Phillies / Reds Series Preview

The Phillies are not satisfied with their performance in Anaheim. After dropping two close games to the World Champions, Larry Bowa and the team want more. The Phillies showed they could play with the big boys, but still need to put all the pieces of the puzzle together to string together a solid winning streak. The perfect chance to begin that streak comes during a hiatus from Interleague Play against the Cincinnati Reds.

This series is crucial. After taking two of three from the Oakland Athletics at Veterans Stadium last weekend the Phils then dropped two games in an intense series against the Anaheim Angels. When Larry Bowa woke up, he found his team ten games behind the Braves and the time is now to make up some of that ground.

Philadelphia will now make it's second trip to Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati to take on a Reds club that holds a .500 record and the major league leader in home runs, Adam Dunn. This series will be a perfect measuring stick to find out just how good Phillies pitching really is.

Kevin Millwood will go for his ninth win of the season on Friday night, and he hopes to cool off the Reds lineup that is loaded with power. Jimmy Haynes will take the hill for the Reds in game one, and is still seeking his first win of 2003.

This game is important for Pat Burrell as he is still mired in the worst slump of his big league career. It's possible that a combination of the flu bug and Larry Bowa's unhappiness with his left fielder could leave Burrell on the bench, but then again, Haynes may just be the guy to bring him out of this slump.

Randy Wolf will be on the mound in game two for the Phightins and he hopes to carry the momentum from a hot start, into this weekend. The Phillies have the best one-two punch in the majors and that should help this team take two of three from the Reds. Vicente Padilla will take the hill in the rubber match and he needs a good outing in order to prove that he is back to the form that earned him a trip to last season's All-Star Game. I may be alone on this, but I really think that the Phillies may need to consider sending him to triple A in order to correct what has been ailing him all season long. Of course, a good outing would go a long way toward putting Padilla on the comeback trail.

With the Reds pitchers struggling this season, and the series taking place in a pure hitters ballpark, this weekend may be the sparkplug this team needs. Jim Thome is coming around, after hitting home runs in both the Oakland and Anaheim series, but he needs to provide more consistency and that should come as the season moves along. Jimmy Rollins is not happy with himself, and neither is Larry Bowa after his weak bunt attempt on Tuesday night. J-Roll must get on base and start stealing bases so this team can be the squad many teams once feared on the basepaths.

This weekend should be entertaining for the fans. The Phillies have a chance to repeat their thirteen run inning they put together in April, and who knows what kind of power the likes of Jim Thome, Bobby Abreu, Adam Dunn and Ken Griffey Jr. will produce in this homer happy park. So sit back, relax and enjoy a weekend of old time baseball.

Prediction:

The Phillies will finally find the offensive consistency that they've sought since April. After seeing what the team can do against Anaheim, momentum should be on their side going up against a slightly lesser opponent. Look for Phillies pitching to be successful and lead the way to a series victory. Philly will take two of three this weekend.


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