The floundering Phillies sure could use a series victory.
After the team's rubber match against the Reds in Cincinnati on Sunday, the Phils come home for six straight games against the Padres (28-34) and Cubs (25-34).
A victory over the Reds would give the Phillies a nice series win and some momentum heading into home games against two beatable teams.
Maybe they pick up steam after Sunday. Beating Cincinnati would certainly help.
Here are five things you need to know for the series finale between the Phils (25-35) and Reds (28-32) at 1:10 p.m. on CSN.
Early bird catches the worm
Scoring first usually bodes well for any team. For the Phillies this season, they’re 16-10 when plating the game’s first run compared to 9-25 when the opponent scores first.
But when an inexperienced pitcher like David Buchanan — making just his fourth major-league start — takes the hill in a hitter’s ballpark, producing early runs can be vital.
In Buchanan’s last two starts, the Phils have not scored a run in his 12 2/3 innings pitched and the right-hander has faltered (0-2, 7.11 ERA). However, in his big-league debut, the Phillies gave Buchanan a 2-0 lead after the first frame and 4-0 advantage following the second, and the 25-year-old threw five innings of two-run, walk-free ball.
After a 2013 in which he totaled career-bests in ERA (3.49), WHIP (1.12), strikeouts (199) and innings pitched (209), while also hurling a no-hitter, Cincinnati's right-handed starter Homer Bailey has taken a bit of a step back in 2014.
Bailey is 6-3, but has a 4.99 ERA and 1.46 WHIP.
The 28-year-old relies on a 95-mph four-seam fastball and slider in the high-80s, but also features a hard sinker (mid-90s), splitter (high-80s) and curveball (low-80s) with a knuckle-curve grip.
Bailey’s had a rough go in the first two innings of starts this season, sporting a 6.38 ERA, which adds to the importance of the Phils striking from the onset.
The Phillies battered Bailey on May 17 for his worst outing of the season (3 2/3 IP, 6 ER).
Put out the power
Among MLB teams this season, the Reds have the fifth-most long balls (34) at home, but also own the fourth-fewest runs (105) and fifth-worst batting average (.239).
If you neutralize Cincinnati's power like Cole Hamels did Friday and unlike Phils pitching Saturday, you’ll have a good chance at beating the Reds, especially with Joey Votto still out of the lineup.
Let’s see the heat
Phillies fans have gotten their wish, as the team on Sunday will call up the man with the 100-mph arm, Ken Giles, who will be available for the series finale.
The highly publicized 23-year-old, who was lighting up radar guns in the minor leagues with triple-digit heat, will take Mike Adams’ (15-day DL, right rotator cuff inflammation) spot in the Phils’ bullpen.
Giles blew away Double A competition before hitting some speed bumps at Triple A (see story). Now, he has big shoes to fill as he could be a linchpin to the Phillies’ bullpen while Adams recovers.
This and that
• Jimmy Rollins needs six more hits (2,229) to pass Mike Schmidt (2,234) in becoming the Phils’ all-time hits leader.
• Marlon Byrd is 7 for 18 (.389) lifetime against Bailey with two homers, two doubles and seven RBIs.
• Lefties are hitting .351 off Bailey this season.
• Phillies pitchers have issued a major-league worst 134 walks in the last 31 games (since May 5).
• Cincinnati has the highest fielding percentage (.988) and fewest errors (26) in the majors.
• Todd Frazier leads the Reds in hitting (.279), home runs (13), RBIs (32), runs (36) and OPS (.869).