Sometimes I wonder if my enthusiasm for interleague play has been influenced by what seems to be a shortcoming for the Phillies. It seems the Phillies are awful in interleague play every time it comes around, and thanks to the new format in baseball we get to have this torture dragging throughout the season rather than get it in one, two or three lump sums.
It's not quite a reach. The Phillies have an all-time winning record against just three teams in the American League; Texas Rangers (6-3), Chicago White Sox (5-4) and Cleveland Indians (6-5 after dropping two games the past two nights). It looked pretty clear that the last two nights the Phillies did not belong on the same field as the Indians, who improved to 12-13 as a result after bashing the Phillies to the combined score of 20-2 with Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee taking the mound. Say what you will about pitchers getting unlucky in some spots (some of that is fair to suggest), but the pitching came up small from start to finish in Cleveland. Perhaps more frustrating was another two nights of poor base running and lack of offense when needed the most.
I had been waiting through the sometimes painful month of April for the return of catcher Carlos Ruiz. I also wanted to see what would happen once Delmon Young arrived in the lineup. With that I still believe it is too early to cast any real judgments on the offense this season because those players both made their debuts this week and have played in a combined five games. I feel confident Ruiz will be OK after a rough start to his 2013 season and I'm curious about Young's production moving forward. But that doesn't mean we can't assess what is going on around the rest of the team, which now sits with a record of 12-16 (one win worse than their 2012 pace).
The Phillies open up a four-game home series against the Miami Marlins tonight. The Marlins are a pitiful team, at 8-20 as they arrive in Philadelphia for the first time this season. But you do not have to look back far to see how tough the Marlins played the Phillies already. Last month the Phillies took two of three in Miami but the offense struggled mightily and scored just six runs in the weekend series. Will we see that same kind of fight against one of baseball's worst teams?
This will be a good opportunity to see if the Phillies can turn things around before getting back on the road for a west coast trip to San Francisco and Arizona. But even if the Phillies doe pick up three or four wins against the Marlins, what will they prove? To date the Phillies are 5-12 against teams with a winning record and 7-4 against teams with a losing record. Based on the sample size available this tells us that the Phillies are average, at best. Will that turn around with Ruiz and Delmon Young regularly in the lineup? Maybe. We'll see.
To be fair though, the Phillies are also .500 in interleague play against the Detroit Tigers (6-6), Minnesota Twins (6-6), New York Yankees (12-12) and Oakland Athletics (6-6).