• They’ve won six of eight games for the first time this season, and it’s come against winning clubs (Pirates, Braves, Nationals)
• They’re 10-4 in their last 14 games against teams with winning records (Red Sox, Pirates, Braves, Nationals)
• They’re 4-1 on their possible make-or-break 10-game homestand
• They’re 23-13 against the NL East thus far, best in the division
• Over the last 30 days, they lead the NL in hitting (.284)
Now, who better than Cliff Lee (10-2, 2.73) to add another reason to the list?
The All-Star lefty takes the mound as the Phillies (45-46) eye their fourth straight win and third straight series win when they host the Nationals (46-44) tonight for Game 3 of a four-game set.
Lee has 15 quality starts (tied for third-most among MLB starters) in 18 outings this season and owns the third-best K-to-BB ratio (5.67) out of MLB starters. In his last four meetings with Washington, the left-hander is 3-1 with a 1.93 ERA, 28 strikeouts and one walk.
Also, the heart of the Nationals’ order hasn’t had much success when facing the 34-year-old. Washington’s 3-4-5 of Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth is a collective 10 for 49 (.204) lifetime against Lee.
And just like the Nationals, the Phils square off with a tough lefty as well.
Gio Gonzalez (6-3, 3.14), who has won his last three games, starts for Washington. The 27-year-old has nasty stuff. He throws a mid-90s fastball, a hard sinker and a looping curveball that dips into the high-70s, low-80s. Opponents are hitting .205 off him, and lefties just .167.
However, Gonzalez doesn’t have a propensity to eat up innings. His 45 walks are the NL’s fourth-highest, he throws the fourth-most pitches per plate appearance (4.12) in baseball and has just three career complete games.
After allowing two hits and a couple of runs to his first two batters, Gonzalez carved up the Phillies last month at Citizens Bank Park. He held the Phils hitless the rest of his seven innings pitched, while striking out 11.
... "Other teams that have talked with Phillies GM Ruben Amaro lately say he's talking about buying, not selling."
... "I don't think they're going to sell."
1. Ben Revere, CF
2. Jimmy Rollins, SS
3. Chase Utley, 2B
4. Domonic Brown, LF
5. Michael Young, 3B
6. Delmon Young, RF
7. Darin Ruf, 1B
8. Carlos Ruiz, C
9. Cliff Lee, P
1. Denard Span, CF
2. Ian Desmond, SS
3. Bryce Harper, LF
4. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B
5. Jayson Werth, RF
6. Adam LaRoche, 1B
7. Anthony Rendon, 2B
8. Wilson Ramos, C
9 Gio Gonzalez, P