Tonight: Phils vs. Manny-less Dodgers

OK, so some of the steam has been taken out of this series because Manny Ramirez got caught with his hand in the cookie (hcG needle) jar. But still, it is the Phillies and the Dodgers.

larry_andersen.jpg
Oh, to hear the 80’s chants of “Beat L.A., Beat L.A.” again. No, not Larry Andersen for you 20-something’s out there. Although, there are still some Red Sox that would like to after the Andersen for Jeff Bagwell trade.
No, for those that don’t remember, that chant started in the old Boston Garden when the Celtics and Lakers staged those great NBA Finals with Larry Bird and Magic Johnson producing some of the best basketball ever.
As for tonight, the Phillies will look to see if their off-day on Monday will somehow get the top of the offense going. Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino and Chase Utley were a combined 0-for-13 in Sunday loss to Atlanta. Victorino was 0-for-13 in the series after his 16-game hit streak. And Rollins has seen his batting average dip again below that vaunted Mendoza line (.195).
The Philies send out ex-Dodger Chan Ho Park against his former teammates. Park may have saved his rotation spot with six innings of shutout ball against the Mets and Johan Santana the last time out. And with the struggles of the rotation, each start is an important one (with J.A. Happ waiting in the wings).
The Dodgers counter with young lefty Clayton Kershaw (1-2, 4.91). The southpaw is 0-1, 8.10 ERA against the Phillies in his brief career in the Majors. But the encouraging thing for Phils fans are his Home/Road splits…

Home– 14 games, 2.82 ERA (25 ER/ 79.2 IP)
Road– 14 games, 6.49 ERA (44 ER/ 61.0 IP)

As for their offense, losing Manny in the middle of the lineup changes things quite a bit. But the Dodgers stats still say they are a threat…
On-Base %- .374 (#1 in Majors)
Walks- 156 (#1 in Majors)
Runs Scored- 184 (#1 in National League)
Batting Average- .285 (#2 in N.L.)
Guys like Andre Ethier, James Loney, Matt Kemp, Russell Martin and their big off-season addition in Orlando Hudson make this (without Manny) a very potent lineup.
The difference is you don’t have the “big bully” in the middle of the lineup to give adequate protection. It is a big change, but we will get to see first hand how much.
BTW…
I wonder if we will see the return of the “Wolf Pack” in some version tomorrow when former Phillie Randy Wolf takes the mound. The Wolf Pack started a string of quirky fan groups a few years ago. Could be interesting.
And On Thursday…

What a pitching matchup between Chad Billingsley, who the Phils pounded in the 2008 NLCS, but has been pitching great this year against Cole Hamels, who is coming off his first win of the season in his last start.
Prediction…

Phils win 2 of 3.

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