Game 45: Round Two

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PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Phillies once again find themselves on the brink of being swept at the hands of the Washington Nationals.

And once again, Cole Hamels will take the mound in the third game hoping to prevent that sweep and provide a much-needed spark for the team. Hopefully this time he won’t need to do it like he did last time.

This will be the first time Hamels will face the Nationals since confessing to hitting the 19-year-old rookie phenom Bryce Harper in the back intentionally to send a message. What will be interesting is how both teams handle the tension between the two parties throughout the game.

Surely Hamels won’t hit Harper nor will Washington throw at Hamels or another Philadelphia star like Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence or Carlos Ruiz. But the media will play that possibility up anyway, just like ESPN has done all week.

But the real story heading into this game once again lies on the Phillies record, inconsistency and place in the standings. They are now two games under .500 thanks to a four-game losing streak that has quickly erased the six-game tear they went on prior.

The last four games have been dreadful for the offense, especially with runners in scoring position. They are 5-for-38 with runners in scoring position, scoring nine runs during that stretch.

That’s why Hamels will have to be near-perfect once again if the Phillies want a chance at winning. For Hamels, that isn’t asking too much as he’s been the rotation’s best starter by far.

Hamels is 6-1 with a 2.48 ERA through seven starts this season. He will seek his National League-leading seventh win tonight against Edwin Jackson (1-1, 3.31).

Tonight’s Lineup*
Pierre 7
Polanco 5
Pence 9
Ruiz 2
Victorino 8
Wigginton 3
Galvis 6
Fontenot 4
Hamels 1

*(Rollins still on paternity leave)


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