Phillies (38-41) at Dodgers (35-42)
10:10 p.m. – CSN
Late life from the Phillies’ offense Wednesday night in San Diego prevented their first series loss at PETCO Park in seven years, and helped them open their 10-game homestand with a 2-1 record. As frustrating as Monday’s loss was, the two-run shot by Delmon Young, scoreless effort from the bullpen and hustle in the 13th inning in many ways made up for it.
Now the Phillies open a four-game series at Dodger Stadium against a team that has fallen well short of expectations. L.A. entered the season with a $217 million payroll, and yet only four NL teams have a worse record. The Dodgers have lingered in last place in the NL West for several weeks.
Dodgers getting healthy
Hanley Ramirez has missed 55 games this season with hamstring injuries, but he returned for good in mid-June, and over his last 11 games he’s 17 for 39 (.436) with four homers, 11 RBIs, two doubles and nine runs. The Dodgers are 7-4 in those games.
Centerfielder Matt Kemp, who hasn’t been able to stay on the field consistently for just about a year because of his own hamstring issues, is also back. He played a full game Tuesday and entered as a defensive replacement Wednesday.
Kemp hit .324 and led the NL in runs, homers and RBIs in 2011, but was snubbed in MVP voting. He followed that up by batting .355 with 12 homers by May 30 of last season, but kept aggravating his hamstring and missed 56 games as a result.
He hasn’t been anything close to his old self this season, batting .251/.304/.333 with just two homers in 214 plate appearances.
The Dodgers still aren’t completely healthy, though. Starting leftfielder Carl Crawford hasn’t played since June 1 because of – surprise, surprise – a hamstring injury.
Pettibone’s last start?
After allowing 15 runs in 19 1/3 innings in his four previous starts, Jon Pettibone (3-3, 4.14) rebounded last Saturday to pitch six innings of one-run ball against the Mets. He may need another solid outing to keep his rotation spot, because the Phillies are four days away from having to make a decision on Carlos Zambrano. Big Z can opt out of his deal if he isn’t promoted to the majors by July 1.
Ruben Amaro Jr. hasn’t been too high on Zambrano -- “If we thought he could help us he’d already be here,” Amaro said Monday night – but it’s still hard to imagine the Phillies not giving him any chance whatsoever (see story). In six minor-league starts with the Phils, Zambrano is 3-0 with a 1.89 ERA. He’s struck out 29 and walked 16 in 33 1/3 innings, while allowing just one home run.
Pettibone has struggled on the road. He has a 6.84 ERA and .356 opponents’ batting average away from Citizens Bank Park.
Rare meeting with Greinke
Zack Greinke has made 59 starts in the National League since 2011 but only faced the Phillies once, in July 2012, when he allowed one run to them on three hits over seven innings. His only other start vs. the Phils came in 2004 when he was a Kansas City Royal.
Greinke, who this offseason edged Cole Hamels by signing a six-year, $147 million deal in L.A., has made just 10 starts this season. He missed just over four weeks with a broken collarbone, but did return ahead of schedule. He’s 4-2 with a 3.79 ERA, but his averages of hits allowed and strikeouts are the worst they’ve been since 2005.
But he’s making good use of Dodger Stadium, a pitcher’s park. In five starts there this season, Greinke is 3-0 with a 2.12 ERA and 0.98 WHIP. On the road, his ERA is 5.60 and his WHIP is 1.65.
Greinke throws a four-seam and two-seam fastball in the 91-94 mph range, a cutter in the high-80s, a mid-80s changeup, a low-80s slider and a low-70s curve. The opposition is 4 for 36 (.111) this year off his curve and is hitting .217 against his cutter. The sinker, slider and changeup have been hit around, though, to the tune of a .359 BA.
Current Phils have hit .246 off Greinke, with Delmon Young’s homer being their only one in 114 at-bats. Ben Revere is the only Phillie who has had a bit of success against him – he’s 4 for 10 with a double.
The Phillies were 8-2 against the Dodgers in the 2008 and 2009 NLCS, and of course ended the 2008 Championship Series there thanks to clutch two-run homers by Shane Victorino and Matt Stairs.
Since 2007, though, the Phils are 20-20 against the Dodgers – 10-10 in Philly, 10-10 in L.A.
Back on track
After a 2½-week slump, Dom Brown is 8 for 24 over his last six games with six runs, four doubles, a homer and five RBIs.
Chase Utley has hit in five straight, going 6 for 21 with five runs and two walks.
And Carlos Ruiz finally appears to be getting going. Since returning on June 18, Chooch is 9 for 26 with a walk and two RBIs.
When everyone in the Phillies’ lineup is healthy, it is quite deep and there is less pressure on individuals like Brown or Ryan Howard to carry the offense. In recent days we’ve seen guys pick each other up at the plate. That hasn’t happened enough in 2013.