Phillies-Braves: What you need to know
Phillies (37-47) vs. Atlanta Braves (43-39)7:05 p.m. on CSN
What was in line to be one of the Phillies’ best wins of the season instead turned into one of the most crushing defeats in a year filled with late-inning misery.
The Phils scored five runs off Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, who had allowed zero runs in his six of his previous seven starts, and carried a 5-4 lead into the ninth. But Jonathan Papelbon’s second blown save led to yet another walkoff loss, this one coming right before Ryan Howard makes his much-anticipated season debut.
It’s a shame – with the positive feelings surrounding Howard’s return from Achilles surgery, Thursday night and Friday afternoon could have been a rare high-point for Phillies fans. But the Phils, 10 games under .500 and trailing the Nationals by 13 games, just haven’t had luck on their side in 2012.
Perhaps the bats will wake up over the next few weeks to propel the Phillies back into contention in the National League. Howard is certainly a help – his presence turns the Phillies’ lineup into one of the best in the league (see story)
. Ryan’s return
The Phillies sorely missed Howard over the first 84 games. Phillies’ first basemen were 18th in baseball in home runs and OPS and 20th in on-base percentage.
The collection of Ty Wigginton, John Mayberry, Hector Luna, Laynce Nix and Jim Thome hit .258/.319/.414. Howard, in 2011, his worst full season in the majors, hit .253/.346/.488. That’s significant. Starting pitchers
Kyle Kendrick (2-8, 5.35 ERA) takes on Tim Hudson (6-4, 3.87) Friday night.
Kendrick hasn’t pitched well lately, but don’t tell him that. The righthander allowed five runs in the first inning to Pittsburgh his last time out, his fourth time in the last five starts allowing at least five runs, but after the game said he thought he gave the Phillies a chance to win.
The Phillies are 4-8 in Kendrick’s starts this season and 4-13 when he appears. He has a 6.96 ERA since pitching a shutout in St. Louis on May 26.
Kendrick is 6-1 with a 2.53 ERA in 15 appearances (10 starts) vs. the Braves. That said, his strikeout and walk numbers against Atlanta are terrible, at 27 and 24 in 67 2/3 innings.
Hudson has made just 12 starts this year, as he missed much of April with a back injury. Of those 12 starts, five have been great, four were very bad and three were average.
Hudson is 7-8 with a 3.71 ERA in 22 starts against the Phillies. He has 83 strikeouts and 58 walks vs. the Phils for a 1.43 strikeout-to-walk ratio, his worst against any NL foe. Hudson’s repertoire
A sinkerballer, Hudson has had made a great career out of keeping the ball in the infield. He has a 58.8 percent career groundball rate, which is why he’s able to get away with striking so few batters out.
Hudson’s sinker is between 89-91 miles per hour, and righties have struggled mightily against it in recent years, batting .232 off Hudson since 2009. Key matchup(s)
The only three-homer game of Ryan Howard’s career came in Sept. 2006 against Hudson. On that day, the eventual MVP took Hudson deep for his 50th, 51st and 52nd home runs of the season.
Lifetime, Howard is a .327 hitter off Hudson with six homers, 10 walks and just eight strikeouts in 63 plate appearances. Howard has more plate appearances vs. Hudson than any other pitcher.
Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley haven’t fared well against Hudson, batting a combined .209 in 115 at-bats.
Current Braves are hitting .310 off Kendrick. He must be careful with two Braves in particular – Michael Bourn and Jason Heyward.
Bourn is 5 for 10 off Kendrick with a homer. His contract year has gone the exact opposite of Shane Victorino’s. While Victorino hasn’t hit well, Bourn is experiencing a career year, hitting .307 with a career-high seven home runs, a .812 OPS and 23 steals. He also leads the majors in three-hit games, with 14.
Heyward is on fire. He hit .348 with a 1.053 OPS in June and he already has two more homers in July. He’s just 1 for 11 lifetime off Kendrick, though.Sound off
Can a Phillies lineup with Howard, Utley, Hunter Pence and a perpetually hot Carlos Ruiz make a second half run to earn a playoff berth?E-mail Corey Seidman at email@example.com