Inside the Phillies: Red Sox vs. Phillies will be fun, but it won't predict anything

Terry Francona and his Red Sox come to Citizens Bank Park this week for a showdown between baseball's two best teams.
Terry Francona and his Red Sox come to Citizens Bank Park this week for a showdown between baseball's two best teams. (GENE J. PUSKAR / Associated Press)
Posted: June 26, 2011

The Red Sox are coming! The Red Sox are coming!

There was a time when Phillies president David Montgomery would have dressed in colonial garb, ridden a brown horse through Center City, and shouted those words from the top of his lungs if he thought it would help fill all the empty seats that captured the ambience of Veterans Stadium.

This week, Montgomery and the Phillies can sit back and let it all be.

ESPN and the rest of the media outlets will happily carry the lantern that announces the biggest event of the baseball season.

Starting Tuesday, the Phillies and Boston Red Sox will meet in a three-game interleague series at Citizens Bank Park, and if the majority of baseball prognosticators are correct - a rare event, indeed - then these teams will meet again in the World Series.

"It's a good challenge," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "Like I said in spring training, I think the Red Sox are the best team in baseball. It's going to be two good teams playing against each other, and hopefully we're up for the challenge."

Record-wise, the Phillies held the distinction of being the best team in baseball heading into their weekend series with the Oakland A's. But the Red Sox were close behind after rapidly recovering from a 2-10 start.

The Red Sox have the best offense in baseball.

The Phillies have the best starting rotation even though they have lost one of their aces (Roy Oswalt) to a serious back injury.

Any time a team with as much history and talent as the Red Sox comes to town, it makes for a supercharged atmosphere. This should be fun, but it should not be misconstrued as a measuring stick for either team.

"I guess it could be, but so many things change from now until July, September, and October," Amaro said. "The team they face today and the team they face later on down the road could be much different."

Proof of that can be found by looking at the Phillies' last two seasons.

In 2009, the Phillies made a late May trip to Yankee Stadium as the defending World Series champions and took two out of three in the Bronx. It was a great time for Phillies fans. It wasn't a sign of things to come, even though the Phillies made the more significant deadline trade by adding Cliff Lee to their starting rotation.

The Phillies won the regular-season series because Brett Myers pitched like an ace in the opening game and Raul Ibanez was one of the hottest hitters in baseball.

Conversely, Alex Rodriguez was hitting .189 at the end of the three-game series after getting a late start because of hip surgery. Hideki Matsui looked like an old man in decline, and A.J. Burnett was sporting a 5.28 ERA.

By the time the teams met again in the World Series, A-Rod and Matsui were swinging white-hot bats (Matsui won the MVP award) and Burnett won a pivotal Game 2 at Yankee Stadium after New York was shut down by Lee in the opening game of the series.

A year ago, the San Francisco Giants made a mid-August trip into Philadelphia as a slumping team. When they lost the first two games of the series, they were six games behind San Diego and in serious danger of not even making the playoffs.

Barry Zito started the first game of that series and was knocked out after five innings. By the time the teams met again in the National League Championship Series, he wasn't even on San Francisco's playoff roster.

Cody Ross didn't join the Giants until three days after that regular-season series with the Phillies was over, and we all remember his role in the 2010 NLCS.

Rookie catcher Buster Posey was San Francisco's No. 2 hitter in the regular-season series, but he graduated to the cleanup spot in time for the postseason.

Even though the Phillies are considered a better-pitching team, the Red Sox could have the advantage in this week's three-game series.

Josh Beckett, Boston's best pitcher, will start Tuesday against Lee, the Phillies' hottest pitcher, in what figures to be the marquee game of the series.

John Lackey will pitch for Boston on Wednesday while the Phillies will have to counter with Vance Worley.

Jon Lester will pitch the series finale for Boston, and the Phillies will have the option of pitching either Kyle Kendrick or Cole Hamels.

Regardless, the Red Sox will not see Roy Halladay, and you can rest assured they'd see him at least once, probably twice, and maybe even a third time in the World Series.

Yes, this is going to be a fun series between Boston and Philadelphia, two historic towns with rabid fan bases. It just won't mean anything come October.


Contact staff writer Bob Brookover at bbrookover@phillynews.com or @brookob on Twitter

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|