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Out of the Batter’s Box [5.4.2012] – Phillies prepare for key weekend series in Washington

Waking up this morning still in some awe over the performance of Joe Blanton yesterday. After 400 pitches were thrown Wednesday night in an extra innings offensive explosion, Blanton managed to get through a complete game on fewer than 90 pitches. While Blanton deserves a bunch of credit for doing what he did, you have to pit some blame on the Braves as well. No pitcher, no matter how good they are, should ever get through a complete game without tossing 90 pitches.

Bryce Harper shows his Natitude.
AP photo 

This weekend the Phillies head to Washington, where the Nationals are set to take back their park. The pitching match-ups this weekend may not be in favor of the Phillies, except for Sunday night with Cole Hamels taking the mound. Tonight will see Stephen Strasburg oppose Kyle Kendrick. You can probably chalk this one up for the Nationals. Of course this weekend will also give Phillies fans a chance to witness 19-year old phenom Bryce Harper, who USA Today is already suggesting will be a big leaguer for life. Harper was batting third for the Nationals yesterday.

And speaking of the Nationals, he may be recovering from injury right now (expected back around the All-Star break), closer Drew Storen has his Twitter handle stitched on to his glove. He is the first MLB player to have his Twitter name (@DrewStoren) on his glove, but he will likely not be the last.

This should be a significant weekend series in Washington, and is perhaps the most hyped series between the two franchises since the Nationals made the move form Montreal to Washington. We all know about the Take Back Our Park initiative, and the uproar it has caused by some, but the Nationals have reason to be confident this weekend. They are a young, up and coming team and they took the season series last year. With young players like Strasburg and Harper becoming the faces of the organization alongside third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, the future is bright for Washington.

They have been struggling lately though, and injuries have played a big role in that. The Nats have nine players currently on the disabled list, including Zimmerman, former Phillies closer Brad Lidge and other key players such as starting pitcher Chien-Ming Wang, Mark DeRosa, Adam LaRoche and Storen. That is a lot of regulars out of commission this weekend.

Yesterday in the NL East

Phillies 4, Braves 0

Nationals 2, Diamondbacks 1

Marlins 3, Giants 2

Astros 8, Mets 1

Updated NL East Standings

  1. 16-9 Nationals
  2. 15-11 Braves (1.5 GB)
  3. 13-12 Mets (3.0 GB)
  4. 13-13 Phillies (3.5 GB)
  5. 11-14 Marlins (5.0)

Elsewhere…

It is always sad to see the career of a Hall of Fame caliber player come to an end. It is especially sad seeing the career end the way it may be for New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, who tore his ACL during batting practice yesterday in Kansas City.

Speaking of the Yankees, check out the MLB standings sometime today. This is the first time since baseball expanded to six divisions in 1994 that the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees are at the bottom of the division standings this late in to the season.

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