Lip service from the Phillies — from Ruben Amaro down to the ushers — has focused on how this team will have a dramatic turnaround in the second half of the 2012 season. Quite frankly, short of a Moneyball turnaround that saw the Oakland As win 20 straight games in 2002, the playoffs are out of site.
Still, getting this team back on track will help it regain its swag that propelled this group to five straight NL East titles. After taking 2-of-3 from the Rockies this weekend, the Phillies find themselves just four games out of fourth place. That may not sound like a big feat, but every bit counts and getting out of the cellar would be a start.
The Phillies now find themselves headed to Los Angeles where they face a re-energized Dodgers squad that has taken the league by storm. Coming out with a series win is key and the Phils have a shot. It comes down to pitching.
Joe Blanton, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee need to find a way to get two wins. Doc makes his return to the rotation on Tuesday, while the Dodgers placed their ace Chad Billingsly on the DL. Doc isn’t losing his first game back. No way. No how.
Blanton has been the model of inconsistency this year. With a 7-8 record and 4.98 ERA, Blanton is far from a guaranteed win. However, the Dodgers throw Nathan Eovaldi who is 1-5 with a 4.21 ERA. Eovaldi has been torched in two of his last three starts. On June 25, he was rocked for eight runs on 10 hits in just five innings. He followed that up with five runs on seven hits in 5.1 innings on June 30.
The Phillies have a shot if Blanton can be solid.
In the series finale, Lee takes his 1-6 record into battle against Clayton Kershaw who is 7-5. Kershaw has given up three or more earned runs in five of his last 10 games. Still, this matchup is very even, but Lee must find a way to avoid the big inning.
Win two of three from LA, Phils, and maybe we’ll start to believe the lip service about improving.