The Philadelphia Phillies will look to continue their season-long dominance of the host Washington Nationals and take one step closer to a postseason berth in a day-night doubleheader on Saturday.
The Phillies (84-72) have defeated the Nationals (54-102) nine straight times and have won 14 of the teams’ 16 meetings this season after a 5-1 victory in the opener of a four-game set on Friday.
Philadelphia ended a five-game losing streak and lowered its magic number for securing its first postseason berth since 2011 to five. The Phillies trail the San Diego Padres (86-71) by 1 1/2 games in the chase for the second National League wild card, and Philadelphia is a half-game up on the Milwaukee Brewers (84-73) for the final NL playoff spot.
The Phillies and Nationals are due to meet three more times this season: twice on Saturday and once on Sunday.
Washington is battling all the way to the end of its first 100-loss season since 2009.
“They don’t quit. They’re going to play to the last out,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said of his team, which had the bases loaded with one out in the ninth inning on Friday. “I want them to take the last-inning at-bats into the first inning and work that way.”
Philadelphia’s J.T. Realmuto went 2-for-5 with an RBI and three stolen bases on Friday, giving him 21 steals and 21 home runs this season. He’s just the second 20-20 catcher in major league history, joining Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez, who had 35 homers and 25 stolen bases in 1999.
“He’s been everything for us,” Phillies interim manager Rob Thomson said. “Big hits, controlling the running game. The way he runs the game. I’ve said all along that he should be in the MVP conversation.”
In the first game on Saturday, the Phillies will turn to right-hander Kyle Gibson (10-7, 4.84 ERA). He is coming off a performance in which he allowed five runs on seven hits with nine strikeouts and two walks in five innings during a no-decision against the visiting Atlanta Braves on Sunday.
Gibson was terrific the last time he faced Washington. He held the Nationals to a run on two hits with four strikeouts and a walk over eight innings to lead the Phillies to a 7-2 win on Aug. 5. Gibson is 1-2 with a 7.47 ERA in his three career appearances — all starts — against the Nationals.
Washington will counter with right-hander Anibal Sanchez (3-6, 4.06 ERA), who is coming off one of his best starts of the season. He yielded just two hits over five shutout innings while striking out four and walking two in a 6-1 win over the Miami Marlins on Sunday.
Sanchez is no stranger to the Phillies. He has started 28 games against them as a member of the Marlins, Tigers, Braves or Nationals, going 7-11 with a 4.39 ERA, 128 strikeouts and 74 walks. In his latest start against the Phillies, he allowed a run on two hits in just two innings before a 3 1/2-hour rain delay ended his day earlier than anticipated in a game Philadelphia won 7-5 on Sept. 11.
In the nightcap, the Phillies will start Noah Syndergaard (9-10, 4.12 ERA). The right-hander has gone 2-0 with a 5.73 ERA in two starts against the Nationals since being acquired at the Aug. 2 trade deadline from the Los Angeles Angels.
Washington will give the ball to right-hander Tommy Romero (1-0, 7.71 ERA), who will make his Nationals debut after being claimed off waivers from the Tampa Bay Rays on Aug. 25 and appearing in six games with Triple-A Rochester. Romero, who has never faced the Phillies, will be added as the 29th player for the doubleheader.
–Field Level Media