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Phillies Head Out West

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBC10Philadelphia.com

    As a baseball fan, one of my least favorite things to do is having to stay up late in order to watch the Phillies, thanks in part to the late start times of the west coast games. It throws my whole week off, because I go to bed late, I wake up tired, and then my whole day is filled with regret because I couldn't be bothered to record the game and watch the last two innings in the morning.

    But enough about my hangups, let's talk about the Phillies, who are going to embark on their toughest stretch of the young season: A ten-game, west coast road trip against the San Francisco Giants, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the San Diego Padres that will test their ability to compete on the road, it will also test their ability to score runs, as they will come up against some fine pitching.

    The test starts on Monday night, when they face off against Giants Ace Tim Lincecum, who despite some early troubles this season, is as tough an opponent as there is in the game. It will also be a rematch of games one and four of the 2010 National League Championship Series, as he will be opposed by Phillies Ace Roy Halladay.

    Tuesday's matchup isn't much easier, as it pits them against young lefty Madison Bumgarner, who, at 22-years-old, is one of the better southpaws in the game. And to wrap up the series? None other than Matt Cain, the right-hander who recently signed a long-term extension with the Giants, that should serve as a baseline for what Cole Hamels should receive on the open market.

    In other words, it's going to be a very tough series. While the Giants aren't exactly the class of the division, and despite the fact that they don't sport the league's most robust offense, that doesn't mean they should be taken lightly, even if the Phillies are going to send two of their Aces, Halladay and Lee, to the hill during the series.

    Added to the mix is the fact that the Phillies don't seem to play that well in San Francisco. Aside from last season, where they nearly swept the Giants in AT&T Park, it's been not-so-good times for the Phillies, who always seem to struggle in that stadium.

    It'd be the worst possible time for them to hit the skids, given that they haven't exactly gotten a fast start here in 2012. Of course, it's way early, so it wouldn't be the end of the world if they falter a bit here. Still, though, some wins would be nice.

    However, if there is one thing the Phillies have going for them in this series, it's the fact that baseball is as random as it gets, and the bleakest games can  have the best results, because sometimes the light-hittingest teams can come up big against an Ace. In this case, both teams are light-hitting, and both teams are sending Aces to the mound, so I would fully expect for the bottom third of each lineups to combine to have seven or eight RBIs.

    In seriousness, it's the biggest test of the young season for the Phillies. They faltered against the Pittsburgh Pirates to open the season by losing a series they should have won, and they are coming off a near-sweep at the hands of the New York Mets, so a quick start against the Giants is going to be crucial if they want to leave the west coast with a winning record.