Pitching has guided the Phils to a 8-1 road trip. This afternoon, they try for a near-perfect 9-1 finish when ace left-hander Cole Hamels takes on Joel Hanrahan and the Nats at 12:05 p.m. from RFK Staduim.
Lineups are set: Greg Dobbs, Jayson Werth and Carlos Ruiz round out Charlie Manuel’s card. The Nationals field easily their worst lineup of the series, including starting assignments for Batista, Jimenez, Maxwell and Flores. Four-game sweeps are a lot to ask, especially on the road. However, considering the pitching matchup, Phils have an open opportunity to finish the road trip with a win.
Around the NL: Seddon (FLA) vs. Maine (NYM); Francis (COL) vs. Maddux (SD); Billingsley (LAD) vs. Gonzalez (AZ); Capuano (MIL) vs. Reyes (ATL); Gorzelanny (PIT) vs. Zambrano (CHI). Phillies must take of business since New York and San Diego are favored.
Standings: With yesterday’s win, the Phils pulled to within 1/2 games behind San Diego, who lost 6-2 to Colorado. The Mets took care of the Marlins 7-2 to remain 1 1-2 up in the division.
Beerleaguer: Can a tired bullpen maintain this pace? For one, the starters must go deeper. Adam Eaton may be on the bubble, but I’d honestly take four innings from Eaton than gamble with J.D. Durbin. They can't take any more of these two-inning meltdowns. Kyle Lohse has to do it, too.
The pen has done some amazing work lately, maybe some of the best pitching of the season. Guys like Geoff Geary and Tom Gordon have been given second and third chances, and they’re making the most of it. Clay Condrey was designated for assignment four times this season and has two saves during a playoff race.