There’s no such thing as a must win game in April, but another low scoring loss would be really demoralizing. Charlie’s frustrated, the team’s frustrated, and lord knows the fans are frustrated. Things won’t get any easier tonight as the Phillies face another lefty in Wandy Rodriguez. Let’s all take the positive outlook and say they are due for thumping some left-handed pitching.
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Roy Halladay (2-2, 6.04 ERA)
Doc’s line still doesn’t look so great at first glance, but he has cut his ERA in half after his first two starts. His last outing against St. Louis was vintage Halladay. He pitched a complete game (thanks to mother nature) only giving up two hits and striking out six. More importantly he had command of all his pitches, and he had great movement as well. Another solid outing tonight against the Pirates will put all the doubters to rest, and continue to build Doc’s confidence as he continues his re-invention. It won’t be any easier as the Phils offense is still a no-show nearly a month into the season. At the rate they’re going, a no hitter might be needed from Halladay if the Phils are going to win one.
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Wandy Rodriguez (2-0, 0.56 ERA)
The Phillies offensive struggles are only magnified when facing a pitcher like Wandy Rodgriguez. Not only is he left handed, but Rodriguez has been lights out to start the season. He came to the Pirates at the trade deadline last year from Houston and pitched well, but he’s kicked things into another gear this year. I won’t be so cynical to say that it’s because of his impending free-agency, but whatever the motivation it’s working. He missed a start due to a minor injury, but rebounded in his last start dominating the Braves. If you can keep the 2013 Braves in the park you’ve done a great job. Anyone looking for answers as to why Wandy has been so good can just look at his command. He’s only allowed one walk in three starts, throwing his fastball and breaking stuff wherever he needs em.
It’s no shock to find out that Halladay has great numbers against Pirates hitters in his career. One guy who has his number though is Gaby Sanchez. Go figure. Despite being right handed don’t be surprised to see him in the lineup tonight. Sanchez is hitting .257 (7-27) with two long balls off Doc.
It wouldn’t have been my first guess, but Ryan Howard actually has good numbers against Rodriguez. He’s 4-12 against him with a homer and a .585 slugging percentage. Howard isn’t the only Phil who’s had success off him, with Michael Young and Jimmy Rollins hitting a combined 10-27 (.370).
Recent history doesn’t favor the Phillies in this match up, but with good lifetime numbers expect to see Howard break his power slump tonight, and help put Wandy on the hook for his first loss of the year.