Philly reacts to Nationals' division title

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Philly reacts to Nationals' division title

When the Washington Nationals clinched the N.L. East on Monday night, it came with a set of bizarre circumstances. Not only did they secure the title at the end of a game they would soon after lose, their opponent on the field was the very team they were supplanting after a five-year reign. Despite being out of it for months, the Phillies were the defending champs and until last night had bragging rights over their upstart rivals.

In a game the Nationals lost, they won at the same time. And conversely, the Phillies lost on a night they won.

So after the crown had officially changed hands, the reactions from both teams and their media contingents were obviously much different. Those roles have also switched with the Philly side now taking stock in a season that will end after game number 162.

We went around the internet looking for the Phillies reaction to Monday night and here is what we found.

Philadelphia Daily News columnist David Murphy seems pretty upset about the loss:

"Cliff Lee once famously said Philadelphia fans do not need a teleprompter to know when to cheer. Well, neither do Nationals fans. They need a Hype Guy, which is really just another name for a male cheerleader who bounces up and down from section to section like a tailless, jersey-wearing Tigger, screaming and whistling and annoying the bejesus out of anybody who might actually be attempting to monitor pitch locations and secondary leads and other less, well, "hype" aspects of the game.

Nationals Park is not a place of nuance. It is all concrete and aluminum and national advertisements; game day is a succession of desperate gimmicks broken up by nine innings of baseball. During the early stages of Monday night's game, it was not immediately clear which was greater: the dramatic tension that surrounded the Nationals' unresolved quest to clinch the NL East, or that which surrounded a foam Teddy Roosevelt's quest to clinch his first-ever victory in a race against other presidential mascotcaricatures. See, the mascot race, while cliche from its inception, has nevertheless evolved to occupy a central role in the Nationals Park game-day experience, with poor Teddy doing his best Bull Moose Party impression and falling flat on his face during each competition."

"Without a doubt, it is different here. The excitement is more manufactured, the emotion less raw than it is in the historic sporting hotbeds of the Northeast, where the meaning of the mission has been passed down for generations."

(As if the Phillies sold out games when they were bad)

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel goes down fighting:

It made me mad, yeah, yes it did, Manuel said about the Nationals claiming what the Phillies had owned for the last five years. Im a bad loser. Nobody should be a good loser. Im a bad loser and I always will be.

Ive been mad for three or four weeks. It just hadnt been coming out.

Manuel again:

"That is the first time I ever won and got beat."

CSNphilly.com columnist John Gonzalez has an interesting metaphor for the new division champs:

"And so they went down to D.C. to play the final series of the season three games against the Washington Nationals, who have been perched atop the NL East almost all year long, like some strange gargoyle that was unexpectedly added to the top of a previously beautiful building"

The Courier Post doesn't have much on the game itself, but their headline seems to have an opinion on the night:

"Phillies spoil Nats clincher"

NL East: For one day, Harvey silences critics with dominant outing

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NL East: For one day, Harvey silences critics with dominant outing

In New York, where your every move is dissected to a T by fans and media, achieving and maintaining sports stardom can be difficult to do. Just ask Matt Harvey, who went from being the toast of the town while helping the Mets to the World Series last October to having his ability (and character) roundly criticized after his rough start to the 2016 season. And after he lost back-to-back outings against the Nationals recently, it seemed like he had reached rock bottom. 

But for one outing, the man known as "The Dark Knight" managed to silence his critics with a vintage performance against the Chicago White Sox on Memorial Day. He allowed just two hits over seven shutout frames, striking out six and issuing just one walk in the Mets' 1-0 win. The victory raised his record to 4-7 and lowered his ERA to 5.37. 

And unlike his previous start, he addressed the media after the game. Per MLB.com: 

"There's a lot of emotion....It's been a while.…The idea is to do everything you can to help the team, and I felt like I wasn't doing that very well. Today, to be able to go out in a one-run ballgame like that and be able to put up zeros, was very exciting."

The difference for Harvey on Monday was establishing his dominant fastball that had been missing for most of the first two months of the season. His heater was clocked as high as 98 mph, a marked improvement over his previous starts. 

Harvey was considered a hero in 2015, his first full campaign post-Tommy John surgery, as he pitched a total of 216 innings between the regular season and the playoffs. No pitcher had ever thrown that many innings in the first season following the procedure. And it's precisely that fact that many have pointed to when discussing whether or not the 27-year-old right hander is still feeling the effects from last year's overuse. 

So will Harvey return to form? Can he reclaim his status at the Mets ace? It's too early to tell, but Monday's outing was the first that provided a light at the end of the tunnel. Just don't expect the circus to end anytime soon.  

"I think it's a first step," Harvey said. "Obviously, this isn't going to mean anything unless I continue to do this and stay with what we've been working on. It's a work in progress, but I'm happy that I was able to go out there, feel comfortable in my mechanics and get the job done."

Bryce Harper out of Nats lineup day after getting hit vs. Phillies

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Bryce Harper out of Nats lineup day after getting hit vs. Phillies

Nats (31-21) vs. Phillies (26-25) at Citizens Bank Park

Fresh off their comeback victory on Monday night, the Nationals will look to make it three straight wins overall as the continue their series against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Bryce Harper is out of the Nationals' lineup on Tuesday after he took a pitch off his right leg on Monday night. Harper was diagnosed with a contusion on his right leg and, as of last night, was considered day-to-day according to what manager Dusty Baker told reporters in Philly.

Pitching for the Nats will be Joe Ross (4-4, 2.52) in his 10th start of the season. He's coming off a strong performance of seven innings and just one earned run against the Cardinals. Ross saw the Phillies back on April 15 and tossed 7 2/3 scoreless frames in a Nationals win.

Former seventh overall pick Aaron Nola (4-3, 2.86) will take the mound for Philly. He's faced the Nats twice this season, once allowing seven earned runs in five innings on April 16 and then the other time going seven shutout frames in a Phillies win on April 28.

First pitch: 7:05 p.m.
TV: MASN2
Radio: 106.7 The Fan, XM 869
Starting pitchers: Nats - Joe Ross vs. Phillies - Aaron Nola

NATS

CF Ben Revere
RF Jayson Werth
2B Daniel Murphy
1B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Clint Robinson
3B Anthony Rendon
C Wilson Ramos
SS Danny Espinosa
RHP Joe Ross

PHILLIES

CF Odubel Herrera
SS Freddy Galvis
3B Maikel Franco
C Cameron Rupp
1B Ryan Howard
LF Tyler Goeddel
RF David Lough
2B Cesar Hernandez
RHP Aaron Nola

Follow along with GameView here

Zimmerman heating up for Nats, Papelbon can't solve Philly

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Zimmerman heating up for Nats, Papelbon can't solve Philly

Here are a few leftover thoughts from Monday night's Nationals win over the Phillies…

Is Zimmerman finally starting to heat up?

Ryan Zimmerman missed his ninth homer of the season by a matter of inches on Monday night as he watched his long flyball in the seventh inning bounce off the railing in center field at Citizens Bank Park. Instead, it was his first triple since last April and the 20th of his career. A 12-year veteran, Zimmerman is usually good for one or two of them per season.

The triple was Zimmerman's fourth extra-base hit in his last three games and his 15th of the month of May. In April he only had four extra-base hits the entire month. Zimmerman's four XBHs are the most he's had in a three-game span all season. Over his last 19 games he has seven homers, 12 RBI, eight walks, a .355 OBP and a 1.007 OPS.

Zimmerman is still hitting just .244 this year through 46 games and .247/.309/.769 since the start of 2015 (141 G). But perhaps this recent stretch can get him going. All year it has been pointed out how highly he ranks in average exit velocity - currently 11th in MLB at 94.7 miles per hour - and it may now be starting to pay off. 

Papelbon keeps having trouble with the Phillies

Jonathan Papelbon earned his 14th save of the season on Monday night, but once again it was an eventful outing against his former team. Papelbon served up back-to-back doubles to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning, the second by Ryan Howard. That brought home Maikel Franco and cut the Nationals' lead to 4-3 with no outs.

Papelbon escaped, but it wasn't easy. Since getting traded from Philadelphia to Washington, Papelbon has blown two saves and has allowed six earned runs in 5 2/3 innings (9.53 ERA) against the Phillies. 

Compare those numbers to what he's done against the rest of the league since joining the Nats and it will make you scratch your head. Papelbon has a 2.09 ERA (9 ER in 38.2 IP) with the Nats against non-Phillies teams. The Phillies are 29th in baseball in runs scored this season, too. There doesn't seem to be a good reason for it, but Papelbon just can't solve his former team.

Roark goes seven strong innings

Tanner Roark continues to bounce back nicely from his May 14 disaster against the Marlins, his worst start of the season. In his three outings since, Roark has allowed just four earned runs in 20 2/3 total innings. In four of his last five starts Roark has gone at least six innings with two runs or less allowed. 

Roark now has a 2.70 ERA, which ranks just third on the Nats but 13th overall in the National League. He places sixth in slugging percentage against (.304) and 11th in the NL in OPS against (.607). One stat that really stands out for Roark is his groundball rate. His groundball/flyball ratio is 1.94, which ranks third in the NL and seventh in baseball.

As good as Roark has been, the Nats are just 4-7 in his starts this season and have lost five of his last seven outings. He's been killed by a lack of run support, ranking fifth from the bottom (100th among qualifying pitchers) with an average of 2.55 runs per game scored by his team. Stephen Strasburg, who is a perfect 9-0 and has seen the Nats win his last 15 starts dating back to last season, is second from the top with an average of seven runs scored per start.

Revere keeps searching for consistency

Ben Revere went 0-for-4 on Monday and is now hitless in three straight games and in five of his last six. He's still not striking out, which is good. Revere only has one strikeout in his last eight games, a span of 30 at-bats, and he has the best contact percentage on the Nats (88.6%). 

And when Revere gets hits, they tend to come in bunches. In each of the last five games he's notched a hit, he's landed at least two in those contests. That gives him a .282/.333/.436 slash-line over the last 11 games. That's not bad, but it has been feast or famine for the outfielder with six hitless outings during that stretch.