They play in front of 30,000 empty seats, but games in Florida are filled with juice. The Phillies get their first crack at the early division leaders tonight.
On one hand, you have national writers speculating that the Marlins may be for real 15 games into the season. On the other hand, they’re swept by the Pirates Wednesday, falling to 5-4 against every team not named the “Natinals” (hat tip to reader EFF). Once again, rhyme or reason is in short supply this April. One day, the Phillies’ offense appears well-oiled and ready, and in the next, they bang out a whole two runs off Braden Looper, Dave Bush and a bad Milwaukee pen to lose a three-game set at home.
Tonight, the Phillies get their first look at Josh Johnson (2-0, 2.91). Tim Kurkjian wondered if Johnson had ascended to the top of the pitching ranks in the latest ESPN Magazine, considering the slow starts by Cole Hamels, Tim Lincecum and others. It must have been written before his last outing, a six-run pasting at the hands of the Nationals.
For the Phillies, nothing says fun and excitement like watching Brett Myers (1-1, 5.03) pitch in front of the orange and teal backdrop of Dolphin Stadium, where he’s 1-4 with a 6.59 ERA in 12 games, including a busted-arm relief appearance.
I love baseball in Florida. Fan-freakin'-tastic.
Notes: Is there a worse run creator in the league with more than 50 plate appearances than Jimmy Rollins? Yes, J.J. Hardy, who was instrumental in the Brewers’ win over the Phillies on Wednesday. Way to go. Following up on Cole Hamels, Phillies.com scribe Todd Zolecki said he will be ready for his next start. Catcher Carlos Ruiz is set to begin a rehab assignment in Lehigh Valley.