Jul 9, 2011, 2:32 PM EDT
Thanks to last night’s victory in extra innings, the Phillies have already avoided the doomsday scenario where the Atlanta Braves sweep through Citizens Bank Park, and enter the All Star Break in first place. It’s back to work today though in a Fox matinee, with Cliff Lee (9-6, 2.92) looking to rebound against righthander Tommy Hanson (10-4, 2.52).
After earning the NL Pitcher of the Month award for June (a no-brainer), Lee was cruising like usual in Toronto on Sunday until the Blue Jays offense exploded in the eighth inning. Tdot crushed three home runs in four at bats to pull ahead late in the game, as it appeared the Phils’ ace ran out of gas. It was his first loss since May 31.
He’ll try to regain the momentum today, but it hasn’t come easy against the Bravos. Lee is 0-2 in two appearances this season. He was steady in their last meeting on May 6, giving up three runs over seven innings, but Atlanta crushed him earlier on April 8, chasing Lee from the game after 3.1.
The top of the order has been a particular nuisance to Lee so far, especially Martin Prado, Chipper Jones, and Brian McCann. The three have combined for 13 hits and 7 RBIs in two games. The combination of Alex Gonzalez and Nate McClouth in the two-hole has gone for another 5 hits and 2 RBIs. On the plus side, the Cliff catches something of a break as Chipper went on the disabled list today.
On for the Braves is Hanson, and looking at his numbers, it may come as something of a surprise he is not an All Star. Hanson is among the National League leaders in every major category. He’s the winning pitcher in his last five consecutive starts, allowing seven runs in 32 innings of work over that time span. He also struck out 14 in a game against the Houston Astros on June 12.
Hanson had a short stint on the DL in there, but has remained sharp in his two starts since returning.
This will be the first time the Fightins face Hanson this year. Last season, he made four starts versus Philly, and while you can’t say he was ineffective–just three earned runs allowed total–Hanson only earned one win and never went deeper than 6.2 innings. Twice he went five or less.
That’s not really his game though. Hanson hasn’t gone deeper than seven innings all season, which means the Phillies will likely see some more of the Atlanta bullpen tonight. Bring on Scott Proctor!
First pitch is at 4:10.
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