I’m loathe to ever say a team “made a statement.” There are a lot of damn baseball games, see, so no “statement” can last much more than 24 hours. For example, if the Giants come back and kick the poop out of the Nats tonight and tomorrow afternoon, that statement would be something like “pardon me, I seem to have stepped on your toe, oh, don’t get up … OW!! Stop Kicking me!”
That said, the Nats sort of made a statement last night.
In a possible playoff preview, Washington destroyed San Francisco, 14-2, batting the NL’s ERA leader Ryan Vogelsong for eight runs on nine hits in two and a two-thirds. The Nats led 14-0 after five. Their 21 hits were the most ever for an opponent at AT&T Park.
Overall, the Nats’ dominance is becoming clear. The win was their 11th in 13 games. On this current road trip they are 7-1. They have baseball’s best record, its second largest division lead and its best run differential. Since the All-Star break they have also scored more runs than anyone.
They look pretty good, on the whole, against NL contenders as well. On the season they are 8-4 against the Braves, their closest division rival. They are 5-2 against Cincinnati. They’ve beaten the Giants, soundly, in all four games they’ve played. They’ve taken four of six from the Dbacks. The Dodgers have handled them, however and they’ve lost three of five to the Pirates. They’ve yet to play the Cardinals.
Obviously the playoffs are a different beast — and I still think the decision to go voluntarily bench Stephen Strasburg in October will haunt them — but at the moment everything is coming up Nationals.
Who says no-hitters can’t be just as fun when they happen during spring training?
Angels’ right-hander Bud Norris delivered two perfect innings on Friday night, paving the way for an eight-pitcher no-hitter against the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Austin Adams, Drew Gagnon and Justin Anderson each filed a hitless inning of their own, leaving right-hander Abel De Los Santos to close out the ninth inning with just three pitches — and three game-saving plays by the defense.
Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Angels were facing a bevy of Mariners’ backups, rather than their starting lineup. In fact, Seattle’s lineup featured just two starting players — outfielder Leonys Martin and shortstop Jean Segura — while the majority of their everyday position players took on the Royals in a 4-3 win elsewhere in the Cactus League. The Mariners managed to reach base twice, first on catcher interference in the fourth inning, then on a four-pitch walk in the sixth, spoiling the Angels’ chances of turning their combined no-hitter into a combined perfect game.
Still, whether it’s executed in spring training or the regular season, against an All-Star lineup or one comprised of minor leaguers, a no-hitter is a no-hitter. The team’s eight-pitcher effort marked the first spring training no-no the Angels had completed since 1996, when they took on the Giants in a 15-0 showdown. Unfortunately for the 1996 squad, their regular season ended with a 70-91 record, good for last place in the AL West. Perhaps this no-hitter will prove a better omen for the coming season.
Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.
Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.
Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.