Phillies-Reds: What you need to know

Phillies-Reds: What you need to know

April 17, 2013, 1:45 pm
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Phillies (6-7) at Reds (6-7)
5:30 p.m. – TCN
7:10 p.m. – TCN

If they execute, the Phillies can pick up two wins in about five hours and go over .500 for the first time this season. If things go poorly, they could drop to three games under .500 for the first time this season.

When Tuesday’s suspended scoreless game picks up, it will be in the bottom of the ninth inning with Zack Cozart, Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips due up against Phillippe Aumont. Because Aumont was announced prior to the rain delay, he must be on the mound when the game resumes.

Weather watch

It will be a bit warmer tonight in Cincinnati with a 30 percent chance of precipitation all night.

Will someone get on base?

The Phils wasted perhaps the best outing of Kyle Kendrick’s career on Tuesday night, putting just two runners on base. Their team on-base percentage dropped to an abysmal .291, and they’ve now scored in just seven of their last 53 innings.

Much has been made lately of the Phillies’ inability to score early in games. But they’ve been far, far worse in innings 4-9, batting .184/.241/.297. Not sure how that’s even possible, but at least it can’t get worse.

The lack of production starts at the top with Ben Revere, whose OBP is 97 points lower than the National League average for leadoff batters (see story).

The Phillies need to walk more, plain and simple. They are a free-swinging team that just doesn’t make pitchers work or pose a threat when guys are slumping. At some point, the offensive philosophy has to change, because we’re in the sixth straight year of a declining team OBP.

How bad is it? Votto has more walks (21) than Revere, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Domonic Brown, Laynce Nix and Erik Kratz combined.

Rare performances

Last night was the first time Kendrick ever pitched seven scoreless innings while allowing two hits or fewer.

And Homer Bailey became just the fifth pitcher in the history of baseball to allow two or fewer hits, no runs and strike out 10 batters in fewer than 90 pitches. The last guy to do it was David Cone in his 1999 perfect game. Jim Bunning also did it in his 1964 perfecto.

Game 2: Lannan vs. Leake

Kendrick and John Lannan have been bright spots for the Phillies. Kendrick induced 14 ground balls Tuesday night to boost his season rate to over 50 percent, and Lannan leads MLB with a 71.1 percent groundball rate.

This is exactly what Kendrick and Lannan need to do, and it is very encouraging to see them start their seasons by inducing weak contact. Neither is a strikeout pitcher, so both need to live on the ground.

Lannan (0-0, 2.77) hasn’t seen the Reds much in his career, but when he has he’s been hit around by the middle of their order. Votto and Phillips are a combined 7 for 14 off him, though all seven hits were singles. Jay Bruce is 0 for 5.

Mike Leake (0-0, 6.75) has been Jeremy Hefner-bad against the Phillies. In five starts, he’s 0-3 with a 9.33 ERA, a .339 opponents’ batting average and eight home runs allowed in 27 innings.

It could be a big night for Howard, who flew out to the warning track in left field Tuesday night. Howard is 6 for 12 off Leake with a pair of homers.

Kratz is 3 for 3 off Leake with two homers and John Mayberry and Brown are a combined 5 for 9 with two doubles.

Leake throws five pitches: fastball, cutter, slider, curveball, changeup. Nothing is harder than about 90 mph, and the only pitch batters have hit below .282 against is his slider.

It’s still early, but ...

The Phillies are six games behind the Braves, who are playing today against the Royals.

It’s been 11 years since a team that was six games out of first place through its first 13 made the playoffs. Obviously, the two wild-card format changes things, but still a note to keep in mind. Teams that dig themselves deep, early holes don’t often claw their way out.

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