National League Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, July 27th (All times Eastern)
Philadelphia Phillies (45-54) at Atlanta Braves (54-44), 7:35 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Philadelphia - Cole Hamels (11-4, 3.23) Atlanta - Ben Sheets (2-0, 0.00)
(Sports Network) - Fresh off signing his massive six-year, $144 million extension, Cole Hamels will take the hill in Atlanta, hoping to lead the streaking Philadelphia Phillies to a fifth straight win in the opener of a three-game set against the NL East rival Braves.
The contrast on the mound will be glaring as the high-priced Hamels will be squaring off with former All-Star Ben Sheets, who has yet to allow a run in his first two starts since returning from Tommy John surgery.
Hamels has been pitching with trade rumors swirling around him for months before signing his mega-deal to stay in Philadelphia earlier this week. The 2008 NLCS and World Series MVP gave up five runs and a season-high 10 hits over 7 2/3 innings in Saturday's 6-5, 10-inning loss to San Francisco.
"(The goal) here is to win and to win multiple championships," Hamels told the Phillies' website. "We got one in '08. As much as I did my part I'd still kind of like to do more. It's something to where it went too fast. And that's ultimately where I want to make it happen again, as many times as possible."
Doing that this season will be tough since the disappointing Phillies are 9 1/2 games behind Atlanta for the NL's second and final wild-card spot.
However, Philadelphia is finally healthy and some of the old mojo was back this week when the five-time defending NL East champions defeated Milwaukee 7-6 in 10 innings on Wednesday for their third straight walkoff win against the Brewers.
After blowing a four-run lead and trailing by one entering the 10th, Carlos Ruiz tied the game with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning and Jimmy Rollins followed with an RBI single as Philadelphia took a 7-6 win over the Milwaukee Brewers to earn it's first three-game sweep of the season.
"We had a rough game out there today, but we stuck with it," said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. "It looks like things are starting to turn around for us here."
The Braves, who are opening up a key 10-game homestand Friday, are coming off taking two of three in Miami, including a 7-1 win on Wednesday when Juan Francisco smoked a two-run home run and finished with three RBI.
"That's what we got him for," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said of Francisco. "To give Chipper (Jones) a day off every once in a while. I think between both of them they're in the high teens in home runs. That's a nice number to get from the corner spot."
Sheets allowed two hits in six shutout innings during a 6-1 win over the New York Mets in his first big league game in two years back on July 15. He followed that by giving up five hits in another six inning shutout performance in a 4-0 win over Washington on Saturday.
The former phenom is 2-4 with a 4.88 ERA in eight career starts against the Phillies.
Atlanta has taken four of six from Philadelphia so far this season.
07/27 10:53:27 ET