The Phillies, losers of eight of nine, try to stop their divisional free fall when they continue Interleague play Tuesday night in Minnesota beginning at 8:10 p.m. ET. Meanwhile, Chase Utley's rehab assignment gets underway an hour earlier in Clearwater, Fla. Watch the live stream here. The Phils enter Tuesday trailing the first-place Nationals by 8.5 games in the National League East.
Beerleaguer: A couple of keys for the Phillies, who face a pair of nobody right-handers in Nick Blackburn and P.J. Walters to open the series, then a tricky lefty in Scott Diamond in the finale. First, the Phils need their starters to pitch deeper in games, which means Kyle Kendrick (tonight) and Joe Blanton (Thursday) will need to pitch at a higher level. Kendrick pitched the game of his career May 26 and was unable to build off that. Phillies starters have only made it through the seventh inning once all month, and that was Cliff Lee's 2-1 loss to the Dodgers June 5. Next, you'd love to see the Phils ambush Blackburn early and use up Minnesota's bullpen to put them on the ropes the rest of the series. Finally, they've gotta play better defense, which might be a given if Placido Polanco is ready to return. You don't know what you have until it's gone.
But to me, deeper starts are the single biggest key to getting back on solid ground, short of dealing for outside help, which isn't happening.
[Jump to the newest comments]