Can Phils offense stay hot against Hudson?
Coming from Philly, where it felt like Thanksgiving football weather, I was struck by how muggy it was here. It is April and not July, right?
There is a chance for showers later, but it's supposed to be piping hot and sunny (between 86 and 88) the next two days. Charlie Manuel has a saying for those kids of days: "hittin' weather."
No matter the weather, the Phils have hit in the first week of the season.
Tied with Cincinnati for the best record out of the gate, the 5-1 Phils have scored 43 runs in their first six games - just over seven runs per game. Only the Reds and White Sox (with 45 runs each) have been more productive.
Recently-engaged first baseman Ryan Howard has led the charge: he's tied for 2nd in the NL in hitting (.480, is tied for first in RBIs (8, tied with teammate Placido Polanco, Scott Rolen and Pittsburgh's Neil Walker) and ranks third in OPS (1.340).
The good news for Howard? His bat warms up to both warm weather and Tim Hudson, who starts tonight for the Braves, opposite Cliff Lee.
Howard is 14-for-41 (.341) off Hudson with six home runs, nine walks and six strikeouts.
He's also not alone: Raul Ibanez is a lifetime .306 hitter vs. Hudson (15-for-49 with one home run and Ben Francisco, in an albeit limited window, is 2-for-3 off the Braves veteran right-hander.
Carlos Ruiz and Shane Victorino have also showed some pop vs. Hudson: Chooch has two home runs in 19 at-bats, Vic has two homers in 34 at-bats.
To his credit, Hudson wasn't bad at all overall against the Phillies last year: 2-1 with a 3.79 ERA in three starts. Coincidentally, Hudson also has a lifetime 3.79 ERA against the Phils, along with a 6-7 record in 18 starts.
But Hudson has also served up more home runs to the Phillies in his career, 15, than he has to any other major league team.
While some Phillies may go into tonight's first meeting between the two preseason NL East favorites confident and comfortable against Hudson, at least one hitter probably will not: Placido Polanco was plunked in the left elbow by a Hudson pitch here at Turner Field on April 21 last season.