Ty Wigginton and the Phillies are in LA for a three-game series with the Dodgers. The Dodgers swept the Phillies in a four-game series in Philadelphia in June. (Philliedelphia/Kevin Durso)
The Phillies not only won a series this past weekend, they won two games in a row for the first time since entering June 27, the night Chase Utley returned.
It may be too early to officially proclaim the Phillies are back on the right track, but for the first time in nearly a month, the Phillies appeared to play the final two games of the Rockies series with a purpose that has been missing for most of the season. Now, they need to keep that up against a dangerous Dodgers team.
The Dodgers have slipped since their hot start which also featured a four-game sweep of the Phillies from June 4 to June 7. They did have to endure time without their two biggest bats, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. Both are back just in time for this series with the Phillies.
But also don't forget some of the other players that are making the Dodgers contenders this season. A.J. Ellis and James Loney are two of them, and don't forget about newly formed Phillie killers Dee Gordon and Elian Herrera. The Phillies miss out on Gordon who is sidelined with injury. Herrera will likely see a solid amount of playing time this series.
The pitching may be what has hurt the Dodgers the most recently. With Chad Billingsley hitting the DL, the Dodgers have to shuffle their rotation. Just in time for the Phillies to get their ace back.
Here are the pitching matchups for the series.
In the opener, Joe Blanton (7-8, 4.98 ERA) goes against Nathan Eovaldi (1-5, 4.21 ERA) - Blanton was unable to hold a 3-1 lead against the Braves last Saturday, taking the loss and allowing six runs (five earned) in 6 1/3 innings. In his career against the Dodgers (five starts), Blanton is 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA.
Eovaldi picked up his first win of the season in his last start, allowing one run in six innings to the Diamondbacks. Prior to that, Eovaldi had lost three straight starts. This is his first career start against the Phillies.
In the middle game, Roy Halladay (4-5, 3.98 ERA) starts for the Phillies. The Dodgers have yet to announce a starter. - Halladay is making his return from the DL since giving up four runs in two innings to the Cardinals in a loss on May 27. In his career against the Dodgers (five starts), Halladay is 4-1 with a 1.95 ERA.
In the finale, Cliff Lee (1-6, 3.82 ERA) gets the start against Clayton Kershaw (7-5, 2.84 ERA) - Lee was cruising through his last start when he ran into some trouble in the sixth. He allowed three runs in six innings in taking another loss on this rough season. In his career against the Dodgers (four starts), Lee is 2-1 with a 0.90 ERA.
Kershaw has had an up-and-down season immediately following his Cy Young season in 2011. He won his last start allowing one run over six innings. In his career against the Phillies (seven starts), Kershaw is 0-4 with a 4.95 ERA.
July 16 - Phillies 3, Dodgers 5
July 17 - Phillies 5, Dodgers 2
July 18 - Phillies 6, Dodgers 4
The Phillies winning this series comes down to two people on the mound and the lineup is one game. If Joe Blanton can pitch well in the opener, the Phillies have the potential to win it. I don't think that will happen.
If Cliff Lee can pitch well in the finale and get some run support, the Phillies can beat Kershaw and the Dodgers in this series. The Phillies really don't have a choice anymore. They have to win series and finish the games they are in position to win.
That being said, the Phillies may just have everything lined up the way they want for this series against the Dodgers. It would be best for their season, if they have any hopes left in it, to take advantage of it now.