Trailing The Fish
Following an NL East title last season, the Philadelphia Phillies were expected by many to make another playoff run in 2008. They've gotten off to a strong start, but find themselves trailing the upstart Florida Marlins.
The Phillies look to extend their season-high winning streak to five games and jump past the Marlins for the division lead when they meet for the first time this season Friday at Citizens Bank Park.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Philadelphia -150 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for tonight's game, the over/under has been set at 10.5 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 64% of bets for this game have been placed on Philadelphia -150 (View MLB Bet Percentages).
Led by NL MVP Jimmy Rollins, Philadelphia (31-24) surged to the division title last season, winning four of their last five games to finish 89-73, one game ahead of New York. They went on to be swept by Colorado in the division series.
Florida (30-22) finished fifth in the East last season at 71-91, but the resurgent Marlins own a half-game lead over Philadelphia this year.
The Phillies and Marlins boast two of the top offenses in the NL, as Philadelphia is second with 293 runs and Florida has 254. The Phillies also lead the majors with 79 home runs, while the Marlins are second with 76.
Philadelphia has been especially hot swinging the bats of late, scoring 48 runs during its four-game winning streak.
"It's obviously a good lineup,'' said Phillies outfielder Geoff Jenkins, who's 6-for-12 with two home runs, six RBIs and five runs in his last three games. "It's fun to be a part of. We can basically put anyone in there and get the job done."
Second baseman Chase Utley hit his major league-best 17th homer in Wednesday's 6-1 win over Colorado, and is 6-for-16 (.375) with three home runs and 13 RBIs during the win streak.
The Marlins also boast one of the best second baseman in the majors, as Dan Uggla is batting .307 with 16 home runs.
Uggla is 1-for-9 with five strikeouts in his last two games, though, and has really struggled against Philadelphia. He hit .188 with three home runs and seven RBIs in 17 games against the Phillies last season, and is batting .145 with two homers and six RBIs in 18 career games at Citizens Bank Park.
Uggla, however, is 7-for-18 (.389) with two homers and a triple against Brett Myers (2-6, 5.79), Friday's scheduled starter.
Myers is 0-5 with a 6.92 ERA in his last seven starts. The right-hander, who also lost five straight decisions from June 22-July 23, 2004, has dropped a career-high four straight starts with an 8.02 ERA in those outings.
On Saturday, the right-hander gave up four runs, eight hits and a season-high four walks in six innings of a 4-3 defeat to the Astros.
"Right now, things just aren't going good for him," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel told the team's official Web site. "Luck definitely counts in this game and he's not getting any. He'll come out of it."
Myers went 0-2 with two saves and a 10.13 ERA in seven games - one start - versus the Marlins last season. He's 5-6 with a 4.79 ERA in 18 starts against them.
Florida lost 7-6 in 12 innings to the New York Mets on Wednesday, their fifth defeat in the last six road games.
The Marlins will send Mark Hendrickson (7-2, 4.14) to the mound Friday. The left-hander allowed five runs and a season-high nine hits Sunday to win his second straight start, 8-6 over San Francisco. Hendrickson, though, has pitched only five innings in each of his last three starts.
In his only career start against Philadelphia on July 17, Hendrickson was pounded for seven runs and 11 hits, lasting just three innings in a 15-3 loss.
The Phillies and Marlins split their 18 meetings last season, with Philadelphia going 6-3 at Citizens Bank Park.
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