Jul 7, 2015, 3:29 PM EDT
As far as pitching matchups go, they don’t get much better right now than Max Scherzer vs. Johnny Cueto. Scherzer, of course, is in the middle of a historic stretch that has seen him throw a no-hitter, a 1-hitter and strike out 42 batters while walking only one. Cueto, meanwhile, owns a 2.84 ERA and 100 strikeouts to only 20 walks.
The Nats lineup will be shorthanded against Cueto, though. Both Denard Span (back spasms) and Yunel Escobar (tight hamstring) are out of the lineup after leaving last night’s game early. We’ll get updates on both players shortly. It’ll be up to the rest of the crew to cobble together enough run support for Scherzer.
No rain in the forecast, but it is scorching hot and humid today. Check back for updates throughout…
CINCINNATI REDS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM, XM 184
Weather: Partly cloudy, 87 degrees, Wind 7 mph out to CF
CF Michael Taylor
3B Danny Espinosa
RF Bryce Harper
C Wilson Ramos
1B Clint Robinson
2B Dan Uggla
SS Ian Desmond
LF Matt den Dekker
RHP Max Scherzer
2B Brandon Phillips
1B Joey Votto
3B Todd Frazier
RF Jay Bruce
C Brayan Peña
SS Eugenio Suarez
LF Skip Schumaker
RHP Johnny Cueto
CF Billy Hamilton
HP Brian Knight
1B Larry Vanover (cc)
2B Ron Kulpa
3B Vic Carapazza
7:05 p.m. — And we’re underway on a scorching, 89-degree evening. Max Scherzer got a big ovation from the home crowd, which hasn’t seen him pitch here since the no-hitter.
7:29 p.m. — Now THAT was a weird first inning. Scherzer actually looked human for the first time in a long time. His command was all over the place. He surrendered three hits, including drives off the right-center field wall by Joey Votto and Jay Bruce. He was really deliberate on the mound, stepping off the rubber several times. Dan Uggla letting Matt den Dekker’s throw from left field scoot right between his legs didn’t help, but Scherzer was not himself during a 25-pitch, 2-run top of the first. Johnny Cueto was better but far from perfect himself. The Nats put two guys on base, with Votto flat-out dropping Cueto’s routine throw to first allowing Danny Espinosa to reach safely. And Bryce Harper blooped a single to left. But the Nats couldn’t push across a run, with Wilson Ramos grounding out and Clint Robinson flying out to center. So after one, it’s 2-0 Cincinnati.
7:40 p.m. — Much better stuff from Scherzer in the top of the second. He retired the side on nine pitches, so he’s at 34 total through two. Cueto also retired the side in the bottom of the inning. Still 2-0 Reds.
7:52 p.m. — Votto is just owning Scherzer tonight. After doubling off the wall in the first, he just homered off the back wall of the right-field bullpen in the third. Scherzer has already given up three runs in three innings. The Nats, meanwhile, have only Harper’s bloop single to their tally against Cueto so far. 3-0 Cincinnati after three.
8:07 p.m. — This sums up the Nats’ offensive attack so far tonight vs. Cueto: Harper is 1-for-1 with a walk, everybody else is 0-for-13. They’ve had two guys reach base on errors, but Wilson Ramos just ran himself into an out in the bottom of the fourth. Trying to avoid an easy double play on a grounder to second, he eluded Brandon Phillips’ tag, but assumed he was called out for being out of the baseline. Except he wasn’t. Had he kept running to second, he would’ve been safe. Instead, he was tagged out to complete the double play. Bad baseball. Still 3-0 Reds after four.
8:37 p.m. — Well, this obviously wasn’t Scherzer’s night. He wound up getting yanked after only 4 2/3 innings, having matched his season high with five runs allowed on seven hits. He failed to complete six innings for the first time in 23 starts, a streak dating back to last year with Detroit. Meanwhile, Ian Desmond led off the bottom of the fifth with a triple … and didn’t score. That kind of a night. 5-0 Cincy after five.
Chase taking over while Mark writes his game story
8:58 p.m. — The sixth inning was a quick one, as Taylor Jordan allowed only a walk to Schumaker and the Nats went down 1-2-3. Cueto is in complete control against a Nats’ lineup that is missing five regulars. He added a pair of strikeouts in the sixth to push his total to eight and has thrown 88 pitches on the night.
9:13 p.m. — Another inning with little coming on offense for either team. The Reds got Phillips on to lead off the seventh on an error by Espinosa. He misplayed a hard groundball at third that bounced off his glove and into left field. The Nats would go down in order and strike out twice. Cueto now has 10 strikeouts on the evening. He’s thrown exactly 100 pitches, but as of now there is no activity in Cincinnati’s bullpen.
9:28 p.m. — Still 5-0 here at Nationals Park as Sammy Solis will take over to pitch the ninth. Cueto carved the Nats up on 11 pitches in the eighth and has 111 for the night. That will probably be it for him.
9:36 p.m. — Nats lose 5-0 to the Reds, as Cueto pitches a shutout. They will try to avoid the sweep tomorrow with Gio Gonzalez on the mound.
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
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As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...
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