The Phillies' 2008 schedule includes very few easy patches, peppered between a number of long slogs, including a tough stretch of games in June and early July. [Link]
Two of the elite teams in the American League, the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, will visit Citizens Bank Park, highlighting what is shaping up to be a much tougher schedule for the defending National League East champions. Interleague play also includes a two-game visit from the “rival” Toronto Blue Jays, along with trips to Oakland and Texas. The Phillies did not play well their last trip to Oakland, and Texas is another unfamiliar destination.
The toughest portion of the schedule falls between June 6 and July 3, which includes the Boston and Anaheim visits sandwiched between two nine-game road trips, including the Oakland and Texas visits along with two trips to Atlanta. Following that, they have a nice 10-game homestand leading into the All-Star break, but it includes potentially tough games against New York, St. Louis and Arizona.
The easiest portions are few and far between. April is a mostly favorable month and includes visits from Washington and Houston and trips to Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. There's a 10-game homestand between May 26 and June 5. The only four-game series at home are against the Reds, Mets, Dodgers and Brewers.
It’s almost becoming a cliche to write this, but I’ll write it anyway. The Phillies need another strong start in April and May to head into the meat of the schedule on solid ground. They are set up in September to control their own destiny in the division against everyone but New York. Other notes:
--- The Phillies play just five games against the Rockies, including two at Colorado on April 21 and 22. Burrrrrr. And for those who like making the trip to Pittsburgh, that's in April, too.
--- For all you Philadelphia transplants living in greater D.C., the first trip to Washington’s new park is Monday, May 19. Unfortunately, they do not get a weekend series in Washington all season.
--- All but four September games occur against division opponents. July is also heavy with divisional games.
--- A potentially tough 10-game road trip starts Aug. 29 with a four-game series against the Cubs, followed by three in Washington and three in New York, which will be the last time the Phils play the Mets (Sept. 7).
--- I see lots of Atlanta creeping into the schedule at critical spots.
--- The Phillies knock off a decent chunk of their West Coast schedule early, but bear in mind the added trip to Oakland. The last swing occurs Aug. 11 – 17 at Los Angeles and San Diego and six of those seven games have 10 p.m. start times.
--- Opening Day is Monday, March 31, against the Nationals. A three-game series with the Nationals closes the regular season, September 26-27-28.