1. When and where
After taking the first game of the series in dramatic fashion, the Phillies dropped their next two to the Chicago Cubs, falling 7-1 in Sunday's rubber match. The Phils haven't won a road series since early July.
The good news is that they return home Monday for a holiday matchup with the Nationals at 7:05 on CSN. The bad news is they'll face Stephen Strasburg.
2. Hot hand on the hill
That would be Cole Hamels (6-13, 3.58), who finished the month of August with a 2-0 record in six games and a 2.00 ERA. He also struck out 37 batters and walked just four in 45 innings.
The left-hander has faced the Nats twice already this season, suffering a loss in Washington on May 26 but beating them in Philly on July 9. Overall, Hamels has tortured the Nationals in his career, defeating them 14 times — the most wins he has against any club — to go along with a 2.57 lifetime ERA.
Current Nats are batting .272 off Hamels. Scott Hairston has especially destroyed the Phillie — he's 14 for 34 (.412) against him with five doubles and five homers. Back in July, he made his Nationals debut and picked up two hits against Hamels. Expect him in the lineup again tonight.
3. Don't expect Labor Day fireworks
Runs always seem hard to come by when Hamels takes the mound. That likely won't change tonight, with Stephen Strasburg (6-9, 2.96) getting the start.
The Nationals ace has killed the Phillies this season, beating them twice and allowing only one run and nine hits in 17 innings. He threw his first career complete game against them on Aug. 11 (yes, Davey Johnson left him in for nine whole innings!) and tossed eight frames of one-run ball on May 26. Both games were in Washington.
The 25-year-old has had an odd last few starts. A rain delay forced his removal in his last outing after he threw just two innings, and three games ago he was ejected in the second inning after throwing three wild pitches. In between, he got a no-decision against the Cubs after giving up four runs in 8.2 innings.
Unsurprisingly, the Phillies haven't hit him well and are .185 against him. Jimmy Rollins has seen him most and is 2 for 16, though he does have him in his book. Kevin Frandsen should find himself in the lineup, as he's 3 for 7 off him, also with a homer.
4. All or nothing
Darin Ruf hasn't exactly been racking up the hits lately — he's batting .231 since August began — but when he does get a hold of a ball, it tends to go a long way. Ten of his 25 hits over that span have been homers, including a solo shot for the Phillies' lone run Sunday. But he's also piled up 39 punch-outs in 30 games.
Thanks to 11 walks and a couple hit by pitches, he's still found his way on base on a consistent basis. He's reached base safely in 26 of 30 games with a .311 on-base percentage.
Ruf struck out three times in three at-bats when he faced Strasburg on Aug. 11.
5. Not so Werthless
Since returning from the disabled list in the beginning of June, Jayson Werth has been one of the National League's best hitters. In August, he was the NL's best hitter.
Werth has hit .347 since June 4. Since Aug. 1, he's hit .381 since Aug. 1 and in half of his games since then, he picked up at least two hits. His hot bat earned him Player of the Month accolades.
The ex-Phillie has not seen Hamels well — he's 3 for 18 against him with four strikeouts, a homer and just one walk. But he has enjoyed haunting his former club, sporting a .304 lifetime average in 44 games, and of course loves hitting in Citizens Bank Park.
1. When and where