Rants and raves about burning topics that have caught my attention midweek, be it greedy corporate shenanigans, frustration or joy in regards to the Philly sports teams, a movie, show or DVD that has fired up my imagination, an intriguing personality, or my on-going battle to lose weight in our fast food world. — Lori Hoffman, Associate Editor, Atlantic City Weekly
Phillies fans remember the pain of the 2007 playoffs. Back in the postseason for the first time since 1993, the team ran into a buzzsaw, the Colorado Rockies, who smoked the Phillies in a three game sweep.
That was then. This is now. The 2009 Phillies are the defending 2008 World Series Champions. While many of the players are the same on both teams (Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins; Todd Helton, Troy Tulowitzki, Brad Hawpe) there are key differences. The Rockies don’t have Matt Holliday; the Phillies have Cliff Lee, who starts today, and the home run pop provided by Raul Ibanez. The Phillies didn’t have “Lights Out” Lidge in 2007.
Ah, all right, the Phillies don’t have Lights Out Lidge this year either. They have a version of Brad Lidge that has 11 blown saves with a 0-8 record and a 7.21 ERA. The back of the Phillies bullpen will be the biggest concern as the series begins at 2:37 this afternoon. Damn that schedule that disses the World Champions.
The Phillies lefty-dominated pitching will be a big advantage vs. the Rockies. The Rockies are barely .500 against left-handed pitching. Lee cooled off after winning his first five games as a Phillie, but one of his early wins was against the Rockies. Cole Hamels has had a rollercoaster season, but he is still the defending World Series MVP. Rookie-of-the-Year candidate J.A. Happ pitched a complete game shutout against the Rockies, which is why he will not be in the bullpen for this series; instead, Phillies manager Charlie Manual added lefty Antonio Bastardo to the roster in a surprise move.
Both these teams can hit. The Phillies led the National League in homers and runs scored (224, 820); the Rockies (190, 804) were second in both categories. The Rockies have the “lights out” bullpen with set-up man Rafael Betancourt and closer Hudson Street.
The pick: The Phillies will need to out slug the Rockies, and they will, winning in four games.