By Rich Dubroff
CSNwashington.comBryce Harper turned and ran back until he was almost touching the scoreboard. Lucas Dudas fly ball was beautiful to watch as it stayed in the air for several seconds.When it finally landed, it wasnt in Harpers glove nor was it against the scoreboard, but in the first row of the outfield seats, and Duda had a two-run home run.Almost miraculously, those were the first two runs Chien-Ming Wang allowed in the Nationals 3-1 loss to the New York Mets before 32,096 at Nationals Park on Thursday afternoon. By the fifth inning, Wang, in his second rough start since returning from a left hamstring injury that delayed his season, had given the Mets countless scoring opportunities.
After 5 23 innings, two runs, eight hits, three walks a hit batsman and a collision with first baseman Adam LaRoche, Davey Johnson had seen enough of Wang.Somehow, some way, it was only 2-0 when he left. The Mets loaded the bases in the second and third, but Wang (1-2)ended both innings on grounders hit back to him. In the third, Daniel Murphy hit the ball crisply to him, and Wang started a neat 1-2-3 double play.When Wang returned, Johnson put Ross Detwiler in the bullpen. He may rethink the decision.The Nationals (32-23) did nothing against knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. The 37-year-old, who hadnt lasted in the majors for a full season untll last year, recorded his first career shutout in his last start on Saturday, and he simply toyed with Washington.Dickey (9-1) faced just two over the minimum for the first six innings, and allowed just one fly ball, a sinking liner by Steve Lombardozzi that center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis caught only by diving to end the third. Everything else was easy.In the seventh, Ryan Zimmerman led off with a single, just the third Nationals hit. LaRoche, who survived the collision near first base with Wang, in the fourth, walked, but Michael Morse hit into a fielders choice and Ian Desmond hit into a double play.Dickey was pulled after Jhonathan Solano singled with one out in the eighth. He allowed four hits in 7 13 innings, walking two and striking out eight. Bobby Parnell walked Rick Ankiel and ended the inning by retiring Lombardozzi and Harper on groundouts. Zimmerman hit a home run to left-center field, leading off the ninth, breaking the shutout against Frank Francisco. LaRoche, Morse and Desmond were retired, and Francisco had his 15th save.Against Tom Gorzelanny in the seventh, New York (32-26) scored on an RBI single by Daniel Murphy to make it 3-0.
NOTES:-The Mets stole three bases off Solano.-The Nationals play three games at Fenway Park beginning Friday. Stephen Strasburg (6-1, 2.35) is scheduled to face Felix Doubront (6-2, 3.75). Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann pitch on Saturday and Sunday against Daisuke Matsuzaka and Jon Lester. Saturdays game will begin at 4:05 p.m.After three games in Toronto, the Nationals return to host the Yankees on June 15.
Bring out the powder blues!
In the decade and a half since the Nationals franchise relocated from Montreal to Washington, D.C. in 2005, the Nationals have only worn throwback uniforms honoring the Washington Senators, who played in the Nation's Capitol from 1901-1960 before the franchise moved to Minnesota and became the current Minnesota Twins. They have not once worn any Expos throwbacks.
That all changes on July 6, when the Nationals will sport the signature Montreal Expos powder blue uniforms against the Kansas City Royals as the Nationals celebrate the franchise's 50th anniversary, according to the Washington Post.
The uniform features powder blue jerseys and pants, with the tri-color red, white, and blue signature Expos cap.
The Royals will also be donning throwback uniforms from their inaugural 1969 season, taking the field in their original road grey uniforms with a cursive "Kansas City" across their chest in Royal blue.
The Nationals are honoring the Expos in more ways than just sporting their old uniforms. Nationals Park will also be going through a makeover, as the Expos 'M' will replace the Nationals 'Curly W' across the park for the afternoon. Additionally, concessions will offer traditional Canadian food, such as poutine, Montreal smoked brisket sandwiches and more.
Expos legend Vladimir Guerrero will also be in attendance. Other members of the Nationals, such as manager Dave Martinez, third base coach Bob Henley, and MASN broadcaster F.P. Santangelo will be honored for their contributions to the Expos as well.
July 6 should be an exciting day at Nationals Park.
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It's no secret that Max Scherzer has been having the best month of his career. As whispers of a fourth Cy Young begin following his commanding starts this season, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo joined the chorus.
"We're seeing something from a major league pitcher that we’re very fortunate because we get to see this every fifth day and this is historical stuff," Rizzo said on The Sports Junkies Wednesday. "This is one of the great pitchers of our time and a hall of fame caliber guy and a guy who leaves it on the mound each and every day."
To add to his dominant June, Scherzer allowed only one run and recorded 10 strikeouts over eight innings in the Nationals' 6-1 win over the Miami Marlins Tuesday night.
"He wills himself to win and he wills himself to go the extra inning, the extra pitch," Rizzo said.
Many are calling Scherzer's consistent greatness this month the most dominant time of his career. According to NBC Sports Washington's Todd Dybas, the only month in his career that comes close to his June 2019 dominance is June 2017, when Scherzer boasted a 0.99 ERA, pitched 36 ⅓ innings, recorded 51 strikeouts, six walks, and a 0.55 WHIP. This June, Scherzer has more strikeouts and a lower ERA.
"He's one of the best pitchers in the league," Rizzo said. "Day in and day out, start in and start out, he gives you an opportunity to win, he gives you his best, he leaves everything on the mound each and every time."
Scherzer has one more start left this month against the Detroit Tigers, the three-day series in Detroit beginning Friday. Until then, Scherzer can rest his arm with two remaining games in the three-game series with the Marlins Wednesday and Thursday at 7:10 p.m.
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