Wire Taps: Nationals vs Phillies + Stephen Strasburg vs Cliff Lee makes up for off day

USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Nationals start a three-game set in Citizens Bank Park tonight with Stephen Strasburg on the mound against Philadelphia Phillies' lefty Cliff Lee. Can the Nats make it three in-a-row after sweeping the two-game set in Houston?

Since Jayson Werth left Philadelphia for the nation's capital, the Washington Nationals are 30-25 against their NL East rivals from the City of Brotherly Love. The Nats' right fielder struggled in his first two seasons back in Citizens Bank Park, going 4 for 21 and posting a .190/.250/.238 line with a double in six games and 24 plate appearances in CBP in 2011 and 5 for 23 with a .217/.308/.261 line and a double in six games and 26 PAs in 2012.

In 2013, Werth killed Phillies' pitching when he returned to Citizens Bank.

"I am motivated to get back quickly and see to it personally those people never walk down Broad Street in celebration again..." - Jayson Werth to WaPost writer Adam Kilgore, 2012

It's probably a stretch to tie the things together, but hey it's the internet: Werth vowed in a 2012 email to Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore to, "...see to it personally those people never walk down Broad Street in celebration again," after Phillies fans cheered when he broke his wrist on a sliding play in the outfield in Nationals Park in May of that season.

All of his 2012 plate appearances in Philadelphia took place post-injury, but in his third season with the Nationals last summer, Werth crushed in Philly. The 34-year-old outfielder was 13 for 38 in CBP last season, with three home runs and a .342/.409/.579 line in 10 games against the Phillies. In his career, the outfielder now has a .291/.380/.519 line with 49 doubles and 55 HRs in 298 games and 1,148 plate appearances in Citizens Bank.

Werth and the Nationals return to Philadelphia tonight to start a three-game set with the Phillies... that's going to serve as our intro to the link post today.

Links and lots of them, starting... RIGHT NOW!!!:

• THE BIG STORY!!!:

• "Some series really do have extra meaning. For reasons of timing, this weekend’s might be one of them for the Nationals." - "A big series for the Nationals in Philadelphia" - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post

• NATS BEAT:

• "Speaking of Fister, he makes one final tune-up tonight for Class AA Harrisburg. The right-hander is scheduled to go five innings or 80 pitches, give or take, in his final test before coming off the DL." - "Washington Nationals face a tough week vs. Phillies, Dodgers" - Mark Zuckerman, Nats Insider

• "A little over a month into the 2014 regular season, there isn't a single National League East team with a sub-.500 record." - "Nationals Pastime: A common thread within the division" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "Although Roark is one of the talented pitchers on the Nationals, two years ago it seemed doubtful he would ever have a big league career." - "Washington Nationals pitcher Tanner Roark no longer lets small stuff weigh him down" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com: News

• "Neil Greenberg of Fancy Stats fame went searching for the most clutch hitter in April and found him right in our own metaphoric back yard." - "Jayson Werth is Mr. April" - Tracee Hamilton, Washington Post

• "We asked Kurkjian about his thoughts on Bryce Harper’s durability, Matt Williams’ first month as manager, how good Anthony Rendon has been so far..." - "Podcast: ‘Baseball in the District’ – ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian" - Chase Hughes, Nats Insider

• "Spit on it and rub. That’s what players tell each other as code to ignore injuries, not complain and play on. That’s what the Nationals must do now." - "Nats of 2014 need to recall how they handled injuries and adversity way back in 2012" - Thomas Boswell, The Washington Post

• Your Daily Message from the Dalai Lama on Twitter (@DalaiLama):

• NATIONAL(S) BEAT:

• "Rookie has five errors in 14 games, but none funnier than this one..." - "George Springer misplays ball at least four times and allows Denard Span to score" - David Brown, Big League Stew - Yahoo Sports

• "A couple of years ago there was a thing where Phillies fans would descend on Washington and buy up all the Nats-Phillies tickets for games played at Nats Park." - "Remember when Phillies fans used to invade Nationals Park? Well . . ." - Craig Calcaterra, HardballTalk

• "[Robbie] Ray, 22, was the obvious choice to sub for Anibal Sanchez (out with a blister on the middle finger of his right hand)..." - "Robbie Ray to make debut Tuesday as Tigers minor league pitchers struggle" - George Sipple, Lansing State Journal | lansingstatejournal.com

• "Doing something nice for his community has been a longtime dream for Adam LaRoche. Now his vision for a state-of-the-art baseball complex in Fort Scott is about to become a reality." - "LaRoche's dream turning to reality" - Matthew Resnick, Fort Scott Tribune

• "Kevin Frandsen will return to Citizens Bank Park on Friday for the first time since departing the Phillies organization this spring." - "Frandsen's success reminder of Phillies' bench woes" - Chris Branch, The News Journal

• "Robbie Ray is just a few days away from some serious on-the-job training." - "Brad Ausmus: Detroit Tigers prospect Robbie Ray still learning, has stuff to get big-league hitters out" - Chris Iott, MLive.com

• "Oakland's catcher is hitting .386/.444/.579. C'mooooon. #FreeDerekNorris" - "Free Derek Norris!" - Alex Hall, Athletics Nation

• NATS MINORS:

• "The Hagerstown Suns (19-6) walked off with a 4-3 win in game two of a double-header with the Hickory Crawdads (12-13) on Thursday night to salvage the split of the twin bill." - "Suns split twin bill, series with Crawdads" - Hagerstown Suns News

• "Nationals RHP John Simms in his Carolina League debut looked for his first career professional victory but the P-Nats bullpen spoiled his chance to ink the win." - "Dash Rally Past P-Nats 3-2 in Series Lid Lifter" - Potomac Nationals News

• "The starting rotation is made up of arms such as the  2012 first-round pick Lucas Giolito (2.95 ERA in five starts), the 2013 second-round pick Jake Johansen (5.21 ERA in four starts), ’13 fifth-round pick Austin Voth (3.24 ERA in four starts) and a ’13 fourth-round pick Nick Pivetta (4.57 ERA in five starts)." - "Nationals’ next wave of young talent at Class A Hagerstown" - James Wagner, Washington Post

• "Nationals outfielder Scott Hairston (oblique strain) had a positive rehab start Thursday for Triple-A Syracuse." - "Hairston smacks RBI double in rehab start for Syracuse" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com

• "Friday’s News & Notes" - Luke Erickson, NationalsProspects.com

• "Senators pitcher Matt Purke dropped to 0-5 with a loss in the first game of Thursday night's doubleheader against New Britain." - "Washington Nationals P Doug Fister scheduled to start as Harrisburg Senators open series at Reading" - Tim Leone, PennLive.com

• "A three-run rally in the bottom of the seventh inning Thursday night lifted the Harrisburg Senators to a 4-3 victory over the New Britain Rock Cats..." - "Harrisburg Senators rebound to take second game of doubleheader against New Britain Rock Cats" - Tim Leone, PennLive.com

• "Some of Syracuse Chiefs third baseman Brandon Laird's swings lately have been a flash too quick." - "Brandon Laird's timing just right to deliver the Syracuse Chiefs a 4-3 win over Toledo" - Lindsay Kramer, syracuse.com

• "Jhonatan Solano led off the eighth with a single off Toledo reliever Blaine Hardy (1-1). Brian Goodwin's sacrifice bunt moved him to second." - "Brandon Laird's eighth-inning single delivers the game-winner as Syracuse Chiefs edge Toledo, 4-3" - Lindsay Kramer, syracuse.com

• "'My stress level has gone down a lot,'' Jordan said in a statement atypical of a player whose major league pass was replaced by a ticket to Triple-A." - "Demotion to Syracuse Chiefs brings relief to starter Taylor Jordan" - Lindsay Kramer, syracuse.com

• NATSTOWN:

• "Calvinist Sports" - Harper, Nationals Baseball

• "Nationals outfielder Denard Span has been to (and played in) all 30 current major league parks." - "Nats’ Denard Span completes tour of MLB ballparks" - Scott Allen, DC Sports Bog

• "Riding an eight-game hitting streak through April 27, Ward has been an indispensable run producer for the Suns' offense this season." - "Nationals Minor League Spotlight: Drew Ward, Michael Taylor" - Nate Harold, PressboxDC

• "Get To Know A Series: Philadelphia Phillies" - Nationals 101

• "Nats Starter Matchup Analysis – April 2014" - Todd Boss, Nationals Arm Race

• "Nats’ April in review: Who is going to step in?" - Nats Noodles

• NL EAST UPDATES:

Phillies: "Here's something to chew on: The Phillies currently rank 14th in baseball in average attendance, one slot ahead of the Nationals, who are in town this weekend to play a three-game series." - "Phillies, Nationals by the numbers" - David Murphy, Philadelphia Daily News

Mets: "Juan Lagares, freshly returned from the disabled list, led off the game with a well-struck double, reminding Mets fans just how much we missed watching him play." - "Mets vs. Rockies Recap: Mets can't solve Nicasio, Rockies figure out Colon" - Jeffrey Litt, Amazin' Avenue

Marlins: "If you told Miami Marlins fans that the team would be in last place in the NL East by the end of April, fans would shrug." - "The Miami Marlins' meaningful April performance" - Michael Jong, Fish Stripes

Braves: "When virtually the same Marlins lineup which struck out 11 times against Aaron Harang last week at Turner Field pounced on him for 10 hits and a career-high nine runs on Wednesday night in Miami, he and the Braves had their suspicions." - "Gonzalez, Braves can’t confirm suspicions of sign-stealing" - Carroll Rogers, www.ajc.com

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