Aces dealing in Philly

Will the Ozzie Guillen firestorm affect the players on the field? It sure didn’t on Monday night as Miami (2-3) beat the Phillies, 6-2, in their home opener thanks to strong pitching from Anibal Sanchez and two solo homers by Omar Infante.

The Phils have scored eight runs and are hitting .198 en route to a 1-3 start. The Phillies also have had their leadoff hitter reach base just six times in 37 innings.

That offense desperately misses second baseman Chase Utley (return unknown) and first baseman Ryan Howard (likely out until June, at least). For example, Utley’s replacement, Freddy Galvis, is hitting .077. And the Philly first basemen are 2-for-16 with no homers or RBI. The Phils have just four extra-base hits so far (three doubles, one homer), their fewest through four games since 1990, when they finished 77-85 and 22nd out of 26 teams in scoring. And it’s their fewest runs scored through four games since 1997, when they finished 68-94 and 26th out of 28 teams in scoring.

It’s not clear if young Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton will play Wednesday. He was scratched about 40 minutes before Monday’s game with a sore knee that had bothered him this spring. Guillen didn’t rule out Stanton being available on Wednesday as Stanton is officially day-to- day. The off day should help him in that regard. Stanton, Miami’s cleanup hitter, is off to a 4-for- 17 (.235) start with a double and three RBI. Austin Kearns replaced Stanton in right field and homered in the ninth inning Monday.

Marlins left fielder Logan Morrison got Monday off but it was just a rest day as he had knee surgery this winter, but he should be back in the lineup Wednesday.

 Starting Pitchers

It’s a great matchup of two of the NL’s top right-handers as the Phillies’ Roy Halladay (1-0, 0.00) opposes Miami’s Josh Johnson (0-1, 4.50).

Halladay actually wasn’t great this spring but looked like his two-time Cy Young self in last Thursday’s 1-0 victory over Pittsburgh at PNC Park. He allowed just two hits and struck out five in eight scoreless innings. “Doc” started three times vs. the Marlins last year, going 0-1 with a 3.00 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 21 innings. He is 4-3 in his career against the Marlins, including a perfect game in 2010. Halladay was 8-3 with a 2.48 ERA at home in 2011.

Johnson was a bit off in the opener against the Cardinals, allowing three runs on a career-high- tying 10 hits in six innings. He struck out just four as his control was a little wild. Johnson started once vs. the Phils last year and got a no-decision despite allowing just one run on six hits and striking out seven over seven innings. He is 5-3 with a 3.16 ERA in his career vs. Philadelphia.


The Phillies opened as -155 favorites with the total at 6.5 on MLB odds. Miami is 4-1 in Johnson’s past five road starts vs. the Phillies. However, Florida has won just two of its past nine at Citizens Bank Park. Dating to last year, Philadelphia is 1-9 in its past 10 home games and 2-10 in its past 12 games after a loss. The Phillies are 7-0 in Halladay’s past seven home starts vs. teams with a losing record.


Without the left-handed hitting Utley and Howard, the Phils are going to have problems against power right-handers like Johnson. In fact, the Phillies are just 1-6 in their past seven games vs. a righty dating to last year.

It’s hard to go against Halladay, but that’s pretty good value with Johnson at +145 on the mound for Miami because if he’s on he is more unhittable than Halladay. And I don’t think the Phillies are ready to hit yet. So take Miami and the ‘under’ as the Fish win one for Ozzie.

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