Phillies-Braves: What you need to know
Phillies (45-55) at Atlanta Braves (55-44)7:10 p.m. on CSN
The Phillies looked sluggish Friday night in a 6-1 loss to open a six-game road trip through Atlanta and Washington. Cole Hamels walked six men for the first time in his career and the Phils' offense did nothing off Ben Sheets after Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino produced a run with a single and a double to start the game.
Rollins and Victorino combined to go 4 for 8 with two doubles and two steals. The rest of the team was 3 for 26 with one extra-base hit.
The series continues Saturday night with Joe Blanton and Mike Minor. The Phillies desperately need two weekend wins to have any chance at staying in contention. They enter play Saturday 10½ games behind the Braves for the second NL wild card spot.
Blanton (8-8, 4.70 ERA) has pitched great his last two times out and four of his last five starts have been quality starts. The Braves hit him for six runs (five earned) in 6 1/3 innings in the other outing.
The only shutout of Blanton’s Phillies career came on May 3 at Turner Field, when he allowed just three Braves hits in a 4-0 win.
This could be Blanton’s last start as a Phillie if trade interest picks up prior to next Tuesday’s deadline. Teams looking for starting pitching help could do worse than Blanton, who has 108 strikeouts and just 17 walks in 126 1/3 innings.
Minor (5-7, 5.49) has been homer-prone in his first full season in the Braves’ rotation. The 6-foot-4 lefty allowed six runs or more five times in his first eight starts and has struggled mightily with command at times. He has nine starts of three or more walks, and six starts of one or fewer walks.
Minor has pitched well of late (2.33 ERA in July) and has been much better at home than on the road. He’s 3-2 with a 4.69 ERA, a .221 opponents’ batting average and five home runs allowed in eight starts at Turner Field. Everywhere else, he’s 2-5 with a 6.16 ERA, a .283 opponents’ batting average and 16 home runs allowed in 10 starts.
Minor has only made two appearances and one start against the Phillies in his career. The start came way back in 2010, when the Phillies tagged Minor for three runs on seven hits in 2 1/3 innings.Minor’s repertoire
The seventh overall pick in the 2009 draft out of Vanderbilt, Minor is a 24-year-old southpaw who sped through the Braves’ farm system and made his first big league appearance in his second pro season. He struck out 262 batters in 235 minor-league innings and walked just 2.8 per nine.
Minor throws a fastball, changeup, slider and curveball. His fastball is in the 90-93 mph range, while his slider and changeup sit in the mid-80s and his curve in the high-70s. Minor had no platoon splits entering this year, in fact the numbers are eery. Lefties and righties had identical .349 on-base percentages and .469 slugging percentages. This season, lefties are hitting .239 compared to .261 for righties.
Don’t pitch to McCann
Brian McCann hit a three-run homer on Friday, his eighth of the month. McCann has homered against the Phillies in six straight games and has 16 RBI in that span.Key matchups
Blanton vs. McCann: 10 for 24 (.417), three homers
Blanton vs. Michael Bourn: 7 for 14 (.500)
Blanton vs. Martin Prado: 9 for 28 (.321), three homers
Blanton vs. Dan Uggla: 3 for 28 (.107), nine strikeouts
The Phillies haven’t seen much of Minor, but Chase Utley is 2 for 2 with a pair of singles and Ryan Howard is 2 for 3 with two one-baggers of his own.Sound off
Do you think Blanton will be traded prior to next Tuesday’s deadline?E-mail Corey Seidman at firstname.lastname@example.org