The fill-ins for the banged-up Philadelphia Phillies have made some key contributions this week. Now the lineup regulars might need to pitch in more.
The Phillies hope to take advantage of a four-game set with the NL’s worst team, starting Thursday night when they visit the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Chase Utley(notes) and Placido Polanco(notes) joined catcher Carlos Ruiz(notes) on the disabled list Tuesday, leaving Philadelphia (41-35) without a trio which has accounted for nearly 30 percent of its hits and runs.
The Phillies lost two of three at Cincinnati this week despite the backups coming through with big hits. Catcher Brian Schneider(notes) and infielder Wilson Valdez(notes) each had three-run homers Tuesday, combining for five hits and seven RBIs in a 9-6, 10-inning win. Valdez had two more hits Wednesday, and Dane Sardinha(notes) stepped in for Schneider to hit a three-run homer in a 4-3 defeat.
“Any hit I get means a lot to me at this stage of my career,” said the 31-year-old Sardinha, who has played 37 major league games.
Schneider—a career .366 hitter against Pittsburgh—could be back behind the plate Thursday, but Philadelphia likely needs production elsewhere. Raul Ibanez(notes) had four RBIs in the Cincinnati series, but Philadelphia’s other regular starters had none.
Rollins, however, has hit .405 in his last 18 games against Pittsburgh. Ryan Howard(notes), trying to avoid a season high-tying fifth straight game without an RBI, is batting .462 with 14 RBIs over his last seven meetings with the Pirates (27-51).
Cole Hamels(notes) (6-6, 4.08 ERA) also might look forward to facing Pittsburgh, the majors’ lowest-scoring team. He’s coming off arguably his worst outing of the year after giving up five runs - all on three homers - in four innings of a 5-1 loss at Toronto on Saturday.
It was the first time since April he allowed more than three earned runs.
“I wasn’t feeling as in-sync as I possibly could,” said Hamels, who has served up eight homers in his last 26 2-3 innings. “It’s going to happen. You have to do better and I know I can do better.”
Hamels, 1-4 in his last six starts, has a 5.40 ERA on the road as opponents have hit .302. The left-hander is 1-0 with a 3.79 ERA in three starts versus the Pirates, who have been limited to seven runs and a .197 average in their last five games.
Hamels is opposed by Daniel McCutchen(notes) (0-3, 11.00), who soon could be headed back to the minors. He was recalled last week to fill in for Zach Duke(notes) (elbow), who may come off the disabled list to take his next turn in the rotation.
McCutchen made his first big-league start in two months Saturday at Oakland and struggled in the first two innings, giving up three runs and five hits, but allowed one run and two hits over the next four in a 5-0 defeat.
“Early on I had some jitters and some nerves,” said McCutchen, whose only win in 11 major league games came Oct. 2 at Cincinnati.
Jones drove in his team-high 47th run Wednesday as Pittsburgh won for the fourth time in 23 games, 2-0 at Chicago.