While the Phillies play their second of three games north of the border Saturday afternoon (see game notes), injured catcher Carlos Ruiz is active but not in the starting lineup.
Originally thought to be out with an oblique strain, Ruiz said he believes he merely has a cramp (see story). The Phils called up catcher Erik Kratz from Lehigh Valley (see story).
Here’s what’s going on around the NL East as Interleague play presses on:
Yankees at Nationals, 1:05 p.m.
Two of the hottest teams in baseball will meet again Saturday afternoon at Nationals Park. Friday night, the Yankees, who have won 10 of 11, ended the Nationals’ six-game winning streak. Andy Pettitte will face Jordan Zimmermann.
Pettitte, who recently came out of retirement, carries a 3-2 record and 2.81 ERA in six starts. He’s found a groove lately, allowing just two earned runs in 13 1/3 innings in his last two starts while striking out 18 and walking four. In six career starts against the Nationals/Expos, the 40-year-old is 3-1 with a 4.29 ERA.
Zimmermann will face the task of trying to shut down New York’s offense, which has been averaging 5.2 runs per game in June — something Gio Gonzalez couldn’t do Friday. Though his 3-5 record doesn’t show it, Zimmermann has been one of the most consistent pitchers for the Nationals this year, with a 2.91 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 4.3 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He has lasted at least six innings in all 12 of his starts — something Steven Strasburg and Gonzalez can’t claim.
Orioles at Braves, 7:15 p.m.
After ending their four-game skid Friday, the Braves look to win their second in a row against the Orioles on Saturday night at Turner Field. Both Atlanta and Baltimore sit in second in their respective divisions.
Brandon Beachy will get the ball for the Braves. His 1.98 ERA leads the majors, but the 25-year-old has slowed as of late. In his four starts since May 17 — his last win — he is 0-3 with a 3.47 ERA. He will make his second career start against Baltimore.
The O’s will counter with Jason Hammel, who has anchored their rotation all season with a 6-2 record and 3.22 ERA. He has been significantly better at Camden Yards, however, as his 3.76-split ERA on the road sits 1.23 points higher than his home ERA. In his career against Atlanta, the former Rockie has struggled, going 0-3 with a 9.00 ERA in five starts.
Marlins at Rays, 7:15 p.m.
Losers in 10 of their last 11, the downward-spiraling Marlins seek to turn it around against the Rays on Saturday night at Tropicana Field. Miami is 0-4 against its cross-state rival so far this season.
Taking the hill for Miami is Anibal Sanchez, who has taken the losing decision in five of his last six starts. Overall, the Marlins hurler is 3-5 with a 3.40 ERA. His last start came against Tampa Bay six days ago — he allowed four runs in six frames while striking out two and walking three in a losing effort.
In a rematch of that June 10 game, James Shields will oppose Sanchez once again. The 30-year-old righthander has been mediocre this year after having a breakout season in 2011. He is 7-4 with a 4.06 ERA in 13 starts, but after tossing 11 complete games a year ago, he has yet to go the distance in 2012.
Reds at Mets, 7:15 p.m.
In the day’s only National League game, Jonathon Niese will lead the Mets against Homer Bailey as New York eyes revenge after Friday’s 7-3 loss to Cincinnati.
After a rough May during which Niese was tagged with a 6.07 ERA, he has shut down opponents in June, not allowing an earned run in 13 innings while whiffing 16 and walking only two. He is 1-1 with a 5.79 ERA in three career starts against the Reds.
Bailey is 4-4 with a 4.35 ERA for NL Central-leading Cincinnati this year. He has been roughed up in two June starts, allowing nine runs in 9 2/3 innings. He enjoys pitching away from the hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park — his 3.49 road ERA is considerably better than his 5.35 average at home.