Nationals at Braves
Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer aims to continue his domination of the Atlanta Braves when the teams continue a three-game series Saturday in Atlanta. Scherzer is 5-0 with a 3.12 ERA against the Braves since the start of last season, and the Nationals – who sit comfortably atop the National League East – look to defeat Atlanta for the 18th time in the past 23 meetings.
But it was the Braves, who continue to adjust to life without the injured Freddie Freeman, who rode three hits from Matt Kemp and a bullpen that pitched 3 2/3 innings of scoreless ball to a 7-4 victory in Friday’s series opener. Kemp has reached base in 23 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the National League, and Atlanta has won six of its last eight. Washington’s bullpen has surrendered 10 runs in its past 11 1/3 innings as Enny Romero allowed three runs on two hits and a walk in the eighth inning. Center fielder Michael Taylor extended his hitting streak to seven games with two hits,and five of his 11 hits during that stretch have been extra-base hits for the Nationals, who have lost three in a row and four of their past six.
TV: 4:10 p.m. ET, MASN (Washington), FSN South (Atlanta)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Nationals RH Max Scherzer (4-2, 2.80 ERA) vs. Braves RH Bartolo Colon (2-4, 6.80)
Scherzer already has defeated Atlanta once this season, firing seven shutout innings with seven strikeouts and two hits allowed in a road victory April 18. The 32-year-old has allowed more than two earned runs three times in eight starts, giving up three runs on nine hits in six innings of a no-decision on Sunday against Philadelphia. Scherzer entered the weekend leading the NL with 70 strikeouts, including back-to-back 11-strikeout performances against Arizona and Baltimore to open May.
Following three shaky starts in which the oldest player in the majors allowed 19 runs in 14 2/3 innings, Colon bounced back by holding Toronto to three runs in five innings for his first victory since April 16. Colon, who turns 44 Wednesday, has held opponents to a .211 batting average in two home starts with a 4.91 ERA. He is 4-6 with a 3.71 ERA in 12 career appearances (11 starts) against Washington, going 1-1 with a 5.51 ERA in three starts for the Mets last season.
1. Nationals LF Jayson Werth has reached base safely in 11 consecutive games, scoring 10 runs during that span.
2. Washington RF Bryce Harper is 2-for-16 through the first four games of the Nationals’ six-game road trip.
3. Atlanta RF Nick Markakis is hitting .317 in 41 career at-bats against Scherzer, while Nationals 3B Anthony Rendon (.381) and Werth (.375) have enjoyed success against Colon.