Good afternoon from Shea Stadium.
The skies are blue and the sun is shining and the temperature is in the 80's, which is a far cry from the setting when we last visited here in early April.
One thing that isn't different is the fact that Cole Hamels won't be on the mound. A lot of readers have emailed me asking why the Phillies haven't gone out of their way to make sure the lefty pitches against the Mets. He's had just one outing against them. Johan Santana, meanwhile, will be making his third appearance against the Phils tonight.
Bill Conlin disagrees with the set-up, which you can read all about here.
The Phillies have said they wanted to make sure they got Hamels enough rest over the All-Star break. He was leading the NL in innings at the break, and he's had some injury history, so that was probably the leading concern. No doubt they wanted to get Jamie Moyer an appearance at Shea, where he has pitched very well over the course of his career. And Joe Blanton hasn't allowed a run in 15 career innings against the Metropolitans, so that makes sense. But Bill thinks they still should have found a way to get their ace lefty on the hill against their leading competition for the division.
Now, about Blanton. . .
I'm sure there isn't a Phillies fan out there who isn't interestested to see how he does tonight. He's pitched well in two lifetime appearances against the Mets, one in 2005 and one in 2007. The Phillies haven't set many expectations for Blanton, at least publicly, other than his reputation for eating up innings. It'll be interesting to see how he fits in here.