Let that soak in for a minute.
Now that it’s soaked in, it’s time to get down to business. The Phillies are in Houston tonight to begin a 4 game set against the unbelievably inept Astros. Seriously, could you ask for a better opponent while riding the high of a 7 game win streak? You couldn’t. The Astros are a franchise that is at rock bottom right now, and they don’t seem to be ready to climb out any time soon.
Not so fast though, because it’s not all great. The Phillies always seem to struggle in Houston, especially in September. Minute Maid Park has always been a house of horrors for the Fightins’, second only to PNC Park in terms of hell on earth for this team. Hunter Pence, Carlos Lee, Brad Ausmus, Morgan Ensberg, Billy Wagner, Craig Biggio, etc. are some names among a long list of Astros players to hurt this team when the Phillies travel to the Space City.
This Astros team, however, is different. All of the aforementioned names have long since left the team, and as such the team has plummeted. The Phillies have never faced an Astros team this piss poor, this inept, this much of a joke. They need to take advantage. Four games await us this weekend, while the Cardinals and Dodgers square off in LA for a four game set of their own. While the Cards and Dodgers hopefully beat up on each other, the Phillies need to swoop in and pick the bones. Ideally, the Cards and Dodgers split and the Phillies take three of four or even sweep this weekend. They absolutely, 100% CANNOT have a split here. It is not acceptable to split against a team like this.
Tonight on the mound is Phillies’ rookie Tyler Cloyd. Cloyd is coming off a rough start in which he allowed four runs in just four innings, including a three run home run. He’s also working on short rest, as there was a doubleheader Sunday and the Phils wanted to keep ace Cole Hamels on his normal rest. While this might stack the odds against Cloyd, he does get the pleasure of facing a terrible Astros lineup.
Taking the bump opposite of him is Lucas Harrell. Harrell has been the Astros’ best pitcher this year, coming into the game with a 10-9 record and a respectable 3.83 ERA. He has made one start against the Phillies in his career, and it was back in May at Citizens Bank Park. He pitched okay, pitching into the sixth inning and allowed three runs (two earned) but took the loss in a Phillies 5-1 victory.
There’s no denying tonight is a big game. They’re all big at this point. Isn’t it great to say that again though? A game is “big”. September baseball is here, fall is on its way, and the Phillies can smell October.
The Phillies are not in danger. They ARE the danger. A team that has a chance at the postseason falls apart under pressure and you think it’s the Phillies? No.
They are the ones who knock.