The reigning pennant winners open a three-game set starting tonight at Tropicana Field, where ailing slugger Ryan Howard has been spotted. No decision has been made on his status for tonight.
Preview: Following a 1-8 homestand, the Phillies, losers of six straight, better start watching their back. The Mets, Marlins and Braves all won yesterday, putting them 1.5, 3 and 4 games back, respectively. It’s not as though those teams are playing particularly well, but here they are. Maybe a nine-game road trip is just what the team needs, which starts tonight when Jamie Moyer (4-6, 6.35) and David Price (1-1, 3.46) step on the mound. Moyer last faced the Rays in Game 3 of the World Series, a no-decision, as everyone recalls. Price remembers Eric Bruntlett, who homered off him in the ninth inning of Game 2. Howard, who was diagnosed with acute sinusitis on Monday, is back with the club, according to reports, and if he feels well enough, could be reinserted into the lineup tonight. Elsewhere in nearby St. Petersburg, Brad Lidge is scheudled to pitch the eighth inning tonight for the Class-A Threshers (what if the starter is working on a no-hitter?). This marks his second rehab appearance following a 15-pitch outing Saturday for Double-A Reading.