Postgame Plus: Hitting season 'better come soon'

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Postgame Plus: Hitting season 'better come soon'

Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg held a team meeting before the club's series opener with the Washington Nationals Tuesday night.

A few hours later, the Phillies lost, 7-0, to the Nationals for their fourth consecutive defeat (see game story).

The meeting clearly didn't have its intended impact.

The Phils have now lost 14 of their last 21 games, falling to 24-32 on the season.

"In the past, we used to think about this time of the year as 'hitting season,'" Phillies analyst Ricky Bottalico said after the game.

The Phillies had six hits, but only two of them through seven innings. They loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth but failed to score a run.

"Well right now is that time and the Phillies have been blanked now for the eighth time this season. So for the Phillies, I don't know when hitting season is coming, but it better come soon."

To hear Bottalico break down the Phils' latest loss, watch the video above.

Tonight's lineup: Cesar Hernandez in, Maikel Franco out vs. Yu Darvish

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Tonight's lineup: Cesar Hernandez in, Maikel Franco out vs. Yu Darvish

Pete Mackanin continues to play musical chairs with his logjam of infielders.

Tonight, Cesar Hernandez returns to the Phillies' lineup playing second and leading off. He sat against lefty Clayton Kershaw and will face righty Yu Darvish tonight. Hernandez has fared better against right-handers (.293) than southpaws (.279). He leads the team with a .359 OBP this season.

Maikel Franco will take a seat tonight. Franco has been much better over his last 10 games. In that span, Franco is 15 for 35 (.371) with two homers and seven RBIs. His average for the season is still just at .232.

J.P. Crawford will take over at the hot corner and bat seventh. Crawford has been sort of up and down since his call up, but his patented control of the strike zone has certainly translated at the big league level. The rookie is hitting a modest .256 so far but has an OBP of .340.

Here is the rest of tonight's lineup:
1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Freddy Galvis, SS
3. Odubel Herrera, CF
4. Rhys Hoskins, 1B
5. Nick Williams, RF
6. Aaron Altherr, LF
7. J.P. Crawford, 3B
8. Jorge Alfaro, C
9. Aaron Nola, P

And here's how the Dodgers will line up against Nola:
1. Chris Taylor, CF
2. Corey Seager, SS
3. Justin Turner, 3B
4. Cody Bellinger, 1B
5. Curtis Granderson, RF
6. Chase Utley, 2B
7. Yasmani Grandal, C
8. Andre Ethier, LF
9. Yu Darvish, P

Phillies-Dodgers thoughts: Phils can make a statement tonight vs. Yu Darvish

Phillies-Dodgers thoughts: Phils can make a statement tonight vs. Yu Darvish

Phillies (59-91) vs. Dodgers (96-64)
7:05 p.m. on CSN; streaming live on CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App

Nick Pivetta the giant-killer helped the Phillies to a series-opening victory last night in a game the Phillies had no business winning. Despite having the highest ERA in the majors (6.57) among pitchers with at least 100 innings, Pivetta has somehow led the Phillies to wins in games against Clayton Kershaw and Chris Sale, the sport's two best lefties.

The Phils get another tough test tonight in right-hander Yu Darvish, who can be just as unhittable as Kershaw when he's not missing over the middle.

• Aaron Altherr's grand slam last night was the first ever allowed by Kershaw, who has made 302 career starts including the postseason. The Phillies are now the only team against which Kershaw is two games under .500 in his career.

• Altherr this season has eight home runs in 109 plate appearances against lefties. From 2014-16, he had just one homer against lefties in 106 plate appearances.

• Altherr has also homered 12 times in 48 games at Citizens Bank Park this year. One outta four ain't bad.

• Interesting that the Phillies shifted J.P. Crawford to third base last night and brought Cesar Hernandez in to play second once they had the lead. It kind of shows that this coaching staff views Crawford as a better defender than Maikel Franco, which is meaningful moving forward. Crawford made a fantastic running barehand pickup last night to get the Phils a tough out.

• One of the things that makes Darvish so good is that his velocity ranges from about 68 mph with his slow curve to 96 mph with his fastball. He has 9.96 strikeouts per nine innings this season, 11th-most in baseball.

• Aaron Nola (11-10, 3.60) starts tonight for the Phillies, coming off a career-high 11 strikeouts vs. the Marlins. The Dodgers are a very good offensive team but this is still a decent matchup for Nola because of the swing-and-miss in the games of Cody Bellinger, Curtis Gradnerson, Chris Taylor and Yasiel Puig. Look for Nola to attack Bellinger with two-seam fastballs that start inside and come back over the inside corner after Pivetta had success doing so last night.

• Since Aug. 27, the only team in the majors with a lower bullpen ERA than the Phillies is the Cleveland Indians. Luis Garcia fired another scoreless inning last night. He's allowed one run in his last 17 appearances.