Friday, April 10, 2015

Gio, Nationals aiming to get on track vs. Phillies

After losing two out of three games to the Mets to start the 2015 season, the Nationals hit the road to face the Phillies in a three-game series starting on Friday night at Citizens Bank Park.
Although they were not the dominant team they were in the late 2000s, the Phillies gave the Nationals a tough time in their home ballpark last year, winning six out of nine meetings.
In Friday's series opener, right-hander Jerome Williams will take the mound for Philadelphia, while left-hander Gio Gonzalez starts for Washington.
What to watch for:

• Gonzalez missed more than a month last year with a left shoulder injury. During Spring Training this season, Gonzalez showed that he was 100 percent and ready for his first regular-season start of 2015. Gonzalez, who will face the Phillies for the 13th time in his career, is 6-4 with a 3.05 ERA against them. This is not the same dominant Phillies team that the Nationals are used to. Gone are Jimmy Rollins, Marlon Byrd and Kyle Kendrick. But that does not mean the Phillies will be pushovers against Gonzalez. For example, Grady Sizemore is 7-for-14 with three RBIs against the left-hander.
• Williams will face the Nationals for the fifth time in his career. He is 0-1 with a 4.58 ERA against them. The player Williams has to watch out for is Dan Uggla. Although it's a small sample size, Uggla is 2-for-4 with a home run and four RBIs against Williams. Williams was a member of the Nationals in 2007, when he spent a half season with them and was winless in six starts with a 7.20 ERA.
• Phillies second baseman Chase Utley is off to a slow start, but against the Nationals, he's a .270 career hitter with 18 home runs and 90 RBIs. He is 3-for 17 with three RBIs against Gonzalez.

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