The Phillies will try to regain first place as they get a visit from an old enemy, the Braves.

The second place Phillies (54-48) will start a three games weekend series with the Braves (48-53). The first game of the three game set will be played tonight at Citizens Bank Park and will start at 7:05 pm Eastern. The Phillies’ starter will be their number four man Kyle Kendrick (8-4, 4.87), who is unfortunately coming off of an awful performance against the Marlins on July 19, where he would only last four and one-third innings, giving up seven earned runs on ten hits, in the Phillies’ 9-5 lost. In that performance, he would pitch inside on right handed hitters which would seem to confound the young Marlins’ righthanders, but he in turn would get hurt by their left handed batters, who would knock in all but two of the runs that he would give up in the game. This seems to be Kendrick’s major weakness, as over 62% of the hits that he has given up so far in his young career has been to lefthanders. Maybe a bit more studying under Jamie Moyer to learn how to get around lefties, and the continuing ability to work inside on righties might get him moved up into the number three spot in the rotation. He will be facing the Braves for the fourth time this year, with a 2-0 record plus a no-decision, which the Phillies would also win, as he pitched a combine total of seventeen and one-third innings against the Braves, giving up only eight earned runs on seventeen hits. Lifetime against the Braves, he is 3-0 with a 4.13 ERA in five starts. He will be trying to record his ninth win, while trying to help get the Phillies back on the winning track. The Braves’ will counter with Jair Jurrjens (9-5, 3.22), who is coming off a lost against the Nationals, also on July 19, where he would go six and a third inning, giving up five earned runs on eight hits, in the Braves’ 8-2 lost. The young hurler from the Netherlands has already pitched one game against the Phillies so far this year, losing to them back on July 3, as he pitched seven innings, giving up four earned runs on eight hits, in the Braves’ 4-1 lost. He will be trying for his tenth win of the season while seeing if he will have better luck this time against the presently potentless Phillies’ batters.

The Phillies’ batters can’t seem to do anything right at the moment, as they return from New York losing the last game of their most recent three games series with them without so much as a fight. The batters appear to still be in a general slump, in spite of some players having good individual batting performances. But, in general, the batters don’t seem to be using their heads when they are at the plate. They don’t seem to take their time, or not swing at balls that are, quite frankly, not in the strike zone, or even close to it. They don’t seem to be willing to sacrifice themselves, making a strategic out, if it will result in either getting a runner over to third, from second, or getting them home with less than two outs, by hitting the ball to the left side of the infield. They don’t seem to be doing too much hit and run with the players on the team that have some speed, that could open up a hole between second and first, thereby getting the runner over to third. They don’t seem to be staying patient enough at the plate with they are ahead of the count at either 2-0, 2-1 or 3-0, thereby forcing the pitcher to throw them their pitch, and not his slop, which opposing pitchers are at the moment quite sure that they will go after since they are all playing really lousy right now. Quite frankly, they need to play so much smarter baseball in general, getting away from the long ball, which at the moment seems to be bringing in just one run at a time, and start doing some small ball, which I  believe that I have already mentioned here several times in the past. Yes, it’ll bring in one or two runs at a time, but at least it should keep the defense on, well, the defensive, wondering what these guys are going to do next. I think it’s time that they start taking it to the other team, and stop hoping that something is going to happen. News flash guys, the only way things are going to happen is if you guys start making it happen offensively, especially as the starters have kept you in most of the last dozen or so games that you have lost. Your opponents are not blowing you guys out of games. Quite frankly, you guys are playing yourselves out of games. Hopefully, since you’ll be facing weak teams for the next several series, you might be able to correct this. But, if you guys start losing series to the Nationals and the Padres of the world, that’s it, this season is officially over, end of story.

The Phillies trail the now first place Mets by a game, as the Mets prepare to face the Cardinals for a three games weekend series. The Marlins, who are now behind the Phillies by a game, thanks to a lost to the National League Central leading Cubs last night, will continue their four games series with the Cubs. The Braves are behind the Phillies by five and a half games as they come to Philadelphia for a weekend series. The Phillies will be trying to continue their present dominance of the Braves, while seeing if they can regain their winning ways.

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