The Dodgers, who struggled for most of May, have now won three straight series, but they face the toughest test of their current 10-game road trip beginning Monday night in Philadelphia against the best team in the National League. Tonight's game features a battle of former Montreal Expos southpaws, as Ted Lilly starts for the Dodgers against Cliff Lee for the Phillies. The Dodgers have had a horrible recent history in Philadelphia.
In 2008, the Dodgers were swept in four games in Philadelphia in August, then lost the first two games of the NLCS in the City of Brotherly Love in a series the Phillies would win in five games. In 2009, the Dodgers actually beat the Phillies two out of three in Philly, and had home field advantage in their NLCS rematch, but the Phillies captured all three home games to win their second straight pennant. Last year, the Dodgers were on the verge of capturing their three-game regular season series, holding a 9-2 lead in the eighth inning, only to lose 10-9. Including the playoffs, the Dodgers are 3-12 in Philadelphia during the last three seasons.
Lilly has been pitching well of late, with three straight quality starts. In those three outings, Lilly has a 2.70 ERA and just two walks and 15 strikeouts in 20 innings. Lilly has pitched at least six innings in each of his last seven starts. Lilly's strikeout-to-walk ratio of 4.08 is fifth in the National League, but his opponent tonight is second in the league.
Lee has 90 strikeouts and 19 walks in 80 innings this season, though his raw numbers are a relatively normal 4-5 with a 3.94 ERA. Lee is coming off one of his worst starts of the season, in which he allowed six runs in 5 1/3 innings in a loss to Washington. Including the playoffs, Lee has faced the Dodgers twice in his career, and has allowed just one run in 15 1/3 innings.
The Dodgers are fortunate this series in that they miss Roy Halladay, but there are no off days facing the Phillies, as the Dodgers have to face Lee, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels. If the Dodgers are to win their fourth straight series, it will be their most impressive feat of the season. The Dodgers are expected to activate Juan Uribe, Marcus Thames, and Blake Hawksworth during this series, perhaps as soon as tonight for all three.
Tonight's 4:05 p.m. PDT game will be televised by KCAL and ESPN. For more news and information on the Dodgers, or on tonight's game, be sure to read the SB Nation blog True Blue LA.