Originally posted on The Nats Blog old  |  Last updated 5/21/12

The Washington Nationals (24-17) are heading up I-95 towards Citizens Bank Park to kick off a nine-game road trip with a series against the Philadelphia Phillies (21-21), which could be considered the first face-off since the two teams became rivals, at least in the eyes of the media.

The Nationals' last series against the Phillies at the beginning of the month was memorable to say the least, with the Nationals' "Our Park" campaign, the Hammels-Harper-Rizzo showdown, and Jayson Werth's broken wrist and admonishment of Phillies phans. After all of the antics surrounding their last meeting, some added satisfaction will come with winning this series, if not for the players then definitely for the fans.

What Went Down In Their Last Meeting

Last time, the Nats took two of three from the Phils, and scored just one more run (14) than their opponent (13). Although Washington outhit Philly 37 to 24, the Nationals left an atrocious 30 men on base, compared to the Phillies' 19. If the Nats can somehow figure out how to be more effective in situational hitting roles, they have the potential to beat the Phillies (or any team, really) with ease.

The Nationals had the opportunity to go for the sweep all the way up until the top of the ninth inning in game three. Ryan Perry (10.80 ERA) gave up a gut wrenching six runs on five hits in 0.2 innings, extending Philadelphia's lead from two to eight runs, making a close game basically un-winnable for the Nationals. They rallied in the bottom of the ninth to finish at a slightly less embarrassing 3-9, but could not come back from that defecit. Perry has been used just twice since that outing, pitching a total of four innings with two hits, one earned run and two strike outs.

Hammels vs. Harper vs. Rizzo

Cole Hammels was dominant in his last outing against the Nats, striking out eight batters through eight innings pitched, and only allowing one run - which happened to be Bryce Harper's stolen home base that screamed "bite me" after Hammels beaned him in the bottom of the first. Hammels will face Edwin Jackson on Wednesday, and hopefully everyone can play nice this time so we can avoid any fines or chicken references from Mike Rizzo.

Can The Nats Take The Second series?

The Nationals have made significant changes in their lineup since the last series, with both Wilson Ramos and Werth (who sadly won't have the opportunity to be booed and heckled by the kindest of phans at CBP) on the DL. For the most part the Nationals have been keeping pace without those two starters, but hopefully their replacements can provide the same pop they did last time against the Phillies. Ramos hit a game winning single in the 11th in the series opener, and Werth went 2-4 with a home run in game two.

Washington is in second place in the NL East, sitting 1.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves in first, while the Phillies have continued to man their post in last place. The Nats have gone 6-7 since their last meeting with the Phillies, who are 7-6 in the same time frame. With the standings and their records about the same as they were before their last meeting, each team's chance of winning is lining up to be about the same.

Granted, with baseball any team has the chance to win on any given day - that's one thing that makes this sport so great. But with the way the relationship between these teams are developing, and their respective strengths and struggles, I think it will come down to the team who fights the hardest. Without a doubt, all the pieces are in place for this to be an interesting series.

Is The Doctor Ill?

The Nationals will face Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay for the first time this season. In his last three starts he has recorded 21 strikeouts, while giving up 19 hits and seven earned runs.

Who's Hot?

Carlos Ruiz (C) .355 AVG, .595 SLG, 7 HR, 29 RBI

Hunter Pence (RF) .268 AVG, .506 SLG, 10 HR, 28 RBI (homered twice off Zimmermann in their last meeting)

Antonio Bastardo (LHP) 1.46 ERA, 12.1 IP, 5 H, 14 SO

Jonathan Papelbon (CL) 2.20 ERA, 19 SO, 12-12 in SVO

Who's Not?

Jimmy Rollins (SS) .229 AVG, .283 SLG, 1 HR, 30 SO

John Mayberry (LF) .248 AVG, .333 SLG, 1 HR, 30 SO

Probable Starters

Gio Gonzalez (5-1, 2.22 ERA) vs. Kyle Kendrick (0-3, 5.96 ERA)

Jordan Zimmermann (2-4, 2.58 ERA) vs. Roy Halladay (4-3, 3.22 ERA)

Edwin Jackson (1-1, 3.31 ERA) vs. Cole Hammels (6-1, 2.48 ERA)

Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Wade says Riley did not push him out of Miami

Nationals among multiple teams inquiring on Mark Melancon

McClain does not show up for Cowboys’ training camp

Andre Johnson agrees to two-year deal with Titans

Redskins GM injures hand punching wall in frustration


Report: Aldon Smith checks into rehab

McCarthy discusses 'urgency’ to win another title with Rodgers

Report: Lions extend CB Darius Slay with $50 million deal

Adam Jones: Bengals dominated Steelers in playoff game

Robert Griffin III on QB battle: Only one of us runs 4.3

Gordon defends friendship with 'good friend' Manziel

Texas A&M creates a very sexist version of their fight song for women

Brown, Marshall are apparently serious about their car bet

Lacy, Starks could split carries to start season

Cyborg Santos post-surgery skull photos are eerie

Dr. Phil calls out the Patriots for their cheating ways

Hockey team unveils Clinton, Trump bobbleheads

Bennett compares chemistry with Pats QBs to his love life

Crowell still making amends for controversial Instagram post

Report: LeBron urged Justin Bieber not to perform at RNC

Luck refutes Matt Hasselbeck’s assertion he never showers

Newspaper editor explains use of Jordan meme for MJ article

Five NFL teams set to underachieve in 2016

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Dr. Phil calls out the Patriots for their cheating ways

Everything that's already gone wrong at the Rio Olympics

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker