Series Preview: Phillies at Cardinals

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After gaining a 3-3 split on their 6-game homestand, the Phillies (7-12) travel to Saint Louis to take on a Cardinals team (12-5) that had won four in a row before losing to the Brewers yesterday. The Cards currently hold first place in a talented NL Central.

Meanwhile the Phillies are tied with the struggling division-favorite Nationals at the bottom of the NL East, and this will be the beginning of a 3-city, 10-game road stand. The club won’t return to Citizens Bank Park until Friday, May 8th.

The Cards received some devastating news on Sunday when they learned that their top starting pitcher, Adam Wainwright, is expected miss the rest of the season due to an ankle/Achilles injury suffered while running out of the batter’s box in his most recent outing. That diagnosis is still pending today’s MRI results, but things don’t look good for the righty ace.

Manager Mike Matheny is ready for the challenge: “I think the test is going to be, with Adam, and everyone in here can see the difference in our attitude…We treasure every win we have, but it was different in here last night. We’re just going to hopefully let the guys go back out there and play. They had a little time to think about some of this and the response and the answer is, we knew that some tests were going to come. And, this is a big one that we’re getting early. Let’s see what we’re made of.

More from That Balls Outta Here

While losing the staff ace is a huge blow to any team, the Cardinals still have the firepower to overcome. Pacing their offense are Matt Carpenter (.366/.423/.634, 3 HR-11 RBI-14 R), Matt Holliday (.358/.478/.434, 1 HR-10 RBI), and Jhonny Peralta (.343/.384/.522, 2 HR-9 RBI).

For their part, the Phillies offense has struggled for the most part, scoring 2 runs or fewer in 11 of their 19 games. A handful of players have been solid: Freddy Galvis (.361/.409/.459, 8 RBI), Cody Asche (.305/.349/.441, 2 HR), and Odubel Herrera (.273/.324/.409, team-leading 8 R) the most consistent. Ryan Howard, a Saint Louis native, has homered in each of the last two games, and has begun to hit the ball consistently hard.

The series will take place at the new Busch Stadium, which is very similar to Citizens Bank in it’s dimensions. CBP is 329, 401, and 330 in left, center, and right field while Busch Stadium runs 336, 400, and 335 feet to those points.


PITCHING MATCHUPS:

Game 1: Cole Hamels (0-2, 3.75 ERA) v. John Lackey (1-0, 4.34 ERA) – Hamels pitched a good game his most recent start (6 IP, 0 ER, 5 H, 5 SO, 3 BB) and now looks keep the momentum going against the Cards. Lackey, however, was not sharp (5.2 IP, 5 ER, 8 H, 4 SO, 1 BB) and is looking to turn things around against the lowly Phillies offense. The Wainwright injury has led to some speculation that Hamels, on the trade market, could become a Cardinals target.

Game 2: Severino Gonzalez (0-0, ERA N/A) v. Michael Wacha (3-0, 1.33 ERA) – Gonzalez will be called up to make his Major League debut in place of the injured Sean O’Sullivan. In three starts with the AAA Lehigh Valley IronPigs, Gonzalez has a 1-1 record and 3.57 ERA. He is just trying to make a solid impression in what is likely a one-shot deal for now. Wacha, on the other hand, is showing that he belongs after besting Johnny Cueto twice and most recently Nationals’ ace, Max Scherzer, in his last start (7 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 6 SO, 2 BB). On Wacha’s impressive play against league-wide aces, Matheny stated, “He was great… I think he’s doing a nice job of not being distracted by who he’s facing.

Game 3: Aaron Harang (2-1, 1.37 ERA) v. Carlos Martinez (2-0, 1.35 ERA) – Harang absolutely dealt his last time out (8 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 6 SO, 1 BB) and would love to keep pitching like the ace of the staff against a very strong Cardinals squad. Martinez, also very strong this season, would like to keep rolling after a great start (7 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 8 SO, 2 BB) against the Brewers. Matheny offered praise for Martinez after such a brilliant performance, “He had a very live fastball today and I thought he used his other stuff effectively, but his fastball was the story.” http://espn.go.com/mlb/recap?gameId=350424108

Game 4: David Buchanan (0-4, 7.52 ERA) v. TBD (possibly Carlos Villanueva) – Buchanan put up his best start of the season (6.2 IP, 3 ER, 2 H, 3 SO, 3 BB) and is hopeful that it will lead to even better ones the next couple weeks. The Cardinals have yet to name a starter in Wainwright’s absence so Buchanan’s opponent is still TBD. Villanueva is the most likely option for at least this one start among pitchers on the current major league 25-man roster, though Tim Cooney or Tyler Lyons could also go.


SERIES KEYS:

Win Hamels’ matchup: If the Phils want to win the series, they’ll need to take the first game with their ace on the bump. This matchup is the most favorable for the Phillies because Lackey has been very lackluster this to this point, and Hamels is coming off his best start of the year. The Phils lefty ace traditionally starts slow, and may be ready to get rolling now. He must come into this game ready to dominate.

Howard Returns Home: Ryan Howard, from St. Louis, is a notorious Cardinal-killer at Busch Stadium because of his .360 average and 1.160 OPS in 30 career games there. The Big Piece heads back to his roots after hitting homeruns in consecutive days. If Howard keeps his stroke in St. Louis as he normally does, then there’s no telling how he can affect a lineup desperate for some punch.


BROADCAST INFORMATION:

Game 1 (Monday)- 8:15 PM, TV: CSN, Radio: 1210FM, 94AM, 1480AM (Spanish Language)

Game 2 (Tuesday)- 8:15 PM, TV: CSN, Radio: 1210FM, 94AM, 1480AM (Spanish Language)

Game 3 (Wednesday)- 8:15 PM, TV: CSN, ESPN, Radio: 1210FM, 94AM, 1480AM (Spanish Language)

Game 4 (Thursday)- 1:45 PM, TV: CSN, MLBN, Radio: 1210FM, 94AM, 1480AM (Spanish Language)


NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE FORECAST for Busch Stadium area this week

Today

Mostly sunny, with a high near 67. North wind 8 to 13 mph.

Tonight

Partly cloudy, with a low around 43. Northeast wind 5 to 9 mph.

Tuesday

Mostly sunny, with a high near 66. Northeast wind 6 to 9 mph.

Tuesday Night

Partly cloudy, with a low around 47. North wind 5 to 7 mph.

Wednesday

Mostly sunny, with a high near 68. North wind 5 to 10 mph.

Wednesday Night

Partly cloudy, with a low around 49.

Thursday

Sunny, with a high near 68.

Thursday Night

Mostly clear, with a low around 47.


INJURIES

CARDINALSDateStatusDue BackInjuryNotes
Garcia, Jaime (P)04/2515-day DLPossibly late MayLeft shoulder inflammationThrew 44-pitch simulated game April 25; scheduled to throw side session April 27.
Grichuk, Randal (CF)04/2015-day DLPossibly early MayLower back strainPlaced on 15-day DL on April 19 retroactive to April 17.
Heyward, Jason (RF)04/26Any dayTBDLeft groin tightnessExited game early April 26.
Molina, Yadier (C)04/26Any dayDay-to-dayRight knee sorenessNot in starting lineup April 25-26; available to pinch-hit as of April 26 update.
Pham, Thomas (LF)04/2015-day DLTBDLeft quad strainCleared to resume baseball activities April 16.
Wainwright, Adam (P)04/2615-day DLTBDLeft AchillesPlaced on 15-day DL on April 26; scheduled to undergo MRI on April 27.

PHILLIESDateStatusDue BackInjuryNotes
Billingsley, Chad (P)04/2115-day DLPossibly early MayRecovering from June 2014 elbow surgerySent on Triple-A rehab assignment April 10; missed April 20 rehab start due to illness.
Brown, Domonic (LF)04/2215-day DLPossibly April 28Left Achilles tendinitisSent on Triple-A rehab assignment April 17.
Hollands, Mario (P)04/20Out for Season2016Recovering from April 2015 Tommy John surgeryUnderwent Tommy John surgery April 8.
Lee, Cliff (P)04/0560-day DLPossibly 2015Left common flexor tendon tearShut down from throwing, placed on 60-day DL on March 16.
O’Sullivan, Sean (P)04/2215-day DLTBDLeft knee tendinitisPlaced on 15-day DL on April 22 retroactive to April 18.
Pettibone, Jonathan (P)04/0515-day DLTBDRecovering from June 2014 right elbow surgeryPlaced on 15-day DL on April 5 retroactive to March 27.
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