After extending their walk-less streak to three games, lowering their team OBP to .287 and making it 54 scoreless innings in the last 62, the Phillies return home for a four-game series with the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Cards are also struggling at the plate, slugging just six points higher than the Phillies with an identical 34 walks. Matt Holliday is just starting to come around, and Carlos Beltran and Allen Craig haven't yet gotten off the ground. Yadier Molina has been steady as always, with hits in eight of nine games and RBIs in four of five, but the key has been contributions from the guys you've never heard of.
Matt Adams is 11 for 21 with three homers and two doubles. Pete Kozma has done his best work with men in scoring position. Matt Carpenter is hitting .296 and leads the team in two-baggers.
The key to the last series was keeping the Reds' two-hole hitter off base. The Phillies couldn't do that, and they lost all three games. The key to this series is getting to the St. Louis bullpen.
Cards starters have a 2.19 ERA, while the bullpen is at 6.08. Jason Motte is out, probably for the season, and Mitchell Boggs has been out of his element as the fill-in closer. Boggs has allowed eight runs and 15 baserunners in 7 1/3 innings. Five of seven St. Louis relievers have an ERA over 5.00.
Getting to the bullpen will be tough in these first two games, however. Adam Wainwright goes in Game 1, after a four-hit shutout with 12 Ks. Wainwright has 24 strikeouts and no walks this season. His curveball has been devastating as always, holding the opposition to a .150 batting average. From 2007-12 that number was .157.
Cole Hamels goes against Wainwright on Thursday. Hamels is coming off a good-but-not-great outing against the Marlins in which he allowed one run over six innings, walked three and had 18 pitches fouled off. He'll need to finish these batters off better.
It doesn't get easier on Friday, when the Phils take on Jaime Garcia. The lefty allowed four runs to them in six innings the last time they met, but had a 0.96 ERA in four previous starts.
Fun note: Phillies catchers are hitting .167 with a .441 OPS. Phillies pitchers are hitting .172 with a .441 OPS.
Lannan to the DL
John Lannan had a 2.77 ERA and a major-league leading 71.1% groundball rate through two starts, but was rocked last night and has been placed on the 15-day DL with a left quad strain.
No replacement has been named as of yet. Lefty Adam Morgan would be a logical choice, as he's started the season hot in Triple-A. He pitched today and allowed one run over five innings to raise his ERA to 1.42.
With Domonic Brown ailing and Ben Revere down to .194, Charlie Manuel's lineup looks much different in the series opener.
1) Jimmy Rollins, SS (first leadoff appearance of season)
2) Freddy Galvis, LF (first-ever pro start in OF)
3) Chase Utley, 2B
4) Ryan Howard, 1B
5) Michael Young, 3B
6) John Mayberry, RF
7) Ben Revere, CF
8) Erik Kratz, C (0-for-750 with 749 GIDPs this season)
9) Cole Hamels, P