The Phillies go for their first series sweep since Aug. 3, and look to finish 7-3 on their 10-game road trip, when they face the Astros this afternoon.
Let's be honest. I don't like today’s game. Road sweeps are tough business, plus, the Phillies are finishing off a 10-game road trip. The way they’ve played before homecomings, in games that would appear to be in their favor, hasn’t instilled much confidence. I can cite two games at RFK, including a crushing 6-5 loss to the lowly Nationals on Aug. 31. Plus, I never like teams coming off big, emotional performances, like Cole's near no-no.
I don’t like the pitching matchup, either. I don’t possess a lengthy scouting report on Wandy Rodriguez (9-9, 5.43 ERA), but he’s a left-hander, and the Phillies are really battling against them. He’ll give up walks (59 in 129.1 IP), so a patient approach might be key to getting to him early. He’s pitching in place of Andy Pettitte, who was scratched with a strained flexor muscle.
I don’t expect Randy Wolf (3-0, 5.56 ERA) to come up as small as he did Wednesday, but I’m not expecting a repeat of what Cole Hamels did yesterday. Wolf hasn’t been locating much of anything (26 BB in 43.2 IP), and is falling back on his breaking pitch far too often.
The Phillies remained 1.5 games behind the wild card-leading Padres, who beat the Dodgers 11-2 Saturday, but they opened up a two-game advantage over San Francisco and Florida. The Phils have 14 more games, including this one.
After several innings of stalemate, David Dellucci broke open the scoring with his 13th homer of the season. Looch had been in a serious funk, hitting .158 (9-for-57) in his previous 24 games. After that, the Phillies slowly put the game out of reach.
Arbuckle says it's time for Floyd to step up
The Phillies are making it clear: No more coddling Gavin Floyd
An article by Courier Times scribe Randy Miller has the latest on the ongoing Floyd saga. The former No. 1 pick was passed over as a September call-up after another inconsistent season in the minor leagues. He will prepare for a stint in the Arizona Fall League instead.
Miller interviewed Phillies assistant GM Mike Arbuckle, the official with the closest connection to Floyd. He’s what it said:
Floyd's problems remain the same. He can't repeat his delivery for long stretches, thus he loses fastball velocity and break on his curve, and he gets flustered when things go wrong, thus labeling him a softie.
The Phils have refined his delivery again and again. They talk to him about getting meaner on the mound. At this point, they feel they can't do much more than wait and see if Floyd decides to embrace the changes he needs to make.
“We can talk all we want, but he knows what he needs to do,” Arbuckle said. “We tried a lot of different things, but there comes a point for any player where they have to do it for themselves.
“Gavin's stuff is good enough to be in an upper-part of a big-league rotation and it's very difficult to give up on him,” Arbuckle said. “Even if we wanted to trade him, right now, you'd get pennies on the dollar.
“Gavin can be a quality big-league pitcher because of his stuff, but it's about time for him to step up and start doing it, quite frankly.”