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Max Scherzer matched a franchise strikeout record on Friday

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During Friday’s 7-2 win over the Mets, Nationals’ ace Max Scherzer became the second starter in franchise history to string five consecutive starts together with 10+ strikeouts each. It’s a feat we’ve already seen the Red Sox’ Chris Sale replicate earlier this season, going eight consecutive starts with at least 10 strikeouts, but one that a Nationals’ pitcher has failed to accomplish since Pedro Martinez did it for the Expos in 1997.

Scherzer lasted eight innings on Friday, firing 10 strikeouts to clinch his eighth win of the season. He allowed three batters to reach via walk and hit by pitch in the first two innings, but kept the game scoreless through seven solid frames until Jose Reyes unloaded a 1-1 home run to kick off the eighth inning.

The veteran righty topped out at a season-high 118 pitches, besting the 116-pitch mark he hit back in April during seven innings of two-hit, seven-strikeout ball against the Braves. His 10 strikeouts were just enough to extend his strikeout streak, four shy of the 14 he set down against the Dodgers last week.

Scherzer will still need another 10-strikeout start to match Martinez, who polished off a streak of six such appearances for the club in ’97. He’ll need four more to supersede the all-time record of eight consecutive starts with 10+ strikeouts, which was set by Martinez in 1999 and matched by Sale twice in 2015 and 2017.

Rob Manfred says Tampa Bay must pick up pace on new stadium

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred wants Tampa Bay to work a little quicker on getting the Rays a new ballpark.

Rays Principal Owner Stuart Sternberg has been working for nearly a decade to get a new stadium for the club and signed a three-year agreement with the City of St. Petersburg early in 2016 to search for a site in the Tampa Bay area. Manfred wants that search to pick up some steam.

“I think it’s fair to say we want the process to take on a better pace moving forward,” Manfred said Wednesday night at Tropicana Field, home of the Rays since their first season in 1998.

The Rays were averaging 15,815 fans per game before Wednesday night’s contest against the Toronto Blue Jays. That is just over half the major league average of 30,470. Tropicana Field and its location have been almost universally blamed as the reason for the poor attendance.

“I’ve been pretty clear that they need a new facility here, a major league quality facility in an A-plus location,” Manfred said. “It is time to move that decision to the front burner here in Tampa.”

The matter of how a stadium would be financed has been tabled until a site is determined, but Sternberg continued to express confidence in the Tampa Bay market.

“I’ve had the opportunity to bail on it many times over the years,” he said. “I won’t say this is a slam dunk, it’s certainly not. But I think we can do something that’ll at least double our attendance. That’s a lot to ask for.”

Manfred said Major League Baseball “doesn’t have a firm timetable” for what steps to take if the Rays fail to get an agreement to build a new stadium in the Tampa Bay area, but but added that “it is a topic of discussion in the industry, the lack of progress.”

More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

Robinson Cano leaves game with hamstring tightness

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Bad news for the Mariners this evening: Robinson Cano left Seattle’s game against the Atlanta Braves with tightness in his left hamstring.

Cano walked off the field after legging out a double — his second of the game — in the third inning. He pulled up as he approached second base and walked off the field, accompanied by a trainer. There was no immediate word on the severity of the injury. The Mariners have a day off Thursday before opening a series at the Yankees on Friday night, so they have some time to evaluate him.

Cano is hitting .277/.377/.460 with 19 homers and 78 RBI on the year.