The Philadelphia Phillies (82-60) have 20 more games left in the regular season as they look to win their third division title and straighten out the back end of their bullpen. The Washington Nationals (50-93) are in Philadelphia to face the division leaders with the hopes of evaluating talent and playing the role of spoiler.
While the Phillies are in the driver's seat in the division with a magic number of 13, they have concerns about home field advantage and who is going to be their closer. The Phillies have the worst record for division leaders going into tonight's series but they are tied with the Cardinals in the loss column and have one more loss than the Dodgers. With a strong finish, the Phillies could still secure home field through the National League playoffs.
For that to happen, they need to find someone that can consistently save games. Brad Lidge has had command problems and continues to struggle in the role. Ryan Madson's numbers as a closer have been worse then Lidge's, and Brett Myers has not been given a chance to see if he can pick up where he left off in 2007. 20 games is not a lot of time to fix this problem.
Pitching Match Ups:
Other Quick Hits:
- The Phillies starters have the second lowest ERA (3.26) of any major league team since the All Star Break.
- The Phillies have the best record in the National League East against division opponents at 37-23.
- The Phillies have hit 27 homeruns against the Nationals this season. They have 204 as a team, the fifth time they have surpassed the 200 mark.
- The Phillies are 360-324 all time against the Nationals.
- They are 34-19 against Washington at Citizens Bank Park.
- The Phillies are 23-6 in their last 29 games against Washington.
Pitchers Scouting Report:
Nationals: Mock couldn't hold a 1-0 lead after an inning as
Philadelphia scored three runs in the top of the second. Jayson Werth
highlighted the scoring with an RBI single. Philadelphia made it a 4-1
game in the fifth, when Ryan Howard scored all the way from first on a
double by Raul Ibanez. Mock, who lasted five innings and gave up four
runs, has not looked good in his past two outings. He has kept the ball
up most of the time.
Phillies: Lee went 5-0 with a 0.68 ERA in his first five starts with the Phillies, but is 1-2 with a 9.60 ERA in his last three. He allowed 10 hits, five runs, four earned runs and struck out four in seven-plus innings Wednesday in a victory over the Nationals at Nationals Park. Lee suffered some bad luck in that game. A missed double play cost him a run in the seventh, and an error cost him a run in the eighth. Regardless, the Phillies are hoping Lee gets back on track against the same team that got 10 hits against him last week.
Nationals: Hernandez, the beneficiary of a lot of run support,
won his first game as a member of the Nationals this season last
Thursday. He pitched 7 1/3 innings and gave up two runs on six hits. It
was Hernandez's first win for Washington since Aug. 1, 2006.
Phillies: Blanton hopes to return to form after struggling Thursday in a loss to the Nationals at Nationals Park. He allowed seven hits and eight runs in 4 2/3 innings. "I [stunk]," Blanton said. Blanton had been much better for several months. He was 7-3 with a 2.59 ERA in 18 starts from May 26 through Sept. 5. His ERA ranked eighth best in the Majors and sixth best in the NL in that stretch. His 11 consecutive quality starts before Thursday were a career high. The problem Thursday? Simple: command. He threw hanging breaking balls and fastballs over the heart of the plate, and the Nationals didn't miss.
Nationals: Martin turned in another quality performance against
the Marlins on Friday. Five days after taking a no-decision in a 5-4
Nationals win, the right-hander earned a victory by holding Florida to
two runs on two hits over five innings while striking out four and
walking four. Martin has now won two of his last four starts and
pitched five or more innings in his last seven outings.
Phillies: Hamels has pitched very well in three of his past four starts, having allowed one run in 6 2/3 innings against the Mets on Monday. The left-hander did not have his best fastball, instead relying on changeups and curveballs. His one recent blip was a six-inning, four-run performance against the Pirates on Sept. 1. Still, Hamels is 3-1 with a 1.51 ERA since Aug. 26. He has struck out 28 and walked six over those 29 2/3 innings.
The Atlanta Braves host a weekend series at Turner Field for an N.L. East showdown this weekend.