Phillies look to finish week strong with series in Florida

Posted by Kevin Durso

Philliedelphia/Kevin Durso

The Phillies and Marlins played last Friday night in what was the opener of a three-game series. The Phillies lost that opener 6-5. The other two games were never played. With Hurricane Irene pushing two of the Phillies' remaining games against the Marlins to September 15th, the Phillies finally get a chance to finish what they start. They close out a week-long road trip with three games against the Marlins this weekend.

The Marlins are still a young team, and have already been officially eliminated from contention in the NL East. They enter the series on a two-game losing streak, and having won just three of their last ten games. Leading the way is Mike Stanton, who is hitting .261 with 31 home runs and 78 RBIs. Add in the likes of Logan Morrison, Gaby Sanchez, and John Buck. Morrison is hitting .244 with 18 homers and 63 RBIs. Sanchez is hitting .269 with 17 homers and 66 RBIs. And Buck is turning in a solid year, hitting just .231, but adding 16 home runs and 52 RBIs. Also, don't forget Bryan Petersen and Greg Dobbs. Petersen is a recent addition to the Marlins, but starting to make a name for himself, hitting .270 with a home run and six RBIs in 48 games. Dobbs had a great game last Friday against the Phils, and is hitting .285 with six home runs and 43 RBIs.

Here are the pitching matchups for the series.

In the opener, Roy Oswalt (6-8, 3.77 ERA) goes against Brad Hand (1-4, 4.08 ERA).

Oswalt lost his last start, when he faced the Marlins last Friday. He allowed six runs in 5 2/3 innings in the Phillies' 6-5 loss. He took a no-decision in the Phillies' April 15th loss to the Marlins, allowing two runs in six innings. In 16 career starts, Oswalt is 6-5 with a 3.96 ERA against the Marlins.

Hand lost his last start, back on August 8th, allowing seven runs over five innings to the Braves. He has never faced the Phillies, and will be making just his ninth Major League start.

In the middle game, Cole Hamels (13-7, 2.58 ERA) takes on Ricky Nolasco (9-10, 4.34 ERA).

Hamels allowed one run in six innings of the Phillies' 3-2 win over the Reds, taking a no-decision. He has faced the Marlins three times this season. In an April 17th start, Hamels allowed two runs over seven innings, taking a no-decision in the Phillies' 3-2 win. On June 14th, Hamels allowed one run in seven innings in a 9-1 Phillies' win. On July 5th, Hamels allowed two runs over eight innings of the Phillies' 14-2 win. In 18 career starts, Hamels is 6-7 with a 3.41 ERA.

Nolasco allowed four runs over 6 2/3 innings in a loss to the Mets. Nolasco has faced the Phillies twice this season. Nolasco allowed two runs (one earned) over 6 1/3 innings in the Phillies' 5-3 win on May 11th. He allowed one run over seven innings in the Phillies' 1-0 win on July 4th.

In the finale, Roy Halladay (16-5, 2.47 ERA) gets the start against Anibal Sanchez (7-7, 3.97 ERA).

Halladay pitched seven shutout innings of the Phillies' 9-0 win over the Reds Tuesday. He has faced the Marlins twice this season. Halladay lost a May 10th start, allowing two runs in eight innings of a 2-1 Phillies' loss. He took a no-decision in a game on June 15th, allowing four runs over seven innings in a 5-4 Phillies' win. In 14 career games (11 starts), Nolasco is 6-4 with a 3.36 ERA.

Sanchez allowed two runs over six innings in the Marlins' 2-1 loss to the Mets his last start. Sanchez has faced the Phillies three times this season. On April 17th, he allowed two runs over six innings in the Phillies' 3-2 win. On June 15th, he allowed two runs in seven innings, in the Phillies' 5-4 win. On July 6th, he allowed five runs in four innings of a 7-6 Phillies' loss. In 14 career starts, he is 3-7 with a 5.67 ERA.

September 2 – Phillies 5, Marlins 3
September 3 – Phillies 2, Marlins 3
September 4 – Phillies 4, Marlins 2

This series for the Phillies looks like a breeze on paper, but hold everything. The Marlins have given the Phillies some tough competition all season, and things should be no different in this three-game bout.

The opener is one that right away presents a scare. Rookie pitchers have been known to get the best of the Phillies' offense, and the Marlins got to Roy Oswalt last Friday. Then again, though, that was Citizens Bank Park, not the much more pitcher-friendly confines of Landshark Stadium. If Oswalt can keep the ball in the park, the Phillies could be in good shape. Hand has only been hit up for four or more runs twice, but he is capable of giving up a few runs, and doesn't get the greatest run support or pitch deep into games. The Phillies have found a way to get a few runs off the Marlins' bullpen, so that could be key in this one. I give the Phillies the nod here.

Nolasco has always pitched the Phillies much better than his season totals or even career numbers indicate. So, with Cole Hamels taking a few tough luck losses against the Fish before, he'll need some early run support. Hamels is just as likely to throw a shutout gem as he is to take a tough loss, but as long as Nolasco holds the Phillies down, the Marlins look favorable to take this one.

In the finale, it's hard to doubt what Doc can do for you. He's been on a tear of late, and even his tough luck loss to the D'Backs and rain-shortened outing against the Nationals didn't seem to phase him in his last start, a classic showing of Doc dominance. Even with an 0-1 record against the Marlins this season, you can't forget one of his wins against the Marlins from last season: a perfect game on May 29th. That is simply all you need to know about what Doc can do in this ballpark. Every time Doc has faced the Marlins, Anibal Sanchez has been on the losing end. As long as Doc pitches like he did in every other start against the Fish this season, it's hard to picture anything but a Phillies' win in the end.

The Phillies return home for a quick three-game series against the Braves after this series, before hitting the road again.