Phillies-Red Sox: What you need to know

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Phillies-Red Sox: What you need to know

Phillies (20-19) vs Boston Red Sox (18-20)7:05 p.m. on CSN

Who thought that when the Phillies and Red Sox met in mid-May that both teams would be in last place?

The Phillies return home to face the Red Sox in their semi-annual interleague rivalry series over .500 for the first time since Opening Day. Winners of five straight, the Phils have a tough six-game homestand ahead.

After facing Daniel Bard Friday, theyll take on five consecutive tough hurlers in Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann and Edwin Jackson.

Starting pitchers
Cole Hamels (5-1, 2.28) will make his eighth start in what has been a stellar 2012 campaign. Hamels is second in the National League in WHIP, second in strikeout-to-walk ratio and third in swinging strike percentage.

Hamels is riding a stretch of six consecutive quality starts. Hes surrendered one run in three of those outings and two runs in the remaining three.

Hes completely handcuffed the Red Sox in four starts, going 3-0 with a 1.44 ERA. Boston has hit just .191 off Hamels, though 11 of their 17 hits have gone for extra bases.

A few Red Sox have proven troublesome for Hamels. Dustin Pedroia is 5 for 12, Adrian Gonzalez is a .333 hitter in 24 at-bats with a pair of homers and new Red Sox outfielder Cody (expletive) Ross has four homers off Hamels in 35 at-bats.

Hamels is opposed by Bard, who just this year transitioned from late-inning reliever to starting pitcher. Bard is 3-4 with a 4.30 ERA in seven appearances (six starts), and has an ugly ratio of strikeouts (23) to walks (20).

Bard has struggled as he has gone deeper into games. The opposition has a .361 batting average off Bard after his 45th pitch.

Head-to-head
Boston owns a 29-17 advantage in the 46-game series. The Phillies and Red Sox have met every since 1997, with the exception of 2002 and 2007.

The Phils have won three of the last four meetings dating back to a Hamels Sunday afternoon gem in June 2010.

Whos hot
Carlos. Ruiz.

Chooch has a .363 batting average, fourth-best in the majors. He went 4 for 5 on Thursday with a double and three RBI. Hes been nothing short of spectacular at the plate this season, and the context of the game hasnt mattered. Hes a .407 hitter off lefties and a .321 hitter against righties. At home, hes at .320; on the road, .362. He hit .313 in April and is batting .386 in May. During the day, .333; at night, .346.

Whos not
Its odd to see that Shane Victorino has a .325 batting average with runners in scoring position because he hasnt come through in such opportunities lately. Over the last four games, Victorino is 1 for 14 and has stranded 14 baserunners.

Key matchup
Hamels vs. the ever-disciplined Pedroia. When Pedroia reaches base more than once in a game, the Red Sox average 6.4 runs. When he reaches one or no times, Boston scores 4.2

Sound off
Do you still enjoy interleague play?

E-mail Corey Seidman at cseidman@comcastsportsnet.com

A.J. Ellis still adjusting, learning names as he joins the Phillies

A.J. Ellis still adjusting, learning names as he joins the Phillies

NEW YORK – It wasn’t easy leaving the only professional organization he’d ever been part of, but new Phillie A.J. Ellis, acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Carlos Ruiz trade Thursday, is coming to terms with it.

“To find out that the trade went down, it was hard,” Ellis said upon reporting to his new club Saturday. “It was so immediate and sudden, really hard to say goodbye to a lot of relationships I had been blessed to forge for more than a decade.

“But the waves of emotion are getting farther and farther apart, which is a good thing.”

Ellis, 35, was drafted by the Dodgers in 2003 and rose to the majors with them in 2008. With the Phillies, he will serve a similar role to the one he played with the Dodgers – backup catcher. Ellis wasted no time getting to know the pitching staff he will now work with. He arrived at Citi Field early Saturday afternoon and caught Jake Thompson and Jerad Eickhoff in their between-starts bullpen sessions.

Ellis said “Eichorn” when referring to Eickhoff. He’s forgiven. It’s been a whirlwind week.

“See?” he said. “I’m still learning names.”

Ellis, who served as the personal catcher for Dodgers’ ace Clayton Kershaw, was blindsided by the trade.

“When I was summoned to the ballpark, that’s never really a good thing, especially when the front office wants to meet with you as far as where you’re at with the club, you know some kind of transition is happening,” he said. “The first 12 hours were definitely the hardest.

“But to arrive here and arrive in the clubhouse, meeting the staff, I’m starting to feel re-energized, refilled with a sense of purpose as to why I’ve been placed here, and why this is where I need to be at this time. I’m excited about that.

"I know I have huge shoes to fill. Carlos Ruiz is such a fixture in the Phillies organization. The work that he’s done here behind the plate, you can’t fill. This guy is a world champion catcher who has been back there for so many great baseball memories. So it’s up to me to do my part to fill the void.”

Manager Pete Mackanin thought about putting Ellis in the lineup Saturday night then had some mercy when he figured facing hard-throwing Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard might not be the best indoctrination for a guy who just flew cross-country. Ellis is likely to start Sunday afternoon’s series finale and catch Vince Velasquez.

That doesn’t mean he wasn’t asked to make a contribution to Saturday night’s game. Mackanin said he wanted Ellis to speak with the Phillies hitters about the weaknesses the Dodger pitchers tried to exploit.

“We talk to them about this stuff all the time, but it might help to hear it from an outside source,” Mackanin said.

Ellis left a first-place club for a rebuilding team. That’s not easy. He has come to terms with that. He likes the young talent on the Phillies’ roster and hopes to help it come to flower.

“Guys are playing for their careers,” he said. “Guys are playing to make their mark in this game and create a winning franchise once again in Philadelphia. 

"You see the talent, you see their desire to learn, their desire to get better. You just know the youth on this staff, the talent level on this staff. And if I can in some short time here impact some wisdom on those guys, share some of the wisdom along the way that I’ve picked up from some great mentors I’ve had in my time in the game, I need to pay it back, from what all has been given to me.”

Ellis hit just .197 with a .285 on-base percentage in 53 games for the Dodgers this season. That’s one of the reasons the Dodgers acquired Ruiz – to get more production from their right-handed-hitting backup catcher. Ruiz had a .369 on-base percentage at the time of the trade.

Phillies’ general manager Matt Klentak was “adamant” that Ellis come back on the deal because he wanted someone who could fill Ruiz’ void on (behind the plate) and off (with clubhouse leadership) the field. Ellis’ time with the Phillies might be short. He will be a free agent at the end of the season and his playing time might be scant as September unfolds. The Phils will probably add prospect Jorge Alfaro to the catching mix sometime during that month. Management seems eager to get a look at him while still getting No. 1 catcher Cameron Rupp the game reps he needs.

Tonight's Lineup: After hitting 6th Friday, Odubel Herrera moves up to 2-hole

Tonight's Lineup: After hitting 6th Friday, Odubel Herrera moves up to 2-hole

After watching his club get smacked around in a 9-4 loss to the Mets on Friday, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin has tinkered with his lineup for Saturday's game at Citi Field.

Odubel Herrera moves up to the two-hole after hitting sixth Friday, while Aaron Altherr goes from second to third and Jimmy Paredes gets the start in left and bats seventh. Ryan Howard starts again at first base and bats fifth.

Herrera, who has been struggling since the All-Star break with a .257 average, has lost his leadoff spot to Cesar Hernandez but is starting to find his swing again.

In the last seven days, Herrera is 5 for 17 with a double and a run scored. In August, the centerfielder is hitting .288 with two homers and five RBIs.

Altherr, who played left field Friday, moves over to right field and Peter Bourjos gets the night off. Altherr is hitting .255 with four home runs and 19 RBIs on the season.

Here is the full Phillies lineup:

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Odubel Herrera, CF
3. Aaron Altherr, RF
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Ryan Howard, 1B
6. Cameron Rupp, C
7. Jimmy Paredes, LF
8. Freddy Galvis, SS
9. Jeremy Hellickson, P

For more on tonight's's game, check out Steven Tydings' game notes.