The Phillies' winning streak snapped Saturday night and their new losing streak began yesterday when they lost 5-1 to Boston. That series is over and it's time to look forward. The Phillies will be home for the next three days before embarking on a seven-game road trip. Tonight, they open up their second series of the season with the Washington Nationals.
For the last five years, the Phillies have ruled the NL East with an iron fist while the cellar dwelling Nationals sat by and watched. Well it's not 2008 any more and we all know that with time comes building, and for the Nationals. They're ready to compete. In the last series between the Phillies and Nats, controversy surrounded Cole Hamels and Bryce Harper. That B.S. is done and over with – we hope. IF there is going to be any B.S. in this series, it will be started by the Nationals and will be most likely during the series finale – the day Cole Hamels pitches. But we'll wait for that.
Tonight, Kyle Kendrick (0-3, 5.96 ERA) will make his fifth spot start of the year, his second for Vance Worley, who is on the DL. Kendrick has not been the Phillies' knight in shining armor this year, but he has pitched a few good, winnable games. Besides giving up seven runs against the D-backs and five runs against the Mets, Kendrick has thrown the ball well enough to earn the win. But with a deflated offense, it only gives him a loss and more un-deserved hate. In Kendrick's last outing, he tossed six innings of one-run ball against Chicago, allowing just three hits while striking out four Cubs. Kendrick got the no-decision, but the Phillies went on to win 9-2 after a breakout 9th inning.
K.K. has faced the Nats before this season. Back on May 4th, he tossed five 0ne-run frames against the Nationals in a game that the Phillies would end up losing. Kendrick has a 2-3 record and a 5.19 ERA lifetime against the Nats.
The Nationals will bring their "Natitude" up North for this series as they plan to keep their winning going after 5-5 in their last 10 played. The second place Nats sit 1 1/2 games behind the Braves and 4 1/2 games above the last place Phillies.
Tonight, they'll send out lefty Gio Gonzales (5-1, 2.22 ERA) as they look to strike first in Philly. Gonzalez has been solid all season for Washington. He leads the league in strikeouts with 60 and sits 8th among the NL ERA leaders. In his last start, Gonzalez yielded three earned on four hits over seven frames against the Pirates. Along with two walks, he struck out a season-high 10 batters. Back on May 5th, Gonzalez threw a winning effort against the Phillies, allowing just one run on four hits through seven innings. In his career, Gonzalez is 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA against the Phillies.
This series is going to be crazy. The Nationals know how loud CBP can get and they know it's going to be an intense series jam packed with profanity, smack talk, and "Boos" for Bryce Harper – and the rest of the Nationals. All in all I can't wait for this series to get underway.
Tonight's lineup vs Washington:
TV: CSN ; Radio: 1210 WPHT, 94 WIP
Follow Erik on Twitter @ErikSeyboldPHI.