The Phillies have scored 37 runs this month against Washington, eight against tonight’s starter Ramon Ortiz. They continue their pursuit of the NL Wild Card tonight at RFK, as Ryan Howard goes for No. 49.
Ortiz (9-11, 5.38) is teetering on the edge these days, looking for his first victory in four starts. The Phillies crushed him last Sunday, and overall, the right-hander is 0-2 with a 15.09 ERA in his last three outings.
It’s a good bet Ryan Howard could set the Phillies franchise record with his 49th homer tonight. Left-handers are hitting .318 off Ortiz, who surrendered a long ball to the Howitzer the last time they faced. Howard tied Mike Schmidt’s franchise mark of 48 in last night’s game and is on pace for 57 on the season (although one gets the sense he's capable of hitting one in every at bat.)
The Phillies like to score runs for Cole Hamels (6-7, 4.79 ERA), but not even the mightiest war clubs could save him his last start. The 22-year-old rookie suffered his worst career start, gaving up nine runs -- five earned -- in two innings of an 11-2 loss to the Cubs. Carlos Zambrano held the Phils in check for the Cubbies.
Jeff Conine makes his first start in a Phillies uniform tonight, replacing David Dellucci in right field. Dellucci is riding an 0-for-11 slump and has just three hits since Aug. 18. Conine has yet to get in a game since Sunday’s trade with the Orioles.