Red Sox-Phillies: A Series Preview

Red Sox-Phillies: A Series Preview
June 28, 2011, 9:05 am

It's nice that we can have ourselves a Boston-Philadelphia series these
days without the primary storyline having anything to do with the city
of New York. In 2011, the Phillies and Red Sox are good enough and
established enough in their own right that there's no second-city
inferiority complex necessary—these teams have more than enough positive
recent history now, and they're building a nice little rivalry of their
own. And this time, the two will meet as arguably the two best teams in
baseball, in a series that will see the phrase "World Series Preview"
mentioned more than once
.

Sox-Phils has made for some great interleague action the last few
years, though unfortunately for us, most of it has ended up favoring
Boston. Last year alone, there was Daisuke's no-hitter through seven,
Daniel Nava's grand slam in his first-ever at bat, and a combined 22-4
Boston beatdown of Philly over the course of two games. Boston won four
of six in that season and 11 of 15 total since they started visiting
Citizens' Bank Park. "I think we’ve had a hard time beating them
in the past, the last five or six years I’ve been here," Charlie
recently reminisced. "It would be nice
to win
a series. We need to come out Tuesday and make sure we play good against
them." 

Yeah, it would be nice. The Phils are 5-4 in
interleague play this year—a respectable record, but hardly the
authoritative beatdown that the NL's best and brightest should be
providing of the hated AL, especially considering the team has been
facing off against the weak squads of the AL West. A series win against
the Red Sox, something the Fightins just haven't been able to secure
even in their contending years against the Beantowners, would be huge
for the guys, proving they can hang with the big guns of the AL and all
but ensuring them a winning interleague record.

As is almost always the case at this time in the season, neither
team will be arriving at the showdown with their arsenal fully stocked.
The Phillies are still down two starters and two closers, and with Roy
Halladay pitching on Sunday night against Oakland, the Sox will be
getting a reprieve from facing off against their old friend from
Toronto. Meanwhile, the Sox are missing two big guns from their starting
lineup—big off-season acquisition Carl Crawford, who had finally
started showing signs of being the player the Sox thought they purchased
for $142 mil in December but is now out with a hamstring injury, and
David Ortiz, on pace for one of the best seasons of his career, but
relegated to pinch-hitting duties in this series due to the DH being
unavailable in interleague play. Still, there should be plenty of star
power to go around between the two teams, as evidenced by the marquee
matchup of tonight's series opener: Cliff Lee vs. Josh Beckett, two of
the hottest starters in baseball right now.

The eyes of the baseball world will be on Philly this week for what
is in all likelihood the most highly anticipated interleague series of
the 2011 season. Maybe it's a playoff preview and maybe (probably) it
isn't, but as far as regular-season action goes, you're not gonna get
much more exciting than this. Soak it all in these next three days—and
if you happen to head down to the ballpark, be sure to say hi to JD Drew
and Terry Francona for us.

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