Philadelphia’s six-game winning streak last week is becoming a distant memory with four straight losses heading into Wednesday’s series finale against Washington. The Phillies are now surprisingly entrenched in last place in the NL East with an overall record of 21-23, which has the team 5.5 games out of first. They are 10-13 at home this season and 11-10 on the road. The total has gone ‘over’ in five of their last seven games.
Inconsistency at the plate remains Philadelphia’s main problem. After racking-up 35 runs during its six-game tear, it has managed just nine runs in its current four-game slide. The absence of Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, who have yet to play a game this season, has taken its toll with a team that is ranked third in the NL in hitting with a .263 team batting average but ninth in scoring with an average of 3.96 runs per game.
Joe Blanton is slated to get the start for the Phillies. After a promising start, the right-hander has now given-up 11 earned runs on 20 hits in his last three starts. He is now 4-4 on the year with an ERA of 3.74 and a 1.15 WHIP. Lifetime against the Cardinals, Blanton is 3-2 with a 3.03 ERA.
St. Louis snapped a four-game losing streak with two straight victories over San Diego. Heading into that series finale on Wednesday, it is still in first place by half a game over Cincinnati in the NL Central with an overall record of 24-19. The Cardinals are 13-11 on the road and 11-8 at home. The total has gone ‘over’ in six of their last 10 games.
This team boasts the most proficient lineup in the NL despite the loss of Albert Pujols, with a team batting average of .277 and an average of 5.23 runs per game. It does face some injury concerns with Lance Berkman out for six to eight weeks with a torn meniscus in his knee and third baseman Mike Carpenter considered day-to-day after leaving Tuesday’s game with a strained oblique.
The Cardinals will send Jake Westbrook to the mound as its starter. He is 4-3 on the year with a 2.41 ERA. The right-hander has held his opponents to two or less earned runs in six of his first eight starts. He is 1-1 against the Phillies with an ERA of 3.52.
It is hard to know what kind of form the Phillies will bring into this game, but given that the Cardinals remaining one of the most consistent and balanced teams in the NL, stick with them to get the early edge in this series with the win. St. Louis 5 Philadelphia 3