Philadelphia has the advantage heading into Game 2 of the National League Division Series. 

Winning pitcher Roy Halladay turned in a stellar effort against St. Louis in the opener but it was the Phillies offense that stole the show giving the NL East champions a big Game 1 victory. The first six hitters in the Phillies lineup went 13 for 25 including home runs from Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez. Runs might be a little harder to come by tonight at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia where veterans Chris Carpenter (11-9, 3.45 ERA) and Cliff Lee (17-8, 2.40 ERA) are scheduled to meet. MLB odds for this game opened at Phillies -170 with the total at 7. First pitch is slated for 8:30 PM ET.

Carpenter will be making his first career start on three days’ rest and he’ll be hard pressed to top his last outing when he held Houston to a pair of hits while striking out 11 in a complete game victory. The former Cy Young Award winner is 7-2 lifetime against the Phillies and has won five straight against them. He’s 2-0 this season and in 15 innings has allowed just one run for an ERA of 0.60.

Lee will try to extend the Phillies six game NLDS winning streak when he takes the hill for Charlie Manuel’s team. The 33-year old lefthander is 3-1 in his career against the Cardinals including a 1-1 record and 1.76 ERA this season. In his last effort against St. Louis on June 22, Lee twirled a complete game six hitter in a 4-0 win. Prior to getting roughed up twice by the Giants in last year’s World Series, Lee was putting up some incredible postseason numbers. As it stands, he’s still done some impressive work during the month of October. He’s made 10 combined playoff appearances over the last two seasons going 7-2 with a 2.13 ERA.

Landslide 

In Saturday’s series opener, The Philadelphia Phillies rallied for an 11-6 victory. Winning pitcher Roy Halladay allowed a three-run homer in the first inning to Lance Berkman but nothing after that. The doctor worked eight innings, giving up three runs and three hits with eight strikeouts. The Philadelphia offense exploded against losing pitcher Kyle Lohse and four relievers. Shane Victorino and Chase Utley each had three of the Phils’ 14 hits while Howard finished with four runs batted in. 

Pressure 

The Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals series carries an interesting dynamic. Philadelphia was never headed during the regular season as they cruised to their fifth straight division title and winning 102 games. But to a man players admit that anything short of winning another World Series would be considered a major disappointment if not a downright failure.

The Cardinals (90-72) won six of nine against Philadelphia during the season, with two of those wins coming right after the Phillies wrapped up the division. St. Louis was 3-1 at Citizens Bank Park.

On the other hand, the Cards snuck in to the playoffs after a majestic meltdown by the Braves. Atlanta led the wild card race by 10.5 games on August 25, but was edged out on the final day by St. Louis. The Cardinals closed the year on a 23-8 run while the Phillies swept the Braves to wrap up the regular season.

Trends

Six of the nine meetings between the two teams played to the ‘under’ this season. Philadelphia is 16-5-1 to the ‘under’ in its last 22 games while the ‘over’ is 9-2-2 in its last 13 home playoff games. Tonight’s weather forecast is calling for 30 degree temperatures with a 30 percent chance of rain. 

Harvey’s Take

Carpenter on three day’s rest is the great unknown in this game. He’s never done it and if he’s the least bit off the Phillies will make him pay. Meanwhile this is Lee’s time to shine and even at a price of $1.60 or more he gets my money tonight. My MLB pick is to take the Phillies.

Good luck!