This will certainly be a challenging week for the Phils, as they face talented teams and unfavorable pitching match-ups. The mini road-trip will be a good indication of where the Phillies currently stand.
Starting tonight in St. Louis, against the team with the second best record in the National League at 17-8, the Phils have drawn the Cardinals' two best starting pitchers for this short two game set. Former Phil Kyle Lohse (3-0 1.97) takes the hill tonight against Joe Blanton, and Brett Myers opposes Adam Wainwright (3-0 2.76) tomorrow. Blanton and Myers' combined record is 1-4. It won't be easy, breaking up the perfect records of either Lohse or Wainwright this week, and the Phillies certainly have their work cut out for them.
After St. Louis, they will play their first game ever at Citi Field, in the most unbalanced pitching match-up imaginable. Chan Ho Park, who was rocked by the Mets his last time out, takes his win-less record and 8.57 era up against Johan Santana (3-1 1.10). The series closes with Jamie Moyer, who also struggled against New York this weekend, against Mike Pelfrey who pitched very well against the Phils on Friday.
Going 2-2 during this stretch would be a major positive, and preventing a sweep is crucial. On the road against two tough teams and four tough pitchers, the Phillies need to fight, scratch and claw their way to a few wins during this stretch. If they can't manage to do so, it could carry over and deflate the team a bit as they return home to face the Atlanta Braves. Fortunately, Cole Hamels is slated to take the ball on in Friday's opener against Atlanta.
On another note, what exactly is Miguel Cairo doing on this team? He has just eight at bats, and it is not fair to judge him on such limited playing time, but he has no role on this team whatsoever. He's also hit-less in those eight at bats, but that's not the major factor. Eric Bruntlett is the same type of player, but better, and is the primary utility infielder on the team. That bench spot seems as though it could be better used, on a power hitter or potential base-stealer for late in games. Cairo is a solid defender, but is not getting any time as a defensive replacement and would not be a long-term solution should an injury arise.
Hopefully Big Joe rebounds from a terrible start his last time out and the Phils put on a hitting clinic against Lohse tonight to get the roadtrip off to a great start.