Phillies-Blue Jays: 5 things you need to know

Phillies-Blue Jays: 5 things you need to know
May 7, 2014, 2:00 pm
Share This Post

The Phillies are back under .500 after losing both games of the first half of a home-and-home series with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Now the series shifts to Rogers Centre, a hitter's haven where the Blue Jays have slugged .480, the highest percentage of any home team outside of Coors Field.

Here are five things you need to know about Wednesday's game (7:07 p.m./CSN):

Stop the skid
The Phillies turn to Cliff Lee (3-2, 3.00) in hopes of ending a two-game losing streak to the Blue Jays.

But despite the roll Lee is on (1.50 ERA last four starts), this could be a troublesome outing for him. The ball flies out of Rogers Centre and Lee can attest to that, having allowed nine home runs there in just 42 2/3 innings.

But the Jays' power hitters haven't really solved Lee. Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion are a combined 5 for 25 (.200) with two homers. Current Blue Jays have hit .241 against him with a .261 on-base percentage.

Blink and you'll miss it
With Lee on the mound opposing Mark Buehrle, this could be a lightning-quick game.

Lee and Buehrle are two notoriously speedy workers. They pound the strike zone and take little time in between pitches. Buehrle has taken 16.0 seconds in between pitches this season and 16.9 seconds between pitches since 2010. Both figures are fastest in the majors.

The book on Buehrle
So, did Buehrle (5-1, 2.25) and Tim Hudson (4-1, 2.17) get together this offseason and build a time machine?

Buehrle, 35, leads the AL with five wins and has shaved one full hit per inning off last year's rate of 9.9 per nine innings.

Buehrle's made eight career starts against the Phillies, but the three from 2002-04 are meaningless in regard to tonight's game.

In 2012, Buehrle faced the Phillies five times as a Marlin and went 2-2 with a 3.24 ERA. In 33 1/3 innings, he struck out 22 and walked two.

Buehrle's repertoire is what it's always been: a four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball and cutter (all in the low-80s), a curveball and changeup. Historically, the cutter has been his best pitch.

Asche will play
Cody Asche was already hot before his 4-for-4, four-RBI night Tuesday. Over his last eight games he's hit 9 for 22 (.409) with three doubles, two home runs and eight RBIs. His batting average has risen from .192 to .257 and his OPS from .551 to .767.

Asche has not started against a left-handed pitcher since April 4, but how is he ever supposed to grow as an everyday third baseman if he doesn't face same-handed pitching?

Plus, it's not as if Jayson Nix is the type of hitter vs. lefties that Kevin Frandsen was. Frandsen has hit .344 against lefties since 2012. Nix this year is 2 for 22 with 10 strikeouts against southpaws.

But Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg has Asche in his starting lineup for Wednesday's game. Asche will handle duties at the hot corner and bat eighth (see full lineup).

Byrd breaking out
It was a relatively silent surge made by Marlon Byrd until these last few games. Byrd over his last 13 contests has hit .367/.392/.633 with five doubles, a triple, two homers and 12 RBIs.

And against Buehrle, a lefty starter, that streak could continue. Byrd has lived up to his lefty-killer reputation so far this season, batting .345 with a .992 OPS against them.

He's all the way up to .303 overall on the season.

Looking for Phillies tickets? Buy them through the Wanamaker Entertainment Group.