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About to play Royals, Phillies consider momentum shift at just the right time

How much of what they learned from sweeping the Diamondbacks can be transferred to a three-game set with the world champs?

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Phillies: Well well well, look who decided to show up in Arizona. There was a sweep out in the desert, but this time, it was the Phillies on the winning side. I know! Was this a case of a momentous turnaround for this beleaguered club, or merely a few lucky wins that happened because the Diamondbacks are equally incompetent in a lot of ways? The answer to your question is that we're not going to talk about this.

The Royals: We're not going to talk about it because, look who it is, the damn Royals, in all of their fast-moving, powder blue, World Series-winning, ballot-stuffing glory. They're gonna be out for blood, too, since the Indians are running away with the AL Central. Little do they know, the Phillies just swept a bad NL West team, so, naturally, they're ready for anything! I have no evidence to support this claim.

Heavy Hitters

Kendrys Morales: He's 13 for his last 23 with two home runs. Maybe just don't pitch to this guy. Maybe just don't pitch to most of these guys. Maybe just don't hit it to him either.

Alcides Escobar: Escobar boosted the Royals when they were down, the night they lost Lorenzo Cain to a hamstring pop, and gave them not one, but two clutch lead-changing hits.

Jarrod Dyson: Speaking of Cain, the Royals have another fast, exciting young outfielder just waiting to take his place while he heals. Dyson is already 2-for-3 with a double and two walks this week. A key part of the Phillies' plan in nullifying him is Cameron Rupp tying Dyson's shoelaces together, but I don't want to put all my eggs in that basket.

Peter Bourjos: Yeah this is still happening.

Cesar Hernandez: We have a whole thing on this. Hernandez is following Bourjos back from the brink.

Jimmy Paredes: Was it Paredes' rally-igniting, lead-off, pinch hit double on Sunday that helped the Phillies beat the Diamondbacks, or was it Zack Greinke leaving the game early with an injury? It's impossible to tell.

Probable Pitchers

Ian Kennedy vs. Jeremy Hellickson, 7:05 p.m.

Oh. This is where Ian Kennedy is. That's cool. And he shut down the streaking Astros with 11 K's in a 6-1 victory his last time out. Also... cool. I guess. He was able to do this with the help of a fastball that the speed of which he could fluctuate by small amounts, allowing for more pinpoint timing from hitters (who failed to hit it). Let's see if this free-swinging Phillies lineup can wrap their heads around this.

Fellow ex-Snake hurler Hellickson will defend the Phillies honor on this day, even though he - apparently - left his last start with a sore back. Since he left after six innings, it was tough to differentiate between this and one of his regular, non-injury exits. Maybe just don't swing so hard, Hellboy. You can't save this team all by yourself.

Danny Duffy vs. Aaron Nola, 5:50 p.m.

Duffy holds the Kansas City rotation's best ERA at 3.24 with 10.7 SO/9, and he, too, helped them through a defeat over the Cardinals, as did his predecessor Kennedy. It's at the point with Duffy this year that the Royals maybe should consider extending him, even though he leaves a lot of innings on his plate.

Aaaaaaaron Nolaaaaa. Damn. He was battered by the Giants last time out, and... eh, pass. I'm pass on talking about this. Paragraph over.

TBD vs. Vince Velasquez, 1:35 p.m.

Are we seriously not going to face Yordano Ventura? If anything was going to keep this team's screaming momentum intact, it'd be a bench-clearing brawl. I've got the feeling that Larry Bowa is building to a blood-spitting meltdown ever since he didn't get to kill anybody over Johnny Cueto pegging Maikel Franco with a pitch (that we know of).

Velasquez came back from a bicep strain and threw five furious innings against the D-Backs that made everyone smile and wave to their neighbors the next morning. On 90 pitches, he fanned seven Snakes, and afterward started talking to reporters like he was doing the voiceover for a sports drink commercial.

"I had no hesitation," Velasquez said. "No doubts. No nothing."

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