Truth: Nationals at Phillies, 9/28-30

September 28: Phillies 6, Nationals 0 WP: Hamels (15-5) LP: Redding (3-6)
September 29: Nationals 4, Phillies 2 WP: Chico (7-9) LP: Eaton (10-10) S: Cordero (37)
September 30: Phillies 6, Nationals 1 WP: Moyer (14-12) Bergmann (6-6)

For more on the Nationals, please visit our SBN sister site Federal Baseball

It's been a pretty interesting ride thus far--the 4-11 start, waves of injuries, the disasters of Adam Eaton and Freddy Garcia, the incandescent excellence of Cole Hamels and the revelation of Kyle Kendrick, Aaron Rowand's surprising excellence, Pat Burrell's sudden redemption and Jimmy Rollins making history. An offense that couldn't be stopped and a pitching staff that, all too often, couldn't stop anyone.

But what happens in the next 48 hours will determine how this 2007 season sits in memory: as a new, glorious chapter in the history of baseball's most star-crossed franchise or merely trivia and diversion along the way to yet another disappointment.

The Phillies have everything to play for after again seizing control of their own destiny--a situation in which, not just this year but all decade, they've always spit the bit. The Nationals gave the Phils all they could handle in Washington last weekend, then headed north to Shea Stadium and pushed New York City to the brink of psychological collapse by sweeping the Mets. They're loose and looking to tie a bow on a season that's gone better than anyone could have hoped.

Dave earlier laid out the numbers: the Phils have played Washington pretty well this season. But if the last six months have told us anything, it's that nothing can be predicted. Either team could sweep--as could the Mets and Marlins, who will square off at Shea. Cole Hamels is 3-2 with a 3.12 ERA in eight career starts against the Nationals; Saturday starter Eaton is 1-0, 4.89 in six starts, and Jamie Moyer, who's slated to pitch the regular season finale, is 5-4, 3.18 against the Nationals franchise. Tim Redding, brilliant against the Phillies in Washington last weekend, is 2-1 with a 2.84 ERA against them in five career starts. Matt Chico allowed four runs to the Phils in 4.2 IP of one start against them. Jason Bergmann, who shut the Phillies down in the first game of last weekend's four-game set but took a no-decision when the Phils rallied late, is 0-1, 3.29 in seven career appearances (four starts) against them.

The Phils' best hitters against Washington this year have been Chase Utley (.375/.492/.583), who's probably still bearing a grudge for that month he missed when Nationals rookie John Lannan broke his hand in July, and Rowand (.323/.343/.615). Ryan Howard is batting just .241 against the Nats, but five of his 13 hits off Washington pitching have left the yard. Austin Kearns, who had a couple big hits in Washington's 5-3 win over the Phils on Sunday, is their leading hitter in the series with a .333 average and .899 OPS.

Six months come down to three games, with everything on the line. It starts at 7 tonight.

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