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Terrified Nationals host Phillies with memories of sweep still vivid

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The Nationals, shaken from their last encounter with the Phillies, will be forced, quivering, to play them again.

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PICTURED: Division leaders.
PICTURED: Division leaders.
Drew Hallowell

What more can there be to preempt yet another Nationals-Phillies series? The Nationals are still good - yes, they did suffer a humiliating sweep at the hands of the Phillies in their last meeting, and no, they've never no-hit the Braves while simultaneously showcasing the value of teamwork - but are still somehow allowed to be in first place.

The Nationals are punching the bejeezus out of the ball. After hitting less than 20 home runs as a team in June and July, they snuck 40 in August. More on that later.

The Braves may be the most racist franchise in the NL East, but the Nationals remain the most insufferable, with their fans constantly comparing themselves to puppies and feeling like they truly deserve the feel-good story that they've become. They don't make mistakes - they're the victims of everything.

HEADLINE NEWS: NATIONALS OUTFIELDER HAS REASON FOR GLARING, RUN-ALLOWING ERROR!

Heavy Hitters

Bryce Harper

Harper has been racking up the accomplishments.

Adam LaRoche

Christ, isn't he hurt? I guess everybody gets called into action during a 14-inning marathon. LaRoche came off the bench in the ninth inning and when the box score finalized he finished the night with five RBI. Baseball: It's a real dumb game.

Denard Span

The Nat's leadoff hitter smacked two home runs in one game against the Dodgers as well. But is he contending for a batting title with Josh Harrison and Justin Morneau while maintaining a sub-.700 OPS, like a real center fielder? What is even going on anymore.

The Nationals

Just everybody, okay? It's everybody.

Part of what's fueling the Nationals' hideously cliché season is the home run ball, which went away for a little while, but resurfaced at the end of August, when the team hit six (four off Felix Hernandez) in a single game against the Mariners, bringing their aforementioned monthly total to 40, which was second only to the frightful display the Orioles are putting on in Baltimore (47 dingers in August) and only the second time in their franchise history that they hit the 40 watermark.

Chase Utley

Hey, good lookin'.

Probable Starters

Jerome Williams vs. Stephen Strasburg

What a matchup of each team's number on starter! Strasburg, a leader in the NL in starts and strikeouts, a departure for the 25-year-old after years of the Nationals hovering over him like a protective mother.

Williams, an August acquisition because holy shit, somebody has to pitch fourth. And yet, Williams has remained a dominant, un-iced arm for the Phillies, giving up two earned runs in his last 21 innings.

Two young phenoms. Ace vs. ace. Williams vs. Strasburg.

Be there.

A.J. Burnett vs. Tanner Roark

Burnett is officially the first pitcher to have a 12-strikeout game with five different teams. He also is tied with Strasburg for the league lead in starts, with only almost twice the number of walks. But only one of his league leading 78 walks came in his last start, in which he went six innings and struck out eight. And had five earned runs. He also has a 10.57 ERA in Nationals Park and a 4.13 ERA against the Nationals. So.

Cole Hamels vs. Gio Gonzalez

In his last start, Hamels threw the six hitless innings that inspired the first combined no-hitter in Phillies history.

Meanwhile, Gonzalez was giving up a two-run home in the first innings of a game against the Dodgers, then had to work hard to finally not lose for the first time in six starts. Pathetic.

Editor's Note: SB Nation's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $18,000 Fantasy Baseball league for tonight's MLB games. It's $2 to join and first prize is $2,000. Jump in now. Here's the FanDuel link.