BALTIMORE—Are the Washington Nationals starting to get on a roll?
The Nationals have now won seven of nine games and three straight series, capping it off with a 4-1 over the Cincinnati Reds on June 2, taking two of three in that road series.
Pitcher Max Scherzer struck out 15 in eight innings. He gave up one run on three hits and made 120 pitches. The ending of it was amusing when Joey Votto came up with two outs in the eighth, and manager Dave Martinez went to the mount to see how Scherzer was doing.
The pitcher made it clear he did not want to leave. Very clear. So Scherzer stayed on and fanned Votto to end the eighth.
“I knew I was strong,” Scherzer told MLB.com. “My arm felt great. I just wanted the ball in that situation.”
Brian Dozier had one of the game’s key hits, a two-run single in the eighth inning that gave Washington a 4-1 lead.
Scherzer improved to 3-5 this season, but he has a 3.06 ERA while the offense simply has not supported him so far. This time, they supported him just enough, and the right-hander did the rest.
ORIOLES DROP TWO OF THREE TO GIANTS
The song remained the same for the Baltimore Orioles in their weekend series with the San Francisco Giants. Baltimore could not find good starting pitching and come up with enough offense and that let the visiting Giants take two of three.
In fact, San Francisco nearly swept the series. The Giants jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first inning of the May 31 game, the series opener, before Baltimore scored six in the bottom half, thanks in part to a Dwight Smith, Jr. grand slam.
Andrew Cashner gave up those five runs and needed over 40 pitches to get through the first but gutted it out and made it through five innings and earned the 9-6 victory. Renato Nunez and Trey Mancini both homered in the win.
Nunez now has 15 homers this season after adding one the following day and has eight in his last 13 games for 15 this season.
“He’s on fire,” said Tim Cossins, who served as interim manager on June 1 when skipper Brandon Hyde went to Illinois to see his stepdaughter’s graduation. “He went through a little bit of a downturn, and he’s regrouped. He’s swinging the bat really well.”
The Giants then rolled to easy victories over the Orioles the next two days as no Baltimore starter was effective. That’s been the team’s biggest issue all season.
MYSTICS WIN OPENER AT NEW ARENA
The Washington Mystics got some of their injured players back and won their first game ever at the new Entertainment and Sports Arena on June 1.
Elena Delle Donne and Kristi Toliver were back, and while Ariel Atkins led the way with 21 points, the first two players helped. Delle Donne added 18 while Toliver had 10 plus five assists in a 96-75 rout of Atlanta in front of a sellout crowd of 4,200.
That evened Washington’s record at 1-1 after shaky first game versus Connecticut. But the Mystics were home, back in a new building and with some injured players returning. The combination of all that helped everything come together.
“It’s great when you can put on a show like that, especially the first show,” Delle Donne said to The Washington Post. “It’s huge to make a good impression.”