Let’s begin this week’s edition with proper deference to the masterpiece that was authored by Max Scherzer Saturday:  WOW.  A near-perfect game.  A complete game for the second time in less than a week (the bullpen is sending Scherzer thank-you notes).  In that heat, too (let the record show Scherzer switched shirts in between innings).  Seven year deals are always tricky things and for all we know Max will be a shell of his former self come 2020–but it’s nice to see a big pickup pay off this early into the deal.  Can’t wait for his next start…

Lost in the glare of the no-hitter and the heatbomb that exploded in DC over the weekend was a sweep of a pretty good Pittsburgh team (even after the brooming the Bucs own the second best record in the National League).  Not just a sweep, mind you–but a 19-3 smackdown.  And the team’s first series win since late May (at the Cubs right before getting swept by Cincinnati).  All of a sudden the preseason favorites find themselves atop the NL East;  Atlanta drops by the district this week fresh off their series sweep of the Mets.  Can the Nats create a cushion?

The Bat is More Powerful than the Hamstring– Thursday’s loss to Tampa Bay saw a collective gasp at Nats Park when Bryce Harper went down with a strained hamstring.  The team’s already missing their #3 and #5 hitters (Werth and Zimmerman) and has had to play without their projected leadoff and #2 hitters (Span and Rendon).  If Harper’s hamstring had been a serious injury…look out.  Instead the rightfielder’s back in the lineup and enjoyed another solid week (6 homers and 18 RBI).  He now ranks second in homers and RBI is tied for the Major League lead in walks.  Don’t worry about him potentially going to the Yankees in 2018 or whenever…enjoy the now.  Because it’s pretty incredible.

Last Week’s Hero– Max Scherzer went through the Pirates lineup like a blowtorch through butter…earning a chocolate syrup bath and NL Player of the Week honors.  He’s eaten up innings (ranking and now leads the majors with a 1.76 ERA.  Also contributing to a 5-2 week was Michael A. Taylor;  the outfielder hit .360 while scoring 9 runs and playing solid defense in center and left (his grab Saturday at the wall preserving the no-hitter as well as the shutout).  He actually walked 3 times last week–and that’s a start.

Last Week’s Humbled– Ian Desmond hit .182 while committing another error (giving him 15 for the season).  June has not been kind to the shortstop (.143, 1 walk and 25 strikeouts).

Game to Watch– A first ever THREE WAY TIE.  Tuesday against Atlanta Stephen Strasburg is slated to come off the disabled list.  I want to know if the time in sick bay helped the man who led the NL in strikeouts last year return to form.  Friday Max Scherzer pitches against Aaron Harang in Philly–Scherzer could be going up against Rudy Stein of the Bad News Bears and I’d watch.  But Thursday the pitching matchup is Doug Fister for the Nats against the Braves Matt Wisler.  A Fister-Wisler matchup has the Seinfeld “seltzer-salsa” comedic potential.

Game to Miss– Adams Morgan is an acquired taste for many in and around the beltway.  It’s a great place to go–until all of a sudden you realize you haven’t visited that neighborhood in years.  Saturday at 3:05 Gio Gonzalez starts against rookie Adam Morgan.  Gio pitched well Sunday against Pittsburgh (scattering 4 hits over 7 scoreless innings) but as of this moment he’s the guy in the rotation who moves the needle the least.  Plus–a 3:05 road game means bailing on the pool.  Not going to happen…as long as I have sunscreen.