The Washington Nationals are 7-6 against the Philadelphia Phillies this year. On the road in the home of their NL East rivals, Citizens Bank Park, however, the Nats are just 2-5 so far this season, dropping two of three in their first series in the City of Brotherly Love back in mid-June and three of four in their second trip to the one-time temporary capital of the United States in the second week of July.
The 69-67 Nationals and the 62-75 Phillies start a three-game set tonight with Stephen Strasburg and Cole Hamels on the mound. Last time out against Philadelphia, Strasburg threw a complete game shutout, giving up four hits and one walk while recording 10 Ks in a 6-0 win in the current nation's capital. On the year, the Nationals' 25-year-old, '09 no.1 overall pick is (2-0) against the Phillies with a 0.53 ERA, one walk (0.53 BB/9) and 19 Ks (10.06 K/9) in 17 IP and he's (2-1) with a 3.16 ERA in five starts in his career against the Nats' divisional foes.
Hamels, 29, is (1-1) with a 2.51 ERA, two walks (1.26 BB/9) and 10 Ks (6.28 K/9) in two starts and 14 1/3 IP against the Nationals this season and the '02 1st Rounder is (14-6) with a 2.57 ERA, 44 BBs (2.31 BB/9), 177 Ks (9.28 K/9) and a 1.08 WHIP in 26 games and 171.2 IP against Washington in his eight-year MLB career. Hamels gave up six hits and five runs in a 6-1 loss when he came out on the losing end of a matchup with Strasburg back on May 26th in D.C., but he held the Nationals to one run on six hits in a 4-2 win last time he faced the Nats in Philadelphia.
Nats' skipper Davey Johnson stacked his lineup with lefties last night when the Nationals took on New York Mets' lefty Jon Niese, but the 70-year-old skipper has one of the left-handed hitters who sat back in the lineup tonight for the first game of three with the Phillies:
Today's #Nationals lineup at PHI: Harper 8, Hairston 7, Zimmerman 5, Werth 9, Desmond 6, LaRoche 3, Ramos 2, Rendon 4, Strasburg 1— Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) September 2, 2013
Asked why he was going with LaRoche against the Phillies' veteran lefty, Johnson said he wanted to send a message to his beleaguered first baseman who's in the midst of an 0 for 15 stretch heading into tonight's game:
Davey starting Hairston, LaRoche because of strong numbers vs. Hamels. Also, with LaRoche, "I don't want him to feel like I don't like him."— Dan Kolko (@masnKolko) September 2, 2013
LaRoche is also 10 for 31 with a double and four home runs against Hamels in their respective careers. Hairston's 14 for 34 with five doubles and five home runs against the Phillies' lefty...
• Game Time: 7:05 PM EDT in Philly.
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