Come October, will we look back to this matchup of current division cellar dwellers as a World Series preview? Probably not, but you could definitely name a slew of more unlikely Fall Classic battles at this point.
The Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies continue their almost-annual meeting Saturday with a 7:15 p.m. (ET) first pitch at Citizens Bank Park. Game 2 of the series will find Jon Lester on the mound for the visitors against Joe Blanton. Boston opened as slight favorites (-115) with the total 7½ and priced -130 to the 'over.'
Philly and Beantown have met eight of the last nine seasons – and 16 total series – in a sort of an arranged marriage as 'interleague rivals.' The Red Sox had the 27-19 overall edge before Friday's contest that listed Cole Hamels and the Phils as 145 favorites with a 7-run total. This is the fifth series in the last six to be played in Philadelphia where the Sox are 14-12.
Lester's scorecard is a mess this season, a couple of bad outings that Boston split along with two decent efforts that the Red Sox dropped. One might think that a 3.71 ERA for a team that scores 5.41 RPG (3rd-most) would be a real good thing, but Boston is just 3-5 in Lester's starts. He looked real good in his last assignment vs. Seattle, but that was the Mariners and not a more potent attack even if the Phils are a wounded bunch.
All told, Boston is 12-5 in Lester's regular season starts vs. NL clubs, and a perfect 3-0 when he faces the Phils. All three of those games were played in the City of Brotherly Love where Lester has tossed 21 innings and allowed just a single earned run.
Philadelphia clawed back over .500 with a Thursday's win and begins this series on a 5-game streak. Granted, the last two were against the lowly Chicago Cubs, but the offense did awaken for 17 runs in those two tilts.
Blanton has been as steady as Charlie Manuel might have hoped, and with Vance Worley now nursing a sore wing, Blanton becomes even more crucial to Philadelphia's hopes for 2012. Say all you want about the impact Ryan Howard and Chase Utley can have once they're healthy, but the Phillies' rotation is going to carry them into the postseason more than any other facet.
Philadelphia picked up wins in three of Blanton's last four assignments, but has dropped both of his assignments vs. Boston since joining the club, one a decent outing at Citizens Bank Park and the other a disaster at Fenway.
Haren, Halos Try Luck At Petco Park
They've met 22 times before in interleague play, but this weekend is the first time for the Los Angeles Angels and San Diego Padres to battle at Petco Park. The all-time series was split 11-11 with each club 7-7 in Anaheim and 4-4 in San Diego entering Friday's contest that had the Angels priced at -170 behind Jered Weaver. The Pads were countering with Jeff Suppan in that contest which was still pending.
Mike Scioscia's club will once again be road chalk Saturday night when the Halos send Dan Haren to the hill as a $1.40 favorite with a 6½-run total. Tim Stauffer was slated for San Diego in the 10:05 p.m. (ET) first pitch.
Haren drags a string of three losses into this match, and the Angels have won just one of his eight assignments so far. He's been the victim of his own pitching and a dormant LA attack. The Halos haven't scored a run in Haren's current 3-game skid, and just 19 total in the eight games with nine of those coming in an April defeat at Minnesota.
Though Petco might be a new experience for a lot of Angels, Haren is familiar with the stadium from his time spent in the Arizona rotation. The Diamondbacks split his six starts here (3.82 ERA), and the Halos were 2-1 in Haren's three interleague outings a year ago (4.67 ERA).
Stauffer is taking the mound for just the second time in 2012 after beginning the season on the DL with a sprained right elbow. He tossed five frames and allowed four runs (three earned) Monday at Washington, a game in which the Pads eventually dropped by an 8-5 count. Stauffer has never faced the Angels, and San Diego dropped two of his three interleague starts last season despite his 2.25 ERA over 20 innings of work.
Albert Pujols is the only batter in LA's lineup that has much experience either at Petco Park or against Stauffer. Pujols owns a .258 career average at the stadium (97 AB) with seven homers, and is 2-for-13 lifetime vs. Stauffer without a long ball