The Philadelphia Phillies dealt with a pro-New York crowd last week in a series against the Mets. It’ll likely be the same on Monday night when the New York Yankees make their first visit to Citizens Bank Park in the opener of a three-game set.
The Phillies (34-35) were swept at home last week by the Mets, whose fans made the short trip to Philadelphia to create a home atmosphere for their team. The series featured the second-largest crowd in the three-year history of Citizens Bank Park last Thursday when 45,102 fans attended Philadelphia’s 5-4 loss.
The Yankees (38-29) have a fan base that usually makes its presence felt in visiting ballparks and that should be the case in the team’s first trip to Philadelphia since July 15-17, 2001. The Phillies averaged more than 51,000 fans — many rooting for New York—for that three-game series at Veterans Stadium.
“From what I hear, it’s a beautiful ballpark,” said Yankees manager Joe Torre about Citizens Bank Park. “But it’s a little cozy.”
Torre may have reason to worry about the hitter-friendly dimensions of Citizens Bank Park since he will send Randy Johnson (8-5, 5.32 ERA) to the mound. Johnson has surrendered a team-high 15 homers for the season.
The five-time Cy Young Award winner enters after one of his better outings of a difficult year last Wednesday against Cleveland. He gave up one run and four hits over 6 1-3 innings in a 6-1 victory—his first at home since April 29.
“I think he’s pretty comfortable,” Torre said. “The last start was the most impressive of all of them. He just looked like he had a little more oomph in his last game, so hopefully we can see that again.”
The “Big Unit” is 8-2 with a 2.37 ERA in 15 career starts against Philadelphia. The left-hander won his lone outing at Citizens Bank Park on May 1, 2004, with Arizona by allowing three runs and four hits over five innings while striking out nine in a 6-4 victory.
Torre opted to try to use Wang the distance because his relievers had worked 12 innings over the previous three days.
“It would have been nice for him to go out with a game-winning hit today and to go to Philadelphia on a positive note,” center fielder Johnny Damon said. “Now we have to collect ourselves again and get ready for another tough series.”
New York is 8-7 against Philadelphia in interleague play, but just 3-6 on the road.
Torre’s third-base coach is Larry Bowa, one of the more popular players in Phillies history and a member of the 1980 championship team. Bowa managed Philadelphia to a 337-308 mark from 2001-04 before he was fired on the last weekend of his final campaign.
Philadelphia ended a season-worst six-game losing streak Sunday with an 8-5 victory over Tampa Bay. Ryan Howard homered and drove in four runs for the Phillies, who led for only one-half inning during the skid.
“Everybody has to step it up to help break us out of this. Nothing had to be said before the game, we all knew what we had to do,” Howard said.
Brett Myers (4-3, 3.86) will make his first career start against the Yankees. Myers is 3-4 with a 6.60 ERA in 13 career interleague starts.
The right-hander has struggled in three starts in June, going 0-1 with a 10.22 ERA.