PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago White Sox are going in different directions as they head into their final series before the All-Star break.
The Phillies, recently thought to be trade-deadline sellers like the White Sox, have played perhaps their best baseball of the season the past last two weeks. Philadelphia has won seven of 10 and now might be a buyer before the deadline.
Chicago (36-53) is in the cellar of the A.L. Central and will likely be a target for contending teams looking to add players for a late-season stretch drive.
The Phillies and White Sox got an unexpected Friday night off when rain postponed the opener of their weekend series. The game will be made up as part of a split doubleheader on Saturday with games starting at 3:05 and 8:15 p.m.
The weather is the only thing that has slowed the Phillies lately.
“Our batting average has been going up,” manager Charlie Manuel said Friday. “We’ve been improving as far as our offense, getting runners on base, things like that.”
Philadelphia, which won five straight NL East titles from 2007-2011, has won four of its last five series, including taking two of three against division leaders Atlanta and Pittsburgh. The Phillies entered Friday 7½ games behind the Braves in the NL East and need one win to get back to .500 for the first time since June 7.
White Sox left-hander John Danks (2-6, 4.31) will face right-hander Jonathan Pettibone (5-3, 3.84) in the doubleheader opener on Saturday. Chicago lefty Hector Santiago (3-5, 3.49) will take on Philadelphia’s John Lannan (2-3, 4.23) in the nightcap.
Manuel hopes the Phillies can carry their hot play into the All-Star break.
“It would be real good if we could win a series before we go into the break,” Manuel said. “It’s what we need to do, start winning series. If you do that every day, you’re right there, you’re sitting in good position.”
The White Sox began Friday with the third-worst record in baseball, and they trailed Detroit by 13 games in the AL Central. They will likely take a look at young players in the second half.
If that happens, manager Robin Ventura said winning won’t be sacrificed for development.
“You try to teach them the right way to do things,” Ventura said Friday. “Ultimately, it’s to win the game. They have to learn how to win and get better at the same time. That’s part of the process.”
One young player who has shown promise for the White Sox is Josh Phegley, who was called up last week and homered in three of his first five games. He hit the go-ahead grand slam in Thursday’s 6-3 victory over Detroit.
The Phillies also have been getting production from young players to climb within reach of playoff contention. Twenty-five year-old Ben Revere, who struggled at the start of the season, has batted .441 while hitting safely in 13 of his last 14 games. He raised his average from .200 on May 1 to .304.
Domonic Brown, who was selected to his first All-Star team, has been producing all season. He is hitting .281 with 23 homers and 64 RBIs after securing a job during spring training.
“I’m very proud of him,” Manuel said. “He’s come a long way. He made a big change. That’s what gave him a chance to play, but he’s the guy that did it. He’s learned a whole lot in the time he’s been here.
“He’s very deserving. He was determined. He was going to win a job (in spring training).”
The Phillies hope Brown continues to produce. Manuel knows he will need it and more from the rest of the roster.
“It takes a very good team to compete, to win a division, to go to the World Series,” Manuel said. “It takes a very solid baseball team.”
NOTES: The White Sox placed right-hander Brian Omogrosso on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to June 29, with a right triceps strain. . Chicago has lost 29 of 41 and is 17-32 on the road this season. . The Philliesare 5-4 in the all-time series against the White Sox and have won all three meetings at Citizens Bank Park.
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