Pitching matchup highlights opener of Nationals-Phillies series

MLB Baseball

The Philadelphia Phillies opened June with a 17-run outburst.

They’ll look to continue this momentum when they host a three-game series beginning Friday against the Washington Nationals.

The Phillies blasted a franchise record-tying seven home runs and a season-best 18 hits in a 17-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday. After Wednesday’s game at Cincinnati was rained out, the Phillies received a couple of days off.

Philadelphia was very inconsistent in April and May in all phases of the game. But they began June with a bang.

“It was just kind of the mood today, you know?” said Alec Bohm, who had three hits Tuesday. “Deep breath, new month, let’s go. We can’t do anything about April and May, so why worry about it? Worrying about it is just going to drag us down more. Move on and let’s just try to dominate this month.”

The Phillies hadn’t scored more than three runs since May 24 at Miami. Before the 17 runs Tuesday, they had scored a total of 13 runs in the previous six games.

“We have so much baseball left ahead of us,” Bohm said.

The Phillies will send Zack Wheeler to the mound for his 12th start. Wheeler (4-2, 2.52 ERA) struck out a career-high 14 in his last start against the Tampa Bay Rays. Wheeler joined Curt Schilling and Steve Carlton as the only Phillies to strike out at least 10 in three straight games.

For Wheeler’s career against the Nationals, he’s 6-11 with a 4.56 ERA in 21 starts.

“We’ve got a good team,” Wheeler said. “We just have to remember that. It sounds simple, right, you’ve just got to keep your head up. We know what we’re capable of. We haven’t been playing the way that we should.”

Bryce Harper (wrist) and Didi Gregorius (elbow) aren’t expected to be in the lineup Friday.

The Nationals will look to regroup after a 5-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Thursday.

Washington will have a solid opportunity to win since it will be sending ace Max Scherzer (4-4, 2.34 ERA) to the mound. In eight career starts with the Nationals at Philadelphia, Scherzer is 5-1 with a 2.63 ERA.

For Scherzer’s career against the Phillies, he’s 11-4 with a 2.70 ERA in 21 starts.

In Scherzer’s last start, he gave up two hits and two runs to go along with 10 strikeouts and one walk against the Milwaukee Brewers. As usual, Scherzer turned in a quality start.

“You just got to go out there and just do your job,” Scherzer said. “You got to think about all the little things that you can do better, individually.”

While Thursday’s game was a struggle offensively, Juan Soto reached base twice with walks. On Wednesday, Soto ripped a two-run home run and slowly looks to be improving at the plate.

“He’s really on time,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said of Soto. “And I’m just watching where his contact point is and it’s right where it needs to be. So, like I said, it’s really good right now, so hopefully he stays that way. He’s in a good spot right now, he’s getting ready, he’s taking pitches the way he’s supposed to and he’s getting ready to hit the fastball early.”

Kyle Schwarber didn’t play Thursday with right knee soreness from the day before. Schwarber was available to pinch hit.

–Field Level Media

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