The Phillies have reached the point where Daniel Nava is the lifeblood of their mostly lifeless lineup. Nava, who came into Spring Training on a minor-league deal, with no guarantee of even making the team, brought his average up to .313 after going 3 for 4 with a walk Wednesday night in the leadoff spot.
The Phillies are 5-2 on the season when Nava bats first. He's batting first again for Thursday's series finale with the Pirates.
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Nava's success means the Phillies have four outfielders that need to play. Nick Williams was promoted to be out there every day. He's absent for the lineup Thursday, but simply getting a scheduled day off. A struggling Aaron Altherr, who has just one home run since June 19, is back after not starting last night.
Freddy Galvis remains in two-spot, followed by Michael Franco in the three-hole. The two have combined for three home runs in the series. That's where the offensive production ends. The Phillies went 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position Wednesday, and 0 for 10 the day before. Clutch hits are nowhere to be found - more depressing figures in today's game notes.
Odubel Herrera remains in the bottom half of the lineup as the six-hitter. Andrew Knapp catches for the second-straight day, batting seventh.
The Phillies will send Jeremy Hellickson to the hill tonight. Every start for the right-hander is a chance to see his trade value shift, and the Phillies obviously would like to see it rise. After a so-so result against the Mets over the weekend, in which he surrendered four runs over 6 1/3 innings, Hellickson faces a Pirates team that mustered two hits against him in six innings earlier this season. No current Pirate has homered off Hellickson.
The Pirates will send out native Delawarean Chad Kuhl. He's 2-6 with a 5.26 ERA but did well against the Phillies on May 21, allowing one hit over five shutout innings.
Here's the full Phillies lineup:
1. Daniel Nava, LF
2. Freddy Galvis, SS
3. Maikel Franco, 3B
4. Tommy Joseph, 1B
5. Aaron Altherr, RF
6. Odubel Herrera, CF
7. Andrew Knapp, C
8. Andres Blanco, 2B
9. Jeremy Hellickson, P