For the first time in three months, the Philadelphia Phillies expect to have the eight position players from their opening day lineup on the field.
They’ll be facing the club’s opening day starter from last season.
Hoping to make a run at a fourth straight NL East crown, the finally healthy Phillies will open a four-game series Monday night against the Houston Astros in Brett Myers’(notes) first game against his former team.
Because of injuries to Ryan Howard(notes), Chase Utley(notes), Shane Victorino(notes), Placido Polanco(notes) and Jimmy Rollins(notes), Philadelphia (70-53) has not had its complete opening day lineup since May 21. Howard came off the disabled list Saturday, but Jayson Werth(notes) was given the day off. In Sunday’s 6-0 win over Washington, manager Charlie Manuel rested Utley, who returned Tuesday after being out seven weeks with a fractured right thumb.
Despite all the injuries, the Phillies are atop the wild-card standings and are only 2 1/2 games back of East-leading Atlanta.
“What do I think of them? I think we’re going to take it to ‘em,” Manuel said.
Myers (8-7, 3.11 ERA) spent his first eight seasons with the Phillies and made his third straight opening day start for the franchise last April. He also helped the club win the 2008 World Series and served as the team’s closer in 2007.
This will be Myers’ first appearance at Citizens Bank Park since throwing an inning of relief in Game 3 of last year’s World Series.
Following an injury-plagued 2009 season, Myers signed a one-year deal with Houston in January. The right-hander has been one of the few bright spots for the Astros (54-69) and is establishing himself as team’s new ace following the Oswalt trade.
Myers, who at the trade deadline signed a two-year contract extension with a club option for a third year, has set a franchise record by lasting at least six innings in each of his first 25 starts. He is 3-1 with a 2.26 ERA in his last nine outings, and in Wednesday’s 3-2, 14-inning loss to the Mets, he allowed two runs and seven hits in seven innings.
Myers didn’t appear in Houston’s first series against the Phillies, when Philadelphia outscored the Astros 19-7 in sweeping a three-game set April 9-11. Howard had four RBIs, and Werth was 5 for 12 with three runs driven in.
The Phillies have won five of six against the Astros, and enter this series winners of six of eight overall.
The Astros arrive in Philadelphia after defeating Florida 2-1 on Sunday to salvage the finale of a three-game series. Hunter Pence(notes) hit a tiebreaking homer in the eighth inning as Houston snapped a six-game road skid.
Blanton gave up two runs and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings in Wednesday’s 8-2 win over San Francisco. The right-hander is 2-0 with a 4.06 ERA in his last five starts, yielding two runs in three outings.
Blanton is 1-0 with a 4.15 ERA in two career starts against the Astros.