another strong offering that includes a polished design and comprehensive links to Phillies resources across the web. Other blogs worth reading (in no particular order) include Balls, Sticks, & Stuff, The Good Phight, I’m Not An Athlete, Philliesflow, Phillies Daily, Liberty Ball, A Citizen’s Blog, and the excellent Phillies Nation. The NJ.com team of newspapers offers its own blog as well, Brian Peoples’s enviable Philling Station.
Fans of the franchise are also blessed with several news and fan sites including The Phillies Fan Page, Phillies SportsLine, and eWoss Sports.
On the professional side, the (in-)famous Philadelphia media is represented by the Philadelphia Daily News and Philadelphia Enquirer and the various papers at NJ.com.
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS:
With Ben Sheets on the shelf with an injured shoulder and Doug Davis struggling to regain his 2005 form, Chris Capuano has assumed the role of staff ace and has kept the rotation afloat. The southpaw ranks seventh in the National League in Value Over Replacement Pitcher and has racked up ten consecutive quality starts to open the season. Indeed, his name is easy to find atop several key pitching categories: he ranks fifth in the league in strikeotus with 60, fourth in the league in WHIP at 1.07, and eighth in the league with a .224 opponents’ batting average. He picked up win number five last Sunday against the Twins by limiting Minnesota to three runs (just two earned) on eight hits and two walks in seven innings. It was not his sharpest outing, but the Massachusetts-native struck-out four and induced 14 groundball outs to keep his team in the game. In a start against the Phillies at Miller Park earlier this month, Capuano received a no decision despite holding the Phils to two runs in seven innings while striking out seven and walking only one.
Opposing Cappy in game one is Cory Lidle, a journeyman right-hander whom the Brewers rescued from the independent Pioneer League way back in 1993 after the 21-year old was released by the Twins. After advancing from Beloit to Stockton to El Paso with some success (mostly as a reliever), Lidle was dealt to the Mets for catcher Kelly Stinnett in January of 1996 and has since played for seven different organizations in the past ten years. Throughout all his travels, however, Lidle has given the Brewers fits; in eight career starts against his former club, the Hollywood-native is 2-2 with a 3.74 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in 53 innings. Overall, Lidle is 74-66 with a 4.53 ERA, his best years coming in 2001 and 2002 as a member of the Oakland Athletics. Since then, the 34-year old has developed a reputation as a reliable innings eater who can be counted on to throw close to 200 innings while posting an average or just below ERA. This season, Lidle is 4-4 with a 4.80 ERA and six quality starts in nine tries. He picked up a win in his last outing at home against the Red Sox, limiting their potent offense to just three runs in six innings. His previous start in Milwaukee was also admirable as the right-hander surrendered just two runs in six innings to earn a no decision in a game eventually won by the Crew.
On Saturday, Dave Bush will look to get back on track after a horrible start against the Reds in which he allowed seven earned runs on seven hits (including two home runs) in just four innings at Great American Ballpark. After lowering his ERA to 3.86 in his first start this month, Bush has managed only one quality start in his next four chances and opponents are hitting .262 against him with seven home runs in May. Bush has also struggled mightily on the road, posting an 0-4 record and 8.36 ERA in five games away from Miller Park.
Opposing Bush will be 23-year old Gavin Floyd, who was beaten up a bit in a start against the Brewers last week. Despite limiting the Crew to four hits and two walks in five and a third innings, Floyd surrendered five runs including a homer by Geoff Jenkins and a pair of doubles to Brady Clark and Bill Hall. Floyd’s -4.0 VORP is the worst of any pitcher scheduled to start in the series and his 935 opponents’ OPS would rank last in the NL if he had enough innings to qualify.
In the finale, left-hander Dana Eveland will attempt to hold on to his rotation spot after he managed to eat up only four and two-thirds innings in Cincinnati while surrendering four earned runs on eight hits and two walks. Despite excellent strikeout totals, Eveland has yet to get on track in the big leagues and is 0-for-3 in quality starts. He allowed four runs in five innings against the Phillies in his best outing of the three but has yet to finish the sixth for a team desperate to avoid extending their bullpen.
With phenom Cole Hamels on the shelf after just two starts with shoulder soreness, Ryan Madson will move back into the rotation for Sunday’s contest. A lanky right-hander with a funky delivery, Madson has started six games this season while relieving in five and has been much better out of the pen, limiting opponents to a .237 average (versus .371 in his six starts) while posting a 3.48 ERA (versus 6.82 as a starter). He made two appearances in the Phillies’ series in Milwaukee, combining to allow a run on two hits in one and two-thirds innings.
THE REST OF THE NL CENTRAL:
The Cardinals remain the class of the National League, bested only by the Tigers for best record in all of baseball. Cincinnati’s series victory against the Brewers has kept them within striking distance at four games back while a three-game losing streak has dropped the Astros to six and a half behind the Redbirds and just a half-game in front of the Brewers. The Cubs have entered a tailspin and are now the proud owners of the National League’s third-worst record while the Pirates are doing everything they can to win that dubious distinction for themselves. Thanks to a four-game losing streak by the Bucs and three wins in a row by the Marlins, Pittsburgh is now in sole possession of the National League’s worst record.
|NL Central Standings
|St. Louis Cardinals
After Sunday’s getaway day the Crew will make the trip across Pennsylvania to the Steel City for a four-game series against the Pirates that runs through the first of June. Their reward for the lengthy road trip is a flight back to Milwaukee and a ten-games-in-ten-days homestand against the Nationals, Padres, and Cardinals.
About the Author:
Bill Batterman is a writer for brewerfan.net. He welcomes comments and suggestions via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.