Friday, May 6, 2011

Phils sweep the Nats, look ahead to Braves

The Phillies swept their third series of the season, taking down the Washington Nationals behind dominant pitching and a potential slump busting three games from Raul Ibanez. They improved to a National League best 21-9, and moved two games ahead of the Florida Marlins in the East.

Cole Hamels was dominant in a 4-1 complete game victory on Tuesday, possessing excellent control of his fastball and cutter.

Vance Worley pitched another great game on Wednesday, allowing just one run over six innings in a 7-4 win.

Roy Halladay finished off the Nationals last night 7-3, improving to ten straight wins over the Nats which John Lannon dropped his tenth straight game to the Phils.

Ibanez entered the series batting .154, marred in a 0-for-34 slump. After extending his streak to 0-for-35, Ibanez broke out in a big way. He finished the series 8-for-11 with two (longggg) home runs, three doubles and four RBI. He's now batting .222. Ibanez still has a long way to go overall, but that's quite a turnaround in just three days.

Roy Oswalt is back with the team and hopes to start on Saturday against the Braves, while Joe Blanton could return for Monday's opener against the Marlins. The way Worley has pitched, no one is holding their breath for Blanton's return.

Chase Utley is also expected to start extended spring training today down in Florida; obviously excellent news.

The Phils are set for a weekend match-up with the 18-15 Atlanta Braves at Citizen's Bank Park. The Braves are 4.5 games behind the Phils. Here's a look at the probables:

Friday: Derek Lowe (2-3 3.72) vs Cliff Lee (2-2 3.66)
Lee is coming off a strong start against the Mets, but his worst start of the season came against the Braves at Turner Field. He lasted just 3.1 innings, allowing six runs on ten hits. He'll look for better results tonight.
The Phillies beat Lowe in their only match-up this season, but Lowe pitched seven strong innings, allowing just two runs on seven hits with no walks.

Saturday: Jair Jurrjens (3-0 1.52) vs Oswalt (3-1 3.33)
Oswalt was off to a dominant 3-0 start with a 1.88 ERA until Arizona got to him in his last start for five runs in just three innings. This came the day before Oswalt left the team to be with his family. He was excellent in his one outing against Atlanta earlier, picking up the win, allowing one run over six innings on five hits, two walks and two strikeouts.
Jurrjens, as the numbers would indicate, is off to a fantastic start. He's allowed two runs or less in all of his starts this season. He's yet to face the Phils in 2011.

Sunday: TBD vs Cole Hamels (4-1 2.66)
Hamels has been terrific since his season opening debacle, and is coming off his first complete game of the season. He picked up his first win of the season against Atlanta, tossing seven shutout innings at the Braves, allowing just four hits and one walk with eight strikeouts.

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