On to Philadelphia
The Nationals have a pretty good feel about them right now. The effect of back-to-back wins, perhaps especially when an old master flies in from Miami and slings seven scoreless, can be pretty vast. Just Saturday morning they were 1-3 and it seemed much worse; it felt like they had lost a couple on the off day.
The Phillies, fresh off sweeping the Houston Astros, have a way of preventing and eradicating any kind of positive vibes, especially when they play the Nationals. The Nats are 17-41 against Philly since 2007, but they get to miss Roy Halladay this time around. Today is the Phllies home opener, so at least the Nationals have experience playing in the conditions. The match-ups:
Today (3:05): Jason Marquis vs. Cole Hamels
Wednesday: Craig Stammen vs. Kyle Kendrick
Thursday: Scott Olsen vs. J.A. Happ
Bringing in Olsen to pitch Thursday is smart in that the Nationals will save John Lannan from facing the Phillies in two of his first three starts. Lannan's struggles against the Phillies make it a good idea to instead let him take a shot at the Milawaukee Brewers on Friday.
FROM THE POST
The Nationals made it to .500 for the first time in 736 days as Livan Hernandez showed the rest of the Nationals starters how it's done. "They can watch that and say, 'Yeah, I've got to change speeds a little bit, mix it up a little bit and throw strikes,' " Manager Jim Riggleman said. "That's what you're supposed to do, and I'm sure some our guys took notice."
Stephen Strasburg made his professional debut and earned the win despite a couple uneven innings. In five innings, he allowed four runs (one earned), surrendered four hits, walked two and struck out eight. Dave Sheinin writes Strasburg's performance underscored why Strasburg is so hyped and why he is starting in Class AA.
NATS MINOR LEAGUES
Lehigh Valley 6, Syracuse 5: Syracuse lost in the ninth inning after three straight walk-off wins to start the year. Justin Maxwell went 2 for 3 with two walks and three runs. He's hitting .333. Shairon Martis allowed four runs on seven hits and two walks in 5 1/3 innings.
Harrisburg 6, Altoona 4: Drew Storen pitched 1 1/3 innings, striking out two and retiring all four hitters he faced.
Salem 10, Potomac 7: Tim Pahuta went 3 for 5 with a home run. Catch Derek Norris has still yet to play, out with soreness in his wrist, a complication from surgery he had after breaking his hamate bone.
Hickory 5, Hagerstown 2 (10 innings): In his first start of the season, Jack McGeary allowed two runs on five hits and one walk while striking out five in five innings.
FROM AROUND THE WEB
Do you ever wonder how the ramifications of service time came to matter so much? This piece explains all -- including Stephen Strasburg's situation -- and argues the rules need to change.
The Altoona Mirror provides the local view of Strasburg's first start.
Strasburg is ready.
Or maybe he's not.
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