Monday, July 24, 2017

AL West leading Astros visit Philadelphia for three-game set

The Philadelphia Phillies are playing arguably their best baseball of the season, but they're up for a serious test on Monday as the Houston Astros visit Citizens Bank Park for a three-game set.

The Astros enter Philadelphia with a 17 game lead in the American League's West Division and the second best record in baseball behind only the Los Angeles Dodgers.

As for the Phillies, the All-Star break appears to have marked a turning point. The club won consecutive series for the first time since April, have scored five or more runs in seven straight games in the same calendar year for the first time since 2005, and collected 78 hits in their last seven games.

“It’s reminiscent the way we’ve been swinging the bats of us coming back and coming from behind and catching up and beating other teams,” Manager Pete Mackanin said after Philadelphia’s 6-3 win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday.

The Phillies send Vince Velasquez (2-5, 5.14 ERA) to the mound to face fellow right-hander Brad Peacock (8-1, 2.49) on Monday in the series opener.

Velasquez pitched well in his last start, his first back from a disabled list stint (right elbow) that sidelined him since early June.

“Having the injury here, it’s kind of tough mentally,” Velasquez said after allowing one earned run in six innings in a no-decision at Miami on Tuesday. “But you have to lock in and have that right mindset and attack hitters.”

Peacock enters Monday having allowed just seven earned runs in his past six outings, going 5-0 in the process. The Astros pitching staff has the lowest starters’ ERA in the AL.

"Clicking on all cylinders right now with pitching," Peacock said last week. "That's what's important and it's working for us."

Phillies Lineup
1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Freddy Galvis, SS
3. Nick Williams RF
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Odubel Herrera, CF
6. Tommy Joseph, 1B
7. Andrew Knapp, C
8. Cameron Perkins, LF
9. Vince Velasquez, P
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Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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