It’s a beautiful afternoon for baseball in Philadelphia, where Joe Blanton (1-2, 5.49) and the Phillies try for the series split this afternoon against Ryan Dempster (2-4, 3.49) and the Cubs. First pitch is 1:05.
Preview: The Phillies have capitalized on a run of weak opponents and deep starts lately. Aside from the last two duds, the offense has set a torrid pace, leading the league in May hitting (.294) and OPS (.853). Pitching-wise, the last start that didn’t go at least six innings was Cole Hamels’ May 9 outing against Atlanta, and the Phils won that one. As a result, they've masked an ugly-looking ‘pen currently comprised of J.C. Romero, Chad Durbin, Jose Contreras, David Herndon, Antonio Bastardo, Danys Baez and Nelson Figueroa, which, in one man’s opinion, would not be able to withstand a playoff series. The competition will feel more like October in the coming weeks as they open the interleague schedule, starting with a three-game taste against Boston this weekend.
Perhaps that’s why Charlie Manuel has been sparing his bullpen and giving some of his regulars intermittent rest. Jayson Werth sits for the first time since April 14, clearing room for Ross Gload, making only his second start for the Phils. Paul Hoover also replaces Carlos Ruiz behind the plate. Cholly’s lineup reads Jimmy Rollins 5, Raul Ibanez 6, Gload 7 and Hoover 8.