Even without one of their top players, the Philadelphia Phillies
can still put out an intimidating lineup.
This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, as long as Chase
Utley and Ryan Howard are still penciled in their regular
Off to their best start in 17 years, the surging Phillies look
to build on their highest-scoring game of the season and sweep
their second consecutive home series over the Washington Nationals
Philadelphia’s potent offense appeared to take a hit Wednesday,
when shortstop Jimmy Rollins was placed on the 15-day disabled list
with a calf strain. The three-time All-Star and 2007 NL MVP, who is
batting .391 with eight runs scored, was injured during warmups
before Monday’s 7-4 home-opening victory over the Nationals.
Manager Charlie Manuel had to do some lineup juggling Wednesday,
and putting Shane Victorino in the leadoff spot helped provide more
than enough offense.
The Phillies (7-1) won 14-7, the sixth time they’ve plated at
least seven runs. The top four batters in the order – Victorino,
Placido Polanco, Utley and Howard – went a combined 10 for 18 with
12 RBIs and nine runs. Victorino finished with four hits and a
career-best five RBIs, and Utley hit two homers for Philadelphia,
off to its best start since opening 8-1 in its 1993 pennant-winning
“That’s a great-hitting team,” Nationals manager Jim Riggleman
said. “We’ve got to keep the ball down. When they hit the ball in
the air in this ballpark, they’re going to kill you.”
Washington (3-5) has lost eight straight at Citizens Bank Park,
and 13 of 14 there. Utley and Howard have been instrumental to that
Utley, who also homered Monday, is batting .413 with five home
runs, 16 RBIs and 19 runs in the last 13 home games against the
Nationals. Howard is hitting .320 with four homers and 17 RBIs in
the last 14.
Howard looks to continue that success against one of his
The 2006 NL MVP is hitting .483 with two homers and three
doubles lifetime against scheduled starter Scott Olsen – Howard’s
highest average against any pitcher he has had at least 13 at-bats
This will be Olsen’s season debut after missing half of 2009
because of a shoulder injury. The left-hander went 2-4 with a 6.03
ERA in 11 starts before undergoing surgery in July. He faced the
Phillies twice, going 1-1 with a 5.06 ERA.
Olsen made a minor league start Friday, allowing four runs and
eight hits in 6 1-3 innings for Triple-A Syracuse.
Philadelphia counters with J.A. Happ (1-0, 0.00 ERA), who is
hoping to go a bit deeper after struggling at times during his 2010
Happ went 10-4 with a 2.99 ERA in 23 starts as a rookie last
season, but allowed six hits and two walks with five strikeouts in
five innings of an 8-0 win at Houston on Friday. Although he kept
the Astros off the scoreboard, he threw 103 pitches.
“I am happy with it, but it would have been nice to have been a
little more economical,” the left-hander said
In his only career start against Washington on May 29, Happ gave
up three runs, three hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings of a 5-4