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Marching Like Ants Into the Sun: Phillies Host Rays At CBP for First Time Since ’08

Jun 22, 2012, 4:52 PM EDT

The Phillies host the Rays at CBP for the first time since clinching the '08 World Series, as Cliff Lee still searches for his first win in 2012.

It really shouldn’t come as much of a shock the Phillies couldn’t work a sweep of the Rockies, a team I was convinced could have gone the rest of the year without winning another game. As Cliff Lee would say, that’s baseball.

Lee famously uttered those words after pitching 10 shutout innings against the Giants back in April, when it was still cute he didn’t have a victory, only to watch helplessly as the Phils lost in 11. Two months and a stint on the DL later, now it’s a microcosm of this season.

We’re all a little tired of talking about it though, so let’s just accept our fate like Cliff does, and move on to tonight’s notes.

Exluding the On-Deck Series in ’09, tonight is the first time the Rays have business in Philadelphia since Brad Lidge struck out Eric Hinske to clinch the 2008 World Series — ah, the good ol’ days. The clubs last squared off in a meaningful series at Tropicana Field later the following year, during which Tampa Bay took two of three.

The Rays present a match-up problem for the Phils, that being they’re not an awful team. TB is 3.5 back of the Yankees in the AL East, and currently own one of the Wild Card spots. Their pitching staff is in possession of the second-best ERA in the league (3.49), and they 34 of the club’s 38 wins this season occured in games where they held their opponent to four runs or less.

James Shields (7-4, 3.72) takes the hill tonight. He earned Tampa’s lone win in Game 2 of the WS, holding the once-potent Phillies to zero runs over 5.2 frames. However, not too many guys who would’ve seen Shields that night are in the lineup today, especially with Shane Victorino resting — just Jimmy Rollins and Carlos Ruiz.

Rollins was 0-for-3 off Shields during the postseason, and went 1-for-3 with a two-run double in their lone regular season face off back in 2006. Ruiz has only a pair of post-season at bats, going 1-for-1 with a double.

There are several players in the dugout who have seen quite a bit of Shields though, none more effective than Placido Polanco. The third baseman is 8-for-17 lifetime with a pair of home runs against Shields. Jim Thome (1) and Ty Wigginton (2) have also taken Shields over the fence.

As for Lee (0-3, 3.48), he too is familiar with Tampa Bay from his time in the Amiercan League. In 13 career regular season starts versus the Rays, he’s 6-5 with a 2.87. Lee owns them in a pair of post-season outings for the Rangers in 2010, going 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 16 innings.

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