Photo: Philliedelphia/Steve Trapani
The Phillies won their third series of the season yesterday as Joe Blanton was freaking phenomenal against the Braves. A three-hit shutout? I don't know where it came from, but I loved it. Anyway, the Phillies won't play the Braves again until July 6-8, so we'll get back to them later.
Tonight, the Phillies and all of their fans are INVADING Nationals Park, yet again. No Mike Rizzo, your "Take Back the Park" campaign isn't going to work. We Philly fans are still going to out number, out cheer, and out fan your fans.
This may be one of the most important series the Phillies will play this far. The Nationals are in first place and are playing good baseball while the Phillies, who have been on a rough patch all April, are still trying to remain the power house in the NL East. This series will be intense, thanks to our kick ass fans. It's going to be interesting.
Kyle Kendrick (0-2, 6.59 ERA) will lead the fourth place Phillies against the first place Nationals. Kendrick is making his third start in place of the injured Cliff Lee, who could return as early as next week as long as no setbacks occur. Kendrick has not been effective in his three previous starts, lasting just 11 innings and allowing 9 earned runs.
In his last start, Kendrick bounced back from a hideous outing against Arizona as he managed to allow two earned runs over 6 innings of work against the Cubs. Despite receiving the loss, Kendrick didn't allow 7 earned runs in three innings. So it's an improvement. In his career, Kendrick is 2-3 with a 5.46 ERA against the Nationals.
Opposing Kendrick and facing the Phils' lineup is Stephen Strasburg (2-0, 1.13 ERA). Yes, the same Stephen Strasburg who throws 101 MPH, the same Stephen Strasburg who has allowed four earned runs over 32 innings this season, and the same Stephen Strasburg who injured his throwing elbow against the Phillies which resulted in Tommy John surgery. Yeah, that Stephen Strasburg.
Anyway, this guy is freaking scary. He's off to a great start and has been dominate in every start he's made thus far. In his last outing, he tossed seven strong innings against the Dodgers where he allowed one earned run on five hits whilst striking out 9. Strasburg has been effective with his high-heat fastball and his crippling breaking pitches. Strasburg's only made one start against the Phils, the one where he injured his elbow. He's 0-0 with a 2.08 ERA in 4 1/3 IP.
Another National we've barely seen – actually never seen – is the famed Bryce Harper. I'm not going to lie, this kid is a machine. He's all that's advertised and maybe more. I know it sounds bad coming from a Phillies fan, but this kid has a bright future granted he remains healthy. Harper is batting .313 (5-16) with 3 RBI in five games in the big leagues and recently went 3-4 with 2 doubles at home. It's going to be interesting watching Harper taking on Kendrick. I wonder what will happen.
As for the Phillies' bats. They've been scoring runs of late. No, really. They scored 21 runs in three games against the Braves, moving them up to 13-13 on the year. Yesterday, Jimmy Rollins scored the first run in the first inning and that's all they needed. But they scored three insurance runs anyway – just for shits and giggles.
Oh, and Nats fans: YOU CAN'T STOP US!
(Photo Courtesy of The700Level.com)
Tonight's Lineup @ Washington:
TV: TCN ; Radio: 1210 WPHT, 94 WIP.
Erik Seybold is a Contributor for Philliedelphia. Contact him on Twitter @ErikSeyboldPHI.