1. When and where
The Phillies (63-77) open a three-game series with the Braves (85-54) Friday night at Citizens Bank Park. The opener is at 7:05 p.m. on CSN.
2. What will September bring?
Cliff Lee (11-6, 3.09) faces the Braves for the third time in as many months.
On July 5, he allowed four runs in 6 1/3 innings but earned a win -- his first when allowing more than three runs since July 30, 2011, and only his fourth ever as a Phillie.
On Aug. 4, he gave up four runs (three earned) to the Braves and lost.
Still, Lee has incredible career numbers against Atlanta. In 13 career starts, he’s 6-5 with a 3.12 ERA. In 83 2/3 innings, he’s struck out 90 and walked just seven, for a 12.86 K/BB ratio. That is the best strikeout-to-walk ratio in major-league history for a starting pitcher against a specific opponent (minimum 13 starts).
Current Braves have four homers off Lee in 242 at-bats. Two came from Dan Uggla.
3. No Minor challenge
Braves lefty Mike Minor (13-5, 3.08) gets the nod Friday. He hasn’t faced the Phillies at all in 2013, but last season went 2-1 with a 3.46 ERA in four starts. He struck out 23, walked four and allowed four home runs.
Ryan Howard did most of the damage, though -- he was 6 for 15 with three bombs. Chase Utley had the only other homer among active Phillies.
Minor’s struggled a bit over his last four starts, posting a 5.16 ERA. Still, he’s lasted at least seven innings in seven of his last nine starts.
4. Hope you took the under
Most sites pegged the Phillies’ over/under win total for the 2013 season at 83.5 or 84.5 games. Made sense -- they went 81-81 last season while missing Howard and Utley for most of the year, without a healthy Roy Halladay and before the signing of Mike Adams.
Of course, everything went wrong again this year. And if you bet on the over, you’d need the Phils to go 22-0 to cover.
Even if you thought the Phillies had a 50-50 chance of winning each of their remaining games (which they don’t), they’d have a 0.0000002 percent chance of winning 22 in a row.
5. Telling run differentials
The Braves have outscored their opponents by an NL-best 133 runs.
The Phillies have been outscored by an NL-worst 120 runs. Only the Astros (minus-193) have been beaten worse. That’s right, the Marlins -- whose most expensive active player is making $2.75 million -- have a better run differential than the Phillies.