Nats-Phils square off in pivotal series

Originally Published: August 15, 2005
By Buster Olney | ESPN The Magazine

Brett Myers
Myers

Livan Hernandez
Hernandez

7:05 p.m. ET: The Big Series will be in Philadelphia, where the Nationals and Phillies are set to begin a four-game wild-card showdown. The Nationals are one game behind the Astros, and the Phillies are a half-game behind, and they've got their respective aces throwing tonight -- Livan Hernandez of the Nationals against Brett Myers of the Phillies.

8:05 p.m. ET: Who would have thought there would be no implications for the AL Central race in a mid-August series between the White Sox and Twins? That's the situation. The White Sox are coasting to the division title, yet they need to start playing better, while the Twins are fighting for their playoff lives these days, so there will be some tension. Kyle Lohse throws the first game of the series tonight, against Chicago's Jose Contreras.

9:05 p.m. ET: Ben Sheets goes for victory No. 9 in Colorado, where the Rockies are not hitting -- still, Todd Helton is The Most Likely Guy To Go Deep today. Aaron Cook throws for Colorado. Helton has just three hits in 13 career at-bats against Sheets, but two of those are home runs.

Barry Zito
Zito

Rodrigo Lopez
Lopez

10:05 p.m. ET: Rafael Palmeiro got a mixture of boos and cheers in Baltimore on Sunday, but the crowd in Oakland won't be quite so conflicted this week. Palmeiro won't play tonight against Athletics lefty Barry Zito; Rodrigo Lopez starts for Baltimore. Oakland is 2½ games ahead in the wild-card race.

10:05 p.m. ET: The Must-Watch Game of the Night will be in Seattle, where King Felix makes his third career start for the Mariners. Felix Hernandez is 1-1 with a 0.69 ERA after his first two starts, having allowed just eight hits and two walks in 13 innings, with 10 strikeouts. And King Felix is throwing against Kansas City, which hasn't won a game since the Ice Age; the Royals have lost 15 straight. Because all logic points to a Seattle victory, the Royals are The Reverse Lock of the Day.

Buster Olney is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. His book, "The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty," is available in paperback and can be ordered through HarperCollins.com.

Buster Olney | email

Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine