Don’t sleep on the Nationals. Aided by seven scoreless innings from Gio Gonzalez and home runs from Jayson Werth, Bryce Harper, and Ian Desmond, the Nationals wrapped up a three-game sweep of the Marlins tonight with a 9-0 victory at Nationals Park.
Gonzalez gave up just three hits (all of them singles) and three walks while striking out eight. The victory was his first since way back on July 10. Werth’s homer was his fourth in his past seven games and 13th since the beginning of July. His OPS is up to .947 for the season.
The Nationals have won eight out of their last nine games to improve to 68-65 for the year and will go into Friday’s action 6 1/2 games behind the Reds for the second Wild Card spot. As Craig mentioned this morning, they have a pretty soft schedule the rest of the way, so stranger things have happened.
Yankees first baseman Greg Bird gave his team tons of confidence to hand him the everyday job at first base to start the 2017 regular season, batting .451/.556/1.098 with eight home runs in 51 spring at-bats. But he’s followed that up by hitting .107/.254/.214 through the first month of the regular season.
GM Brian Cashman doesn’t have any intent to demote Bird back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports. Cashman said, “It’s not even an option for me in my mind right now, at all.”
Bird didn’t start Sunday’s game against the Orioles, a 7-4 loss in 11 innings. Lefty Wade Miley started for the Orioles, prompting manager Joe Girardi to put Chris Carter into the lineup at first base. If Bird isn’t able to figure things out, Carter might have an increased role on the team.
Rays starter Chris Archer threw his first pitch to Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista behind the slugger’s back with one out in the first inning of Sunday afternoon’s game in Toronto. Bautista and Archer then had a staredown. Home plate umpire Jim Wolf issued warnings to both teams. Bautista ultimately flied out to right field and he appeared to have a quick word with Archer on his way back to the dugout.
Archer could have been exacting revenge — euphemistically known as “protecting his teammate” — because Jays reliever Joe Biagini hit Rays outfielder Steven Souza in the seventh inning of Saturday’s game. Souza was forced to leave the game and underwent an X-ray, which came back negative. He was held out of Sunday’s lineup. Biagini’s pitch did not appear to be intentional.
The Jays won Sunday’s contest 3-1 with no further incident. The two clubs meet again in Tampa for a three-game series starting on May 5, so we’ll see if Sunday was the last of the bad blood between them.