Manchester, NH --- The Reading Fightin Phils (45-64) make the final stop of their nine-game road trip in New Hampshire to take on the Fisher Cats (52-58) for the start of a five-game series. First pitch in game one of the series from Northeast Delta Dental Stadium is set for 7:05pm tonight. The Fightins are 10-6 against the Fisher Cats this season (7-3 at home, 3-3 on the road).
The Fightins narrowly lost three of four games to start the road trip in Portland as the first place Sea Dogs were given everything they could handle. In a series that was low scoring with only 15 runners to cross home plate, the Fightins and Sea Dogs managed just six runs apiece through the first three games. The Fightins had outhit Portland heading into Thursdays game. The Fightins scored a first inning run yesterday thanks to a Kelly Dugan RBI base hit, and then the bats went to sleep. Reading managed just one hit and still held a 1-0 lead into the eighth inning, but Portland scored two runs with their tenth hit of the afternoon to win the game and the series.
In tonight's game the Fightins will send out Hoby Milner (6-5, 4.60 ERA) for his 20th start of the season. Milner is coming off of another strong outing his last time out against the Akron RubberDucks in which he tossed six innings allowing just one run on four hits with four strikeouts. Milner is 1-2 against the Fisher Cats this season in three starts with a 5.82 ERA and eight strikeouts. Milner, ironically enough, made the first start of July against these Fisher Cats and will make the final start of the month against them tonight.
The lefty John Anderson (3-3, 4.43 ERA) is making his sixth start for the Fisher Cats in his 26th appearance. Anderson's five starts have all come in July and like Milner, he began the month against the Fightins and will end the month against them. That game on July 1st against Reading was his first of the season and John threw four 2/3 innings allowing two runs on four hits with a strikeout. In his previous start in Harrisburg, Anderson went a season long six innings allowing three runs, two earned, on six hits with seven strikeouts.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Starting with the Fisher Cats bats. They are hitting .240 against the Fightins this season and are led by two guys. Jon Berti is hitting .340 against Reading in 13 games with four extra base hits, four RBIs, and nine runs scored. Berti is hitting .378 over his last ten games, going 4-for-5 last night against the Binghamton Mets with two doubles and two runs. Berti is also third in the Eastern League with 33 stolen bases.
The other guy for New Hampshire is Mike McDade who is hitting .433 against the Fightins this year in seven games with two homeruns, seven RBIs, and five runs scored. McDade is hitting just .211 over his last ten games.
For the Fightins have five guys hitting .300 or better against New Hampshire this season. KC Serna (hitting .500 with two RBI & a run) and Peter Lavin (hitting .364 with a double, triple, & four runs) have only played in three games against the Fisher Cats, but have done an excellent job. Serna is hitting .314 over his last ten games and .315 in his 21 games as a Fightin Phil.
Albert Cartwright is hitting .304 against New Hampshire in 13 games played with a double, a homer, four RBIs, and seven runs scored. He has also stolen five bases. Kelly Dugan is hitting exactly .300 against New Hampshire this year in six games with two doubles, four RBIs, and three runs scored.
Brock Stassi has hit .309 in 15 games against the Fisher Cats this season with three doubles, a triple, two homeruns, nine runs scored, and ten RBIs.
The Fightins bullpen has done an excellent job against the Fisher Cats this year (5-1 with a 1.26 ERA for all those who have not started). They are led by Colton Murray who has been lights out in his four appearances against New Hampshire. Murray has allowed just three hits in six 1/3 innings with seven strikeouts.
The Fightin Phils return to FirstEnergy Stadium on Monday, August 4th for the start of a seven game homestand. Savage 61 Fightins VIP Club plans, group tickets, and single game tickets can be purchased online at Fightins.com, by phone at 610-370-BALL, or by visiting the FirstEnergy Stadium Ticket Office.