It’s been so long since Philadelphia starter Randy Wolf started in the majors, that he feels like he’s making his big-league debut.
Wolf takes in the mound for the first time in more than a year Sunday in the opening game of a doubleheader with the Florida Marlins at Citizens Bank Park.
The 29-year-old left-hander is making his first start since June 11, 2005, after undergoing ligament replacement surgery on his pitching elbow. Wolf won 16 games and was named to the NL All-Star team in 2003, but has struggled with the elbow since then.
“When you get the big leagues after an injury, it’s just like your debut,” said Wolf, who made his actual debut in 1999. “You have to prove that you’re OK.”
Wolf has struggled against the Marlins in the past, going 3-12 with a 6.07 ERA—his worst ERA against any NL team.
He will square off against rookie phenom Anibal Sanchez (4-0, 3.00 ERA), who won his third straight start on Tuesday, allowing one run and seven hits in seven innings of a 2-1 victory at Atlanta. Sanchez’s scoreless streak reached 23 innings—breaking Dontrelle Willis’ rookie record of 19—before Marcus Giles singled in a run in the sixth.
“That’s great,” Willis said. “That’s the things he’s supposed to do. He’s got great mound presence. He’s going to go a long way.”
Sanchez has allowed just one run in 21 innings over his last three starts. Cody Ross has hit three solo homers in Sanchez’s last two starts, accounting for all of the right-hander’s run support over that span.
“That’s really not the game plan, but we’ll take it,” Ross said.
Brian Moehler (5-7, 6.84) returns from the disabled list to start the second game for Florida. Moehler hasn’t pitched since July 1 because of a sprained right foot.
“I imagine Sunday he’ll be able to give us 85 to 90 pitches,” manager Joe Girardi said. “Obviously you hope that’s six or seven innings. But getting him back, I think, is helpful.”
Since Florida’s rotation, which includes Willis and four rookies, has flourished recently, Moehler could end up in the bullpen following Sunday’s start.
“I have no problem coming out of the ‘pen,” said Moehler, who is 1-0 with a 5.12 ERA in five career appearances, including two starts, against the Phillies. “These five starters have done a great job.”
Moehler will match up against Ryan Madson (8-7, 6.18), who allowed two runs and five hits in four innings of the Phillies’ 11-inning, 6-5 loss Tuesday to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The 25-year-old right-hander tied a major league record with four wild pitches in the third inning.
“It was just one of those days,” said Madson, who is 0-2 with an 8.79 ERA in three July starts.
Madson is 0-2 with a 3.38 ERA in 18 career appearances, including one start, against the Marlins. The start came on May 1, when he allowed five runs in 5 1-3 innings in Philadelphia’s 8-5 win without receiving a decision.
The Phillies (47-54) have won three of four, including Saturday’s 12-3 win over the Marlins—the second game of a five-game series. Ryan Howard hit his NL-leading 34th homer, Chase Utley singled and homered to extend his hitting streak to 29 games and Pat Burrell and Aaron Rowand also connected for Philadelphia, which is 6 1/2 games behind Cincinnati in the NL wild-card race.
Utley is hitting .403 (50-for-124) with eight homers and 26 RBIs during his hitting streak, which began on June 23. His streak is the longest in the majors this season.
Josh Willingham hit a two-run homer for the Marlins (48-54), who lost for just the second time in eight games.