Tuesday marks Jayson Werth's first game against his former Phillies teammates, after the outfielder signed a seven-year, $126 million deal this offseason. He's off to a slow start, going 0-for-4 in the Nats' past two games to lower his average to .200, with just one home run.
Philadelphia has compiled a 27-9 record against Washington over the last two years, outscoring the Nationals 223-152 in the process. And if that recent history wasn't enough, there's also the team's trajectory. The Phillies have won five straight and 13 of their last 14 series dating back to last season, and they're 5-0 this year when scoring at least three runs.
Washington will be kicking off a six-game homestand -- three games against Philadelphia and three against Milwaukee -- on Tuesday, and veteran Livan Hernandez will be matched against Joe Blanton for the Phillies. Hernandez hasn't won in either of his first two starts, but Washington's starters have completed five innings in each of their first nine games.
The Nationals did that just four times last year in their first nine games, putting their recent run in context. Hernandez got a no-decision in his last start against the Marlins, and he put the blame squarely on himself.
"I threw too many balls. I threw a lot of pitches down and down," said Hernandez of his five-walk outing. "They were not swinging. I threw a couple of good changeups. They didn't swing, and I could do nothing."
Blanton is coming off a similarly adverse outing, a season debut in which he got shelled for 10 hits and seven earned runs. The right-hander couldn't complete five innings, but he wound up with a no-decision in a 10-7 win for the Phillies. Blanton has made 12 career starts against Washington, notching a 3-3 record and a 5.73 ERA.
The Phillies are known for having a strong rotation, but they've been finishing what they start. Philadelphia is 6-1 when it scores first and 7-0 this season when leading after six innings, two categories that were improved by Sunday's victory over Atlanta. The Phillies are 4-2 against division rivals this season and 48-30 against them since the start of 2008.
Phillies: Victorino leading the charge
The Phillies have been getting some explosive play from leadoff man Shane Victorino, who has delivered five consecutive multihit games. Victorino was foundering and batting just .154 when the streak began, but he has seven hits in the last two games alone and has taken his average to .416, tops among Philadelphia regulars.
This team has gotten strong play from the bench so far this season. Philadelphia's reserves are batting .588 (10-for-17) as pinch-hitters this season, and they didn't get their 10th pinch-hit last year until June 6 on their 75th pinch-hit at-bat. Rookie John Mayberry Jr. has four of those hits, and he'll go into Tuesday's game with a .571 average.
Nationals: Burnett racking up scoreless frames
Reliever Sean Burnett is working on a 22-inning scoreless streak that dates back to last season and stands as the team's longest since relocating to Washington in 2005. Starter John Lannan had a 21-inning streak in '08. Burnett's streak dates back to last August, and he's held opposing hitters to a .211 (16-for-76) batting average in his last 20 games.
The Nationals scored two late runs to force extra innings and four more to win Sunday's series finale against the Mets. Ivan Rodriguez had the go-ahead hit in that latter rally and scored on a three-run homer by Laynce Nix.
Philadelphia is 5-0 in day games this year. Last year, the Phillies went 27-24 during the day. ... Washington is 1-1 this season in the decisive game of a three-game series and went 12-12 in that category in 2010. ... Veteran Matt Stairs is one successful pinch-hit away from No. 100 for his career, which would tie him with Rusty Staub for No. 19 on the all-time list. ... The Phillies have had three starters at second base while starter Chase Utley is on the disabled list. ... Shortstop Jimmy Rollins has been hitting .324 as Philadelphia's No. 3 hitter, but he's yet to drive in a run this season.