Satellite images show scattered precipitation lasting throughout the evening. If the weather holds, Kyle Kendrick (5-3, 3.94 ERA) tries for his first win in four starts against Brett Tomko (2-10, 5.67 ERA) and the Dodgers. Game time is 7:05 p.m.
Homestand preview: Rather than rewrite something that’s already been written, the Reading Eagle provided a tight little homestand preview, as follows:
Despite a bunch of injuries, numerous slumps and questionable decisions, the Philadelphia Phillies have remained in playoff contention. The next 10 days figure to go a long way in determining whether they can stay there. The Phillies go into tonight just a game out of the National League wild card lead as they open a 10-game homestand with the first of three against the Los Angeles Dodgers (64-60). The San Diego Padres (66-57) will next be at Citizens Bank Park for a three-game weekend series, followed by the NL East-leading New York Mets (70-53) for a four-game series beginning next Monday. The Phillies trail the Mets by five games.
“We have to have a winning homestand,” manager Charlie Manuel told Phillies.com following the team’s lost weekend at Pittsburgh. The Phillies blew a 4-0 first-inning lead in an 11-6 loss to the Pirates Saturday, then coughed up a 4-0 lead with two outs in the seventh in an 8-4 loss Sunday. Not the best way to go into the season’s most crucial stretch.
“We want to come back ready to go,” first baseman Ryan Howard said Sunday. “(We need to) forget about this weekend and get after it. You don’t want to add pressure to yourself, but everybody knows what’s at stake.” It would be nice for the Phillies if Howard could get it going again. The reigning NL MVP is hitting just .121 in the Phillies’ last nine games with one home run, six RBIs and 15 strikeouts in 38 plate appearances. He’s hitting .185 in the 22 games since second baseman Chase Utley went on the disabled list.
Pitching matchups: Tonight: Tomko (2-10, 5.67) vs. Kendrick (5-3, 3.94) Wednesday: Derek Lowe (9-11, 3.45) vs. Cole Hamels (14-5, 3.50): Thursday: Chad Billingsley (7-4, 3.63) vs. J.D. Durbin (5-2, 5.36).
Beerleaguer series preview: Since their hot start, the Dodgers have fallen back and trail the stunning Diamondbacks and pitching-powerful Padres in the NL West. I'm not afraid to call the Dodgers the worst team in the division right now, and that would include the last-place Giants and buzz-worthy Rockies. The Dodgers are playing like a mediocre ballclub, bogged down by a below-average lineup.
On the whole, this could feel like a series with the Nationals. They don't put up numbers, but can smother the opposition with pitching. I’m not particularly afraid of any of the pitchers this series, although Lowe has pitched the Phils tough in the past. Hamels can certainly cancel him out tomorrow night. Billingsley is exactly the type of hard-throwing right-hander the Phils can handle, as they did the last time they met.
Since the Phils are an alleged playoff contender, let's set the bar a little higher. Sweep the Dodgers. People are talking about a 7-3 homestand. Well, an opening sweep would be one way to start it. Make a statement. Light 'em up. It’s asking a lot, but if they're serious, turn on the jets. Can they do it? As always, it's about pitching.