The Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago Cubs open up a three-game National League series Monday night at historic Wrigley Field
Philadelphia Phillies at Chicago Cubs
Philadelphia continues to roll along during the 2011 season and comfortably leads the NL East division, coming off a series victory over the New York Mets over the weekend. The Phillies still have some things to fix up, specifically an offense that has a .249 team batting average. “This year, that’s what it takes for us,” said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. “If we got anybody who wants to hit .300, they can. I’m definitely not going to stop them.” In 11 games this month prior to Sunday’s 8-5 win over the Mets, the club was hitting .279 and scored 64 runs, which is its highest monthly average since hitting .261 in April. Philadelphia is 42-26 versus right-handed starters this year.
Phillies starting pitcher Roy Halladay comes in with a dominating 11-3 record and 2.45 ERA and the club has won his last 10 starts overall. The right-hander has garnered a 5-2 mark and 2.44 ERA in eight road games this year, issuing 11 walks and registering 63 strikeouts in 62 2/3 frames. In four career starts versus the Cubs, Halladay is 1-3 with a 3.24 ERA, but has walked just a single batter in 25 frames. He has surprisingly never won at Wrigley Field, posting an 0-2 mark and 4.85 ERA in two appearances.
Chicago has dropped eight of its last 11 games and things will likely not improve against the NL’s best team. The Cubs are in the midst of playing seven-straight games against NL East opponents, coming into this contest with a 7-10 record versus such opponents. Monday’s series opener marks the first meeting of the season between the two at Wrigley Field, as the Cubs dropped three of four games in mid-June at Citizens Bank Park, getting outscored 21-13. Offensively, third baseman Aramis Ramirez continues to be a bright spot, hitting 11 home runs in his last 21 games. Chicago is 21-29 at home this season and 28-42 versus right-handed starters.
Cubs starting pitcher Rodrigo Lopez is 1-2 with a 4.02 ERA in 13 appearances (four starts) this season and is coming off a no-decision effort last time out. He allowed three runs and eight hits over six frames in a 7-4 road loss to the Pirates. The right-hander has tallied an even 1-1 mark and 4.66 ERA in six home outings, including a 3-1 victory over the White Sox on July 3. In six career appearances (four starts) versus the Phillies, Lopez is 1-1 with a 5.74 ERA, including three scoreless frames of relief in two outings this year.
Bettors will likely back the Phillies due to their 10-1 mark with Halladay as a road favorite, while the Cubs are 2-9 versus the NL East