Phillies-Giants: What you need to know

Phillies-Giants: What you need to know

May 6, 2013, 4:00 pm
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Phillies (14-18) at Giants (19-12)
10:15 p.m. – CSN

Unless the Phillies regroup on the road and have a successful week in San Francisco and Arizona, the results of the last two weeks will likely come back to bite them. The Phils lost two in a row to the Marlins over the weekend, and since April 23 they’re 5-7 against the Pirates, Mets, Indians and Marlins.

Five of those losses came at home. Four were games started by Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels.

The upcoming week for the Phils is daunting. The Giants have won six in a row, an elite bullpen and their ace on the hill Monday night.

House of horrors

The Phillies are 18-27 all-time at AT&T Park. They lost 12 of the first 15 games they played there, and have won just four of 14 series.

San Francisco is a tough place to play. AT&T is a pitcher’s park that the Phillies’ bats have never been able to solve. They’ve scored two runs or fewer in 10 of their last 16 games in San Fran, including the 2010 NLCS.

It’s pretty much the worst place to have to play after going 5 for 58 in losses Saturday and Sunday.

Stagnant offense

Ruben Amaro said Sunday that the offense just isn’t “good enough” right now. Quite the understatement.

The Phillies are 26th in runs scored, and 17 of the teams ahead of them have played fewer games.

They’re 25th in batting average, 27th in on-base percentage, 27th in slugging percentage and 28th in OPS. They’re 23rd in home runs and 20th in doubles. They’re 26th in walks and have been caught stealing more often than 20 teams. Only one NL team has grounded into more double plays.

Things can’t possibly stay this bad for much longer, but right now this is an offense that does nothing consistently, and more importantly, nothing better than average. They don’t have above-average power or on-base skills, and they aren’t hitting or walking enough to utilize the speed of Jimmy Rollins, Ben Revere or Chase Utley.

Battle of lefties

Runs figure to be hard to come by for either team on Monday night. Lee (2-2, 3.46) takes on Madison Bumgarner (3-0, 1.55).

Bumgarner, who enters with a .181 opponents’ batting average, is one of the game’s most underrated pitchers. He’s a bona fide ace, and perhaps he’d garner more attention if he wasn’t in the same rotation as Matt Cain and former two-time NL Cy Young Tim Lincecum.

Since the start of 2011 Bumgarner is 32-24 with a 3.13 ERA in 71 starts. He’s struck out 8.3 batters per nine and walked just 2.1. Over that span, the only other starting pitcher to match those strikeout and walk rates is Lee.

Lee got out to a hot start this season but has struggled in two of his last three starts and fell apart late in the other one. Oddly, Lee’s control has been an issue lately. After walking one or no batters in 20 straight starts, he’s issued multiple free passes in two of his last three.

Giant advantage

It’s in the bullpen, as always. San Francisco’s bullpen ERA is third-best in the game at 2.63. Phillies relievers have a 4.41 ERA.

Like all great ‘pens, the Giants’ success starts at the back with Sergio Romo, who has a 1.72 ERA and 12 saves in 13 opportunities.

Hard throwers Santiago Casilla (2.20 ERA) and Jean Machi (0.90) are racking up the strikeouts. The bullpen magic has even rubbed off on journeyman Chad Gaudin, who has a 1.65 ERA and 18 Ks in 16 innings.

Lefty Javier Lopez isn’t off to a great start, but current Phils are 1 for 26 off him, or 2 for 36 if you include the 2010 NLCS.  

Heart of the order heating up

The Giants’ three most important hitters are all on fire.

Check out these numbers over the last eight games ...

Buster Posey: .333 BA, three doubles, two homers, eight RBIs, 10 walks

Pablo Sandoval: .529 (18 for 34), six RBIs, eight runs

Hunter Pence: .324 BA, four doubles, triple, home run, eight RBIs

Not the best time to be headed out west.