Interleague play, Red Sox have troubled Phillies

Interleague play, Red Sox have troubled Phillies

May 27, 2013, 4:00 pm

The Phillies shouldn't be looking forward to these first two games at Fenway Park.

Sure, Ryan Howard or Delmon Young will have a chance to stay off the field for a day to serve as designated hitter — there are more than just two Phillies who could use a couple days off from fielding — and yes, the Phillies caught a break when Clay Buchholz (7-0, 1.73 ERA) was scratched from his Monday start and replaced by Alfredo Aceves (1-1, 8.20).

But interleague play almost always spells trouble for the Phillies. Especially against the Red Sox. Especially in Boston.

Under the previous format, the end of May and majority of June was when most of the interleague games took place. It's no coincidence that's when the Phillies always seemed to go into a swoon. They're 36-52 (.409) against American League clubs since 2008 and 453-319 (.587) against NL teams in that same span.

Interleague games are now spread out over the course of the season with the new 15-team league format, but the Phillies' interleague fortunes haven't changed -- they're 2-5 against the Royals and Indians.

The Phils are 9-21 against Boston since 2004 with just one series win (2011 at home). In their last 12 games at Fenway Park, they're 3-9 and have been outscored 84-45.

Interleague play holds a distinct advantage for American League clubs, especially in American League parks, where the ALers can employ their regularly starting DHs. It's no surprise the AL has taken the majority of games from its NL opponents every season since 2004.

More than any other team, the Red Sox have relished interleague play thanks largely to David Ortiz, their everyday designated hitter for the past decade.

Boston has posted a winning record against National League teams every year since 2005 and boast a 96-48 (.667) mark over that span.

Ortiz is a career .289/.384/.558 hitter as a DH versus .278/.361/.510 when he occasionally plays the field in NL parks.

Howard has only served as DH nine times in his career but has struggled, batting .222/.300/.444 as opposed to his .270/.360/.543 slash line as a first baseman. Delmon Young, who will DH in the series opener Monday, has posted significantly better lifetime numbers as a fielder (.285/.319/.427) vs. as DH (.269/.298/.408).

Monday night's game will be the Red Sox first interleague contest of the season. Only Boston, Oakland and St. Louis went the first eight weeks of the season without once playing a team from the other league.

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