A split never tasted so sweet.  Max Scherzer’s complete game one hitter that featured 16 strikeouts Sunday against Milwaukee was pure mastery– and Exhibit A for upcoming free agents (Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg) who wonder what it takes to merit a 210 million dollar contract.  Max’s Masterpiece (T-shirts coming to a store near you) was huge for a limping offense that ranks 22nd in the Majors in hitting and 19th in runs scored.  The 4-0 shutout of the Brewers keeps the Nats one half game behind the New York Mets–who have gone from surprising to sustainable.  Sixty plus games is not a fluke–and while one things the bottom could drop out of the little Big Apple team that could, they appear to be in this NL East race for the long haul.  It’s a division that’s ripe to be taken– the Nationals are the only team with a positive run differential (+2) and there’s a ton of baseball to be played. 

 

Danny’s New Glove– after speculating about potential position changes regarding the team’s hot-hitting infielder, Manager Matt Williams moved Espinosa not to the leftfield but 90 feet to his left.  The Nats newest first baseman went 2-for-10 with one run scored in two games at first…let’s see how he settles in.  In the meantime, there’s always a chance the catchers get hurt so perhaps Danny should take some defensive work behind the plate.

 

Last Week’s Hero– Scherzer’s 16 strikeouts while tossing one-hit ball remains the early season pitching standard.  It also snaps a two game losing streak and somehow obscures Bryce Harper hitting .529 with 2 homers and 5 RBI.  Harper sat out Sunday after being hit by a pitch in Saturday’s win…one hopes he doesn’t become a trending target.

Last Week’s Humbled– Ian Desmond went 1 for 21 at the plate…but the low for the shortstop last week was his throwing error in Tuesday’s game with the Yankees that plated the go-ahead run.  Fourteen errors isn’t ideal–but it feels as though each one comes at a crucial moment.

Game to Watch– Friday against Pittsburgh.  Max Scherzer follows up Sunday’s outing by facing A.J. Burnett–who’s posting an ERA of 1.89 through 13 starts this year.  The Pirates are coming off a sweep of Philadelphia that involved a pair of 1-0 shutouts…and are currently in 2nd place of the NL Central.  They’d lead the NL East.

Game to Miss– Monday or Tuesday in Tampa Bay.  WORST BALLPARK EVER!  Plus, there are NHL and NBA Playoff games to deal with.  And no more Joe Maddon in the Rays dugout.   Like the departure of John McKay from the Buccaneers in 1984, Tampa’s team–win or lose–is just a lot less interesting minus their white-haired field general.

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