ATLANTA – The good news for the Phillies: Giants slugger Barry Bonds is hitting .237 against the Phillies starters he will face in the next four games.
The bad news: He has 12 homers among his 23 hits off Adam Eaton, Jamie Moyer and Jon Lieber; he has never faced Cole Hamels.
The worst news: Bonds, 12 homers shy of Hank Aaron's record of 755, has heated up. In his last 15 games, he had hit seven of his eight homers, driven in 13 of his 17 runs, scored 15 of his 18 runs and, of course, drawn 17 of his 23 walks. Not coincidentally, the Giants were 10-5 in those games.
The Phillies' strategy?
"We're going right at him," manager Charlie Manuel said.
Then he laughed.
"He's been hot," Manuel said, no longer delusional. "Any time – even when no one's on base; even when he's not hot – he puts a decision in your mind every time he goes to the plate. How you're going to pitch him, what you're going to do. When he's hot, that creates even more of a problem."
Bonds entered last night tied with Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard with nine intentional walks. Bonds will get some more in this series.
"You definitely don't want to pitch to him when there's a man on base," Manuel said. "There's times when you have to: with bases loaded. If you've got a big enough lead, you can pitch to him. We'll monitor every one of his at-bats."
With no lefthanded specialist in the bullpen - ineffective Matt Smith was sent to Triple A on Saturday - Moyer and Hamels might find themselves left in for an extra inning to face Bonds if they prove effective against him early.
"It could be," Manuel said. "The situation in the game will determine that."
The availability of Ryan Madson and Tom Gordon could determine that, too. Bonds is 0-for-3 against Madson and 0-for-2 against Gordon, and 2-for-4 against both Antonio Alfonseca and Brett Myers, who allowed Bonds a homer. *