San Diego won’t go away. They beat the sinking Reds 4-2 this afternoon. The Phillies will try to keep pace tonight when they send Jamie Moyer to the hill.
Clay Hensley struck out a career-high seven batters and earned the win in the latest impressive gem from the National League’s best pitching staff. After today, their ERA will dip below 3.95 on the season. Only two Phillies regulars – Geoff Geary and Tom Gordon – have ERAs under that number. San Diego is also winning with defense, ranked first in baseball according to Baseball Prospectus’ defense efficiency ratio. The Phillies are ranked 25th.
So there you have it. The tendency is to look at San Diego’s lineup and say "meh," but the fact is, pitching and defense make them a scary threat to come out of the National League. As for postseason offense, all any team needs are timely hits. If the pitching is there, and the defense is there, you have a shot.
The Phillies now find themselves two full games back in the Wild Card race, doing themselves a huge favor by sweeping last night’s double-header. The Phils bounced back from deficits in both games, thanks to good starting pitching from Jon Lieber and an incredible effort from the bullpen.
Tonight, they go with Jamie Moyer (2-1, 3.95 ERA), whose acquisition has helped Philadelphia stay alive in the playoff race. The Braves counter with rookie Chuck James (9-3, 3.57 ERA), who was a pest the last time these teams met. James is 5-0 with a 1.96 ERA over his last seven starts.
Best of the press notes
-- Lifetime against Atlanta, Ryan Howard is hitting .418 (41-98), 10 HR, 26 RBI. Yet the Braves still pitch to him. On the flipside, David Dellucci stinks against Atlanta, hitting .167 (13-78), 6 RBI career, and at Turner Field, .087 (2-23) with 1 RBI. He started both games and went 1-for-8. Meanwhile, Pat Burrell has been very good lately at Turner Field, going 9 for his last 29 with two homers.