WASHINGTON — They have renamed this ballpark on the banks of the Anacostia River for the weekend. It's now known as "Natitude Park" and there is new signage all across the stadium.
Nationals manager Davey Johnson said he can't spell it.
"I can hardly pronounce the damn word," he said.
Welcome to this rivalry that isn't a rivalry — yet. The Nats are trying desperately in their PR department to make it as such. But the players on the field will determine that.
Washington has a decent first strike in Stephen Strasburg. He's on the mound in the opener and that has prompted Charlie Manuel to use what he affectionately refers to as his "Smurf" lineup.
1. Jimmy Rollins 6
2. Juan Pierre 7
3. Placido Polanco 5
4. Hunter Pence 9
5. Shane Victorino 8
6. Laynce Nix 3
7. Carlos Ruiz 2
8. Pete Orr 4
9. Kyle Kendrick 1
Polanco is the only Phillie with a hit against Strasburg. (He's only faced six hitters in 11 PA.) Manuel said he distinctly recalled that hit — a single up the middle — and that's part of the reason why he wanted Polanco hitting third.
"I put it that way because I want my contact hitters in there," Manuel said. "Strasburg has given up one home run to righthanded hitters. Lefties have hit four off him. I wanted Victorino in the fifth hole and find some balance with my lefties. I have a lefty in front of Chooch and a lefty behind him. Trying to get some contact on the board."
The Nationals counter with a skeleton lineup of their own.
1. Ian Desmond 6
2. Steve Lombardozzi 5
3. Bryce Harper 7
4. Jayson Werth 9
5. Chad Tracy 3
6. Danny Espinosa 4
7. Rick Ankiel 8
8. Jesus Flores 2
9. Stephen Strasburg 1
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