Phillies-Nationals: What you need to know

Phillies-Nationals: What you need to know
July 9, 2013, 2:00 pm
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Phillies (44-46) vs. Nationals (46-43) 
7:05 p.m. – CSN

The Phillies won their third consecutive series opener Monday night, beating the Nationals, 3-2, behind eight scoreless innings from former Nat John Lannan. On Tuesday, they aim to improve to 6-2 in July and 23-13 against the NL East.

The Phils haven’t been this close to .500 in 18 games. They were 35-37 then, when Jayson Werth hit a two-out, game-tying RBI single in the ninth inning off Jonathan Papelbon. Two innings later Ian Desmond hit a grand slam and the Phillies’ sweep was prevented. Papelbon again struggled Monday, allowing two runs and almost blowing the save on a deep drive to center by Werth that barely stayed in the yard.

The Phillies’ all-important 10-game homestand has started with three wins in four games over the Braves and Nationals. As a result, the Phils through 90 games are 7½ out of first place, 2½ games out of second and 6½ behind the Reds for the final wild-card spot. 

Hamels needs momentum
Cole Hamels (3-11, 4.38) has the chance to win back-to-back games for the first time all season. He mastered the Pirates his last time out, striking out eight and allowing just a run over seven innings. It was just the second time since the end of April Hamels allowed fewer than two runs in a start.

Hamels’ 13-6 record vs. Washington is his best against any opponent. He has a 2.64 ERA in those 25 starts and has held the Nats to a .223 batting average.

Several important Nationals have struggled to hit him – Ian Desmond is 5 for 28 (.179), Jayson Werth is 2 for 14 (.143) and Ryan Zimmerman, though a .286 career hitter off Hamels, has 14 strikeouts in 63 at-bats.

Lefty Adam LaRoche has seen Hamels well, though, going 9 for 28 (.321) with four homers and a double.

Hairston should start
Phillie-killer Scott Hairston, acquired by the Nationals on Sunday intentionally in time for this series with the Phils, is 12 for 30 (.400) off Hamels with five homers and five doubles. No player has homered off Hamels more.

Expect Hairston to start tonight in place of Denard Span, who grounded out weakly to the right side all night on Monday. Span is hitting .154 with a .222 on-base percentage this season against left-handed pitchers.

Facing an unknown
Taylor Jordan (0-1, 2.70) makes his third career start Tuesday night for the Nationals. A 24-year-old right-hander, Jordan hasn’t made more than 85 pitches in a start.

A ninth-round pick in 2009, Jordan was 9-1 with a 1.00 ERA between Single A and Double A when the Nats called him up. He throws a four-seam fastball and a two-seam fastball in the 92-94 mph range and a slider and changeup in the low 80s. He’s thrown the sinker the most – about 46 percent of the time – and gotten beat the most with it. The opposition is 9 for 22 off it, compared to 2 for 20 against the other three offerings.

Jordan has yet to allow an extra-base hit in his major-league career.

Revere remains hot
Ben Revere finally raised his batting average to .300 on Monday with a 3-for-5 night. Revere in his last 25 games has hit .410 in exactly 100 at-bats, with seven extra-base hits, 16 runs and 10 RBIs.

His .343 average since May 1 leads all centerfielders and ranks fifth in the NL, behind all-stars Yadier Molina, Michael Cuddyer, Allen Craig and Marco Scutaro.

Revere’s been hitting way more line drives lately. His line-drive rate currently sits at a season-high 23.1 percent, which would be, by far, the highest of his career if the season ended today. His groundball rate is down to a season-low 59.1 percent, which is still fourth-highest in the majors but down significantly from the 70-percent mark he had through mid-May.

Beating up on the division
The Phillies’ 22-13 record against the NL East is the second-best divisional record in the National League and fourth-best in the majors.

Only the Cardinals, Tigers and Rangers have a better winning percentage against their own division.

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