Phillies face key doubleheader against Nationals
The Philadelphia Phillies will look to remain in playoff contention with a crucial doubleheader Tuesday against the host Washington Nationals.
The Phillies dropped their second straight, 5-1 on Monday, falling to .500 at 27-27. They have three games remaining against the Nationals and the final three on the road against the Tampa Bay Rays to try and secure their first playoff berth since 2011.
Monday’s loss was a bit ugly with three errors, going 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position and being thrown out twice trying to steal bases.
“We didn’t play good defense and we didn’t swing the bats,” manager Joe Girardi said.
The Phillies did insert Bryce Harper into the lineup as a designated hitter despite some lower back stiffness. Harper went 0-for-4 but didn’t appear to be struggling physically.
“He’ll get a lot of treatment and we’ll continue to keep our fingers crossed,” Girardi said. “Once you have a back issue, it seems like you never, ever get rid of it completely. It finds a way to rear its ugly head.”
Harper said that he would likely play one game in the outfield and serve as the designated hitter in the other game Tuesday.
Ace right-hander Aaron Nola is expected to start the first game. Nola is 5-3 with a 2.92 ERA in 10 starts this season.
In Nola’s last start against the Mets, he scuffled a bit in 5 1/3 innings and allowed five hits, five runs and a career-high-tying five walks.
In 21 career starts against the Nationals, Nola is 6-6 with a 3.86 ERA.
Girardi said that the second game will be a bullpen effort, but he wouldn’t commit to which reliever would open on the mound.
“We’ve got to see what we’ve got from the first game and go from there,” Girardi said.
The defending World Series champion Nationals will turn to winless Austin Voth in one of the two games with the other one being a bullpen matchup as well.
Voth is 0-5 with a 7.17 ERA in nine starts this season.
Voth, who has never faced the Phillies, was effective in his last outing at Tampa Bay with a five-inning performance. He gave up four hits and one run, struck out six and walked three.
“I love that he was attacking the strike zone with his fastball,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “It’s great. He established his fastball and his secondary pitches were a lot better. He went after them and I loved it.”
Voth’s command was much improved, unlike some of his earlier starts when he was wildly inconsistent.
“The main thing for me is I was using my legs properly,” Voth said. “And I felt like I still had energy and stuff left in the tank in the fifth inning. I felt like I could go back out for the sixth inning, even though I had 90 pitches.”
The Nationals scored five runs Monday despite managing only seven hits — two each by Asdrubal Cabrera and Brock Holt. They were 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position yet came up with a rare victory.
It was their first win in seven games against the Phillies this season.
–Field Level Media