The Phillies were unable to pull off a sweep against the Rockies, but they still won two games out of three. I guess it's good enough, but now the real task is at hand. The Phillies are opening up a weekend series with the Tampa Rays this evening. The Rays (38-31) sit 3 1/2 games back in the AL East while the Phillies (33-38) still sit nine games back in their division. Given that the Rays are in one of the toughest divisions in baseball, they are still a great team. They're pitching is top notch and it's going to take great pitching on our part to keep it close. This is the first time these teams have met in Philly since the 2008 World Series.
Tonight Cliff Lee (0-3, 3.48 ERA) will make his twelfth start of the season all while seeking for his first win of the season. Lee has come up short this season a lot of times. Sometimes it's been the lack of run support, but as of late Lee has had a considerable amount of run support and he has blown all of the leads that he's been given. In his last start, against Toronto on Saturday, Lee was given a 4-2 lead late into the game. In the top of the 8th, Lee surrendered three runs (two on account of a Jimmy Rollins throwing error) and another on a double. All in all, Cliff Lee left the game after seven innings. Lee allowed 12 hits, five earned runs while walking one and striking out three Blue Jays to receive the no-decision. In his career, Lee is 6-5 with a 2.87 ERA against the Rays.
Cliff Lee has not faced the Rays since the 2010 ALDS when he was with the Texas Rangers.
On the hill for the Rays will be righty James Shields (7-4, 3.72 ERA). Shields will make his fifteenth start of the season tonight. Shields is coming off of a solid outing against the Marlins. On Saturday, Shields tossed 7 2/3 innings, allowing 3 unearned runs on 8 hits and striking out five. Shields received the no-decision, however. In his career, Shields is 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA against the Phillies.
Is it me or has Jimmy Rollins been playing a lot better as of late? He's showing tremendous hustle in the field and on the basepaths and he's actually hitting the ball in the lead off position. Not to mention his lead off home run last night, he's hitting .363 (4-for-11) in his last three games with a home run, two RBI and two walks. Without Chase Utley, the Phillies need a leader on the field and Jimmy Rollins is that leader. Hopefully he can keep the good play up and hopefully it will turn around the whole team.
Tonight's lineup vs Tampa:
1. Jimmy Rollins, SS
2. Juan Pierre, LF
3. Hunter Pence, RF
4. Carlos Ruiz, C
5. Ty Wigginton, 1B
6. Placido Polanco, 3B
7. John Mayberry, Jr., CF
8. Michael Martinez, 2B
9. Cliff Lee, P
TV: CSN ; Radio: 1210 WPHT, 94 WIP
Erik Seybold is a Contributor for Philliedelphia. Follow Erik on Twitter @ErikSeyboldPHI.