The hometown nine will look to improve their play at home after dropping five of their first six games at Citizen's Bank Park. Tonight they face Tony Armas Jr. and the Washington Nationals.
For the first half of 2005, the Nationals were on top of the free-for-all known as the NL East. Around the time fans started to wonder how long it could last, something happened. Carlos Baerga started showing up in the boxscores as their cleanup hitter. At that point, everyone, including the Nationals, knew they were cooked. They were.
So began their spiral into the NL East cellar. By October, they were broken, easy marks for the surging Phillies during the final series of the year.
Today, they’re back to bottom feeding in the fine tradition of their French-Canadien forefathers, off to a 4-9 start, getting most of their offense from the top: Alfonso Soriano (.294, 3 HR); Jose Vidro (.348, 3 HR) and Nick Johnson (.357, 3 HR). The bottom eight fills out poorly. They have yet another scrap-heap beauty batting cleanup in Daryle Ward. Top prospecet Ryan Zimmerman is off to a shaky start, hitting just .204.
The Phillies should take this series easily if they play to their ability and avoid falling behind late. Their strength is in bullpen, where closer Chad Cordero and workhorse Gary Majewski make a formidable pair. The Phils got a good taste of them last season and had trouble. Cordero in particular had a breakout campaign, especially in the first half when he led all relief pitchers in Win Shares and was near the top in appearances. True to form, Majewski has already appeared in 8 games.
Cory Lidle (1-1, 4.91 ERA), will make his third start. He’ face Tony Armas Jr. (0-2, 3.27 ERA), a pitcher in the mold of Vicente Padilla for an equal blend of stuff, inconsistency and nagging arm trouble.
Follow along with the Yahoo! live boxscore [here].