Philadelphia Phillies (2-0) at Washington Nationals (0-2)
Kyle Kendrick, RHP vs. Craig Stammen, RHP
Time: 4:35, Nationals Park
Weather: Cloudy/Windy, 84
TV: Comcast SportsNet
Twitter: Phillies Nation
If the Phillies have had a kryptonite the past few seasons, it’s been the month of April. But with the offense erupting for 19 runs in two victories over the Nationals, the Phillies are a win away from sweeping the season’s opening series for the first time since 2001. Yes, it’s been that long. Until Wednesday, Jimmy Rollins was the only current player left from that scrappy squad that nearly stole the NL East pennant. But then the Phils picked up Nelson Figueroa off waivers from the Mets – if nothing else, a positive omen for the Phillies heading into today’s finale.
With all the fuss over the guy who wears No. 34, the evolution of Kyle Kendrick was one of the quieter stories of the Phillies’ spring training, and this game should give us a better sense of just how far he has come from being a one-pitch wonder to a capable starter who can fall back on a change-up and cut fastball in addition to his sinker to get outs. No other Phillies pitcher had a better spring than Kendrick, who allowed only four earned runs in 24 2/3 innings for a mighty-impressive 1.42 ERA (though Jamie Moyer was a close second).
The Phillies’ top four hitters in the lineup – Jimmy Rollins, Placido Polanco, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard — have feasted on the Nationals’ pitching in the first two games, going 15-for-34 (.441). Today’s dish is second-year starter Craig Stammen, who will have the advantage of unfamiliarity because the Phillies haven’t faced him.
Stammen, who went 4-7 with a 5.11 ERA in 2009, is a control pitcher who relies on a curveball for strikeouts and probably wouldn’t be on many other teams’ rotations – much less occupy the No. 3 starter role. But that is the sorry state of the Nationals’ pitching staff.
Today’s Lineup: Rollins (SS), Polanco (3B), Utley (2B), Howard (1B), Werth (RF), Ibanez (LF), Victorino (CF), Schneider (C), Kendrick (P).
Your Gameday Beer – Pabst Blue Ribbon
It just feels like a Pabst day. It’s a 4:35 start today, meaning you’ll likely be getting off of work, sitting down on the couch, and enjoying the game. That feels Pabst-like to me. Don’t mistake it for a high-quality beer, but for a cheap case you can’t beat it. On their Wikipedia page it says, “Whether the brand actually won an award in 1893 is unclear.” My guess is, it didn’t. But enjoy it anyway, ice cold! – By Pat