The Phillies are coming off their first series sweep since late April after taking three from the D-backs. Philadelphia's rotation leads the Major Leagues in shutouts with nine, but all eyes now are on outfielder Peter Bourjos, who has been one of the hottest hitters in baseball during the last few weeks. In his last 17 games, Bourjos is hitting .471 (24-for-51) with eight RBIs.
The Phils are back home after nine games on the road, and they face a Royals team that was 14-25 on the road entering Thursday's game against the Cardinals. Kansas City has its own sizzling hitter -- Kendrys Morales. Entering Thursday's game, Morales was 13 for his last 20 (.650), and 25 for his last 53 (.472.)
After Thursday's off-day, the Philllies will send Jeremy Hellickson, who gave up just one earned run in six innings at AT&T Park in his last start, to the mound against Ian Kennedy and the Royals on Friday in the opener of a three-game set at Citizens Bank Park.
Kennedy struck out 11 while giving up three hits, one walk and one run against the Astros in his last outing.
Things to know about this game • Hellickson is 1-2 with a 5.45 ERA in six starts -- a span of 33 innings -- against the Royals in his career. He's struck out 25 and walked nine.
• Hellickson needs to beware of Royals outfielder Alex Gordon, who over his career is 8-for-16 vs. Hellickson.
Kennedy is 3-3 with a 3.25 ERA over his career against the Phils in eight starts. That includes a three-hit shutout in 2011.
Kennedy has had terrific success against this crop of Phillies, including Ryan Howard, who is 3-for-19, all singles.