It’s the baseball version of the cinematic classic “As Good As It Gets”
starring Roy Halladay and the Phillies.
Tonight’s viewing is slated for 8:05 PM ET. The Wrigley Field forecast is
calling for a 50 percent chance of rain with temperatures of 80 degrees, winds
of 12 miles per hour out of the West Southwest and plenty of humidity.
Halladay (11-3, 2.45) is on pace for a second-straight Cy Young award as
he faces the Cubbies in the series opener. He hasn’t lost since May 15 going
6-0 with two complete game victories and four no-decisions, games in which the
Phillies eventually won. Chicago will go with Rodrigo Lopez who is 1-2 with a
4.02 ERA and opened in the baseball betting as a +175 ‘dog compared to
Halladay’s price tag of -205 while the books have not yet set a total.
The Cubs, who lost three out of four this weekend to Florida are now 20
games under.500 (38-58) with three games coming up against the best team baseball.
Only the woeful Houston Astros stand between Chicago and last-place in the National
League Central Division.
The Phillies begin the night with a 3.5 game lead in the NL East. They
took two out of three over the Mets in a high scoring series in which all three
games topped the total. The feel good
story in Sunday’s game against New York was 28-year old rookie Michael Martinez
who slugged his first major league homer, a blast that provided the margin of
victory in an 8-5 decision. The win improved Philadelphia’s MLB best record to 59-35
with the Red Sox second at 56-36. If they stopped the season right now and had
those two teams play in the World Series, I wouldn’t have a problem with it
since that’s the way it could play out.
If Philadelphia wins the division or even the wild-card, they can point to
their play within the division as one of their keys to success. The Phillies
are 29-16 against Eastern Division opponents with no other team in the big
leagues is even close in that category except Boston which leads the American
League with a 25-11 division mark.
It was exactly one
year ago when Halladay made his first post All-Star appearance at Wrigley Field
and got crushed by the Cubs 11-6. This year Halladay arrives at the ‘Friendly
Confines’ fresh off a perfect two-inning stint at this year’s midsummer
classic. In his last outing the ‘Doctor’ settled for a no-decision in a 3-2,
10-inning win over the Braves working the first seven-innings and allowed two
runs, seven hits and recorded eight strikeouts. Over his last ten starts he’s
6-0, the Phillies are 10-0 and the team is a remarkable 16-3 this season when
takes the ball.
In his last outing
against the Cubs, Halladay worked seven scoreless innings to come away with a
7-5 victory. It was his first victory in four career decisions against Chicago.
Overall The Philly has taken 22 of 31 from the Cubs.
When you’re hot, you’re hot!
The Phillies Raul
Ibanez is on a 15 of 38 tear in his past eight games while Jimmy Rollins is on
a 20 for 50 streak covering eight games. Ryan Howard has feasted on Cubs
pitching and is hitting .417 with six round-trippers in his past nine games.
The Cubs have been
struggling offensively but Geovany Soto (.333) and Marlon Byrd (.308) are both
hitting above .300 on the current home stand. Rookie Starlin Castro is batting
.294 against the Phillies this season with two homers and eight RBI’s.
Still to come
matchup has Cliff Lee (9-6, 2.82) facing Matt Garza (4-7, 3.97) while Vance
Worley (5-1, 2.15) and Ryan Dempster (7-6, 4.68) will meet in the series
Harvey’s Take; Halladay is pitching on nine days
rest, not including his All-Star stint. I know it’s a huge number but for me
the ‘Doc’ is the only way to go. He’s won 84 percent of his starts and is the
number one money pitcher in the majors having earned +1187 units for his