You never like it when you’re out and about and that one guy in your crew brings up the worst possible result when you’re having a good time.  And then his vision comes true.  Before the west coast swing (that involved Milwaukee, which is on the west shore of Lake Michigan- so there is some semblance of completion) manager Dusty Baker openly mentioned how dreadful a trip like this could be.  Really?  After taking two of three from the Cubs?  Fans chuckled-perhaps even compared him to Lou Holtz dreading Notre Dame-Navy games-as the Nats won their first two from San Diego.  Scherzer pitched well enough to win in the third game…and then the bottom dropped out.  A magnificent seven game losing streak where hitting was weak, pitching was porous, fielding was fickle and the ace had to be reshuffled to the bottom of the deck.  Thank goodness for Tanner Roark…

Adding Injury to Insult- Stephen Strasburg missed his Monday night showdown with Clayton Kershaw due to a strained back…and then six days later was placed on the disabled list.  In a month where pitching has been less than ideal (4.40 ERA), this was not a desired situation.  Avid eyes await his return…

Division Dissection- despite the recent slump, the Nats find themselves three games ahead of the New York Mets and Miami.  The Mets in signing Jose Reyes officially have hit the panic button regarding their inefficient offense-and they’ve been hitting it like a five-year old on an elevator.  The Marlins have won 7 of 10 and have become the “little engine that could” story of the early season…scraping to victories right and left.  Philadelphia and Atlanta remain on the outside looking in…while the Braves have quietly gone 17-21 after losing 28 of their first 39 games.  Traction…

Division to Digest- the Orioles’ five game winning streak gives them a bit of a cushion over Boston and Toronto.  The American League East boasts three of the top nine offenses in the majors while the O’s are the highest scoring team in June (the Blue Jays rank third).  The Orioles are getting this done thanks in part to the best offseason pickup in the AL- Mark Trumbo.  His 22 home runs has already matched his total from last year…and he looks to be on pace to surpass career highs in HR and RBI (34 & 100, set in 2013 while with the Los Angeles Angels).  They’re also winning thanks to a shut-down bullpen:  20-7 with a 2.91 ERA.  Very necessary when your starters are 25-23 with a 4.96 ERA (and that includes Chris Tillman’s 10-1 start). 

Last Week’s Heroes-  TANNER ROARK earns capital letters as he tossed seven strong innings Sunday to help snap the losing streak.  In two starts Roark was 1-1 with a 1.88 ERA, 12 strikeouts and 2 walks.  He also shined at the plate-going 2-5 with 2 walks.  Danny Espinosa tied for the team lead in most home runs and led the club in RBI.  Even if they were 1 and 4, that’s still more than expected for a guy batting eighth.  Wilson Ramos hit .409 in what’s becoming a ho-hum solidly stellar season for the catcher.

Last Week’s Humbled- Michael A. Taylor hit .143 with 8 strikeouts and no walks while committing an error that brought home the deciding run in their last game with the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Ben Revere as a leadoff hitter went .111 with just one walk.  While Gio Gonzalez endures another rough outing (6 earned runs in 3 innings pitched), Max Scherzer continues to cough up home runs (he now leads the National League with 20).  With Strasburg on the shelf, this can’t happen…

Game to Watch- Wednesday Max Scherzer pitches against the Mets’ Steven Matz (I’m already hearing the Seinfeld “salsa-seltzer” bit) in the series finale.  Metz in his last visit to DC struck out 7 over 8 scoreless innings…prompting manager Dusty Baker to name-drop John Matlack in the postgame press conference. Hopefully this series wrap-up will be more Seinfeld than MASH…

Game to Watch II- Tuesday the Nats face the Mets’ Matt Harvey…who has had issues early and often this season.  While he’s yet to win this month, Harvey does boast a 2.88 ERA in June.  Facing him is TBA…thanks to Strasburg’s absence.  Instead of trotting out Yusmeiro Petit (after he pitched well last Monday in a spot start against LA) or a AAA bandaid (Austin Voth is 4-3 with a 2.99 ERA, AJ Cole is 6-4 with an ERA OF 4.35, Paolo Espino is 4-7 but with an ERA of 3.31 and a strikeout to walk ratio of 67-15), it’s prime prospect Lucas Giolito.  I WILL NOT be re-watching the TURN season finale…

Game to Miss- Thursday the Nats exhale with a series opener against NL East cellar-dwelling Cincinnati.  Gio Gonzalez has lost six straight decisions while Brandon Finnegan has lost two consecutive starts.  I will be re-watching the TURN season finale…

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