Tonight in MLB: Trio of potential playoff pairings
If it’s any consolation after yet another eighth inning meltdown and loss, the Phillies are only two games out of the sixth spot in the wild card standings. (That was the goal in spring training, right?)
The task is daunting, but all the Phils can do is try to leapfrog one team at a time. They’re 11 games out of the second wild card spot, and Friday’s opponent, the Brewers, are 11½ out.
Here is a look at some other notable Friday games:Pirates at Cardinals, 8:15 p.m.
The game of the night features Pittsburgh and St. Louis, two teams
within one game of each other for the second wild card spot. The Pirates
are 65-53, the Cardinals are 64-54.
Pirates starter James McDonald desperately needs to get back on track.
He’s been so bad lately that Clint Hurdle has toyed with the idea of
moving him to the bullpen.
On July 7, McDonald struck out 10 Giants to improve to 9-3 with a 2.37
ERA. In his six starts since, he’s given up 30 runs in 31 innings
to raise his ERA to 3.77. Walks (21) and home runs (8) have been major
problems during McDonald’s cold streak.
The Cardinals counter with Jake Westbrook, who induced a season-high 18 ground balls against the Phillies last Saturday. Dodgers at Braves, 7:35 p.m.
Tommy Hanson returns from the 15-day DL to make his 23rd start of the season.
Hanson, 12-5 with a 4.29 ERA, still hasn’t made the expected step from the middle of Atlanta’s rotation to the front. His fastball velocity is down two full miles per hour, from about 92 to 90. The Braves are 10-1 in his last 11 starts, but Hanson’s ERA has actually gone up by 0.45 points in that span.
He’s opposed by Dodgers lefty Chris Capuano, a prime candidate for Comeback Player of the Year. Coming off an 8-inning, no-run, 10-strikeout game vs. the Marlins, Capuano is 11-8 with a 3.11 ERA.
It will be interesting to see how Capuano performs at Turner Field. He has a 2.17 ERA this season at Dodger Stadium and a 4.14 everywhere else.
The Braves are rolling and don’t look like a team capable of suffering another September collapse. They’ve won three in a row and seven of 10 and have received contributions from so many sources. Chipper Jones is hitting .315 and went deep twice Thursday night. Jason Heyward has 20 homers. Martin Prado is hitting .300. Michael Bourn’s at .290.
The result is a 69-49 record that has Atlanta five games ahead of the Giants and 5½ ahead of the NL West-leading Dodgers.Rays at Angels, 10:05 p.m.
The positivity surrounding Mike Trout and the Angels’ exciting offense overshadows their 5-10 record in August. At 62-57, the Halos are seven games behind the Rangers and 2½ behind the Orioles for the second wild card spot.
David Price completely baffled the Angels Thursday night and Friday’s matchup has even more star power.
James Shields (10-7, 4.02) takes on AL Cy Young favorite Jered Weaver (15-2, 2.22).
Shields is cruising, having allowed three runs in his last 24 innings with 19 strikeouts and 12 baserunners allowed. Maybe it helps not facing the best teams in baseball for a change. Shields’ last three starts were against the Twins, Blue Jays and Athletics; nine of his first 19 were against the Yankees, Rangers, Tigers and Red Sox.
Weaver has allowed more than three runs just once in his last 13 outings.
Evan Longoria hit a two-run homer Thursday, his first since returning from a 13-week DL stint on Aug. 7. Longo is 8 for 33 (.242) with seven RBI in nine games since re-joining the 64-54, wild card-leading Rays.E-mail Corey Seidman at firstname.lastname@example.org