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Stephen Strasburg has the longest scoreless streak of the season

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Nationals’ ace Stephen Strasburg hit a new franchise milestone on Sunday afternoon, extending his scoreless streak to a record 34 innings as the Nats clinched their weekend series on a 3-2 nail-biter against the Phillies. His 34 scoreless innings are the longest such stretch among any major league starter in 2017, eclipsing Robbie Ray‘s 27 2/3 scoreless streak back in May. All told, Strasburg’s efforts spanned 19 hits, four walks and 41 strikeouts and he exited Sunday’s outing with the streak still intact.

Strasburg stifled the Phillies at the plate, fanning Nick Williams on three straight pitches to end the first inning and taking a no-hitter into the fifth inning, where Maikel Franco worked an eight-pitch count before lining a single into left field. Franco returned in the eighth for the Phillies’ second hit of the afternoon, but found himself unable to advance a second time after Aaron Altherr grounded into a double play.

The only blemish on Strasburg’s performance? Not a hit, a walk or a run, but this observation:

If anything is wrong with Strasburg’s arm, however, the Nationals have yet to address it. He was able to pitch through the eighth with little trouble and finished the 34-inning streak after battling through a nine-pitch at-bat to get a groundout from Jorge Alfaro.

Not surprisingly, the streak places the ace in pretty good company:

The Giants are winning but they’re still gonna sell

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The state of baseball in general, the state of the National League in particular and the state of the San Francisco Giants as a competitor are conspiring to create what seems like at least a mildly absurd situation.

The Giants, a veteran-laden team that, as recently as this past offseason but definitely within the past couple of years, were at least talking about being on a win-now footing, just swept a four-game series, have won five straight games and have won 12 of 14 to pull themselves to within two and a half games of a playoff spot.

Yet, that’s all for temporary show, because they’re about to sell off. At least according to Jeff Passan at ESPN. Giants president Farhan Zaidi tried to push back on that in a radio interview yesterday, denying that the club has foreclosed the possibility of a postseason push, but I’m not really buying that and I don’t think most people are.

On one level it makes sense to ignore the recent surge and forge on with a rebuild. Sure, the Giants are winning but they’re not exactly good. They’re two and a half out of the Wild Card, but there are many teams ahead of them. There’s a lot of reason to think that they’re playing in good fortune right now and that that, rather than finding some extra gear of sustainable better play, is what’s to credit. Hot streaks can happen at any time but the trade deadline only comes once a year. When you have the best starter available in Madison Bumgarner and the best reliever available in Will Smith, you gotta make those deals. That’s what I’d probably do if I ran the Giants and I think that that’s, wisely, what Zaidi will do.

Still, it’s an odd look, less for the Giants specifically than for baseball as a whole. We may in an era of cheap front offices who don’t like to contend if it means spending money, but it’s unfair to paint the Giants with that brush. They’ve spent money and acquired talent and have done whatever they can to extend their 2010-2014 mini-dynasty a few more years and in doing so they’ve made a lot of fans happy. That team has pretty much reached the end and, even in an earlier, more competitive era, they’d not be properly criticized for starting in on a rebuild. Heck, they’d be excused if they had done it a year or two earlier, frankly.

But, because so many teams have punted on improving themselves, these aging Giants are at least superficially competitive. As such, when they do sell off in the coming days, it’ll look to some like they’re waving a white flag or something when they’re not really doing that. I mean, the Rockies and the Pirates, among other teams, should be much better than they are but didn’t seem all that interested in improving, thereby helping the Giants look better, right? It’s less a knock on the Giants for rebuilding when they’re within striking distance of the playoffs than it is on the rest of the league for allowing a team like the Giants to be within striking distance of a playoff spot.

But that’s where we are right now. An insanely competitive Wild Card race from teams that, on the whole, are rather unconcerned with being competitive. What a time to be a baseball fan.