It’s not just the new stadium that has the Washington Nationals excited.
The Nationals try to continue their fast start and complete a three-game sweep of the Phillies as their series concludes Thursday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.
Washington (3-0) showed it can outscore opponents in the series opener - an 11-6 victory Monday - and then proved itself capable of outpitching them in a 1-0 win Wednesday. Tim Redding scattered one hit and three walks in seven-plus innings before Luis Ayala and Jon Rauch each pitched one inning of hitless relief as the Nationals opened 3-0 for the first time since 2003, when the team was located in Montreal.
“We believe,” Redding said. “We believe we can compete and play with anybody in the league, whether it’s Philadelphia, New York, Atlanta or Florida.”
The franchise hasn’t started 4-0 since 1983, and no team located in the nation’s capital has opened with four straight wins since the Nationals did so in 1951.
Moyer, who went 14-12 with a 5.01 ERA last year, is back for his 22nd season in the majors and second full season with the Phillies after being acquired prior to the 2006 trade deadline. The 45-year-old left-hander has been stunningly durable - he was two-thirds of an inning shy of reaching 200 for the eighth consecutive year - and his 230 wins are fourth among active pitchers - trailing Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson and Mike Mussina.
Moyer was efficient in going 2-0 with a 2.33 ERA in three starts versus the Nationals last season, allowing six runs while striking out 16 in 19 1-3 innings. He is 8-4 with a 2.91 ERA in 17 lifetime starts and 18 overall appearances, and has not lost to the Nationals in six starts dating to April 17, 1991, when the franchise was the Montreal Expos.
Pedro Feliz had the lone hit for the Phillies (0-2), a two-out single in the second inning. Philadelphia has not been shut out in consecutive games since Sept. 11-12, 1999, at Arizona, and not been swept at home in a three-game series to the Nationals-Expos franchise since July 4-6, 2002.
Jason Bergmann (6-6, 4.45) will try to lead the Nationals to the sweep. He went 5-1 after the All-Star break last season to secure a spot in the rotation this year. The right-hander allowed three runs or less in seven of his final nine starts, but he struggled against the Phillies throughout 2007.
Bergmann was 0-1 with a 4.18 ERA in five starts versus Philadelphia last season, giving up 12 runs in 23 2-3 innings while striking out 21. He is 0-2 lifetime in eight overall appearances against the Phillies.