The Nationals scored a 10-6 win over the Reds tonight, posting their second straight victory and giving themselves a chance at splitting the six-game road trip tomorrow afternoon, which began with three straight losses. The Nats have had eight losing streaks of four or more games this season, and have responded with two straight wins in just four of those. So this is a key step.
“You’ve got to do that (stop losing streaks,” interim manager Jim Riggleman said. “The way you generally do it is, a so-called stopper goes out there in the rotation for you and stops a losing streak. We’ve done it offensively. The best teams in baseball are going to have some four, five-game losing streaks during the course of the year, but you’ve got to minimize them.”
But you’re probably concerned with other Nationals-related developments more than the game, so here’s the rest of today’s news in bullet form.
—I was able to confirm the Nationals’ offer to Stephen Strasburg tonight—it does indeed surpass the $10.5 million package given to Mark Prior in 2001. But opinion still seems very much split about whether the Nationals will get the deal done. One thing I keep going back to is something Tony Gwynn said, over and over, when I was in Texas doing a story on Strasburg in May. Here’s what the Hall of Famer, who coached Strasburg for three years, said back then:
“I know he wants to play. And that, for me, is a comfort, knowing that I know where his heart is. He wants to play. And how all this stuff is going to get done, that’s out of my hands. But I know this: He wants to play, and he wants the opportunity to show people he can pitch. And I take great comfort in that, because I know who his advisor is going to be, and I know he has a history of drawing it out. But in my mind, I know he wants to play, and I’m cool with it.”
The message there is clear: Gwynn believes Strasburg wants to play. We’ll know by Monday night how much.
—Elijah Dukes drove in three runs tonight, giving him 13 in his last eight games. “A lot of times I try to go for the long ball,” Dukes said. “I tend to mess up a lot – missing pitches, not taking the right pitches or swinging at (bad) balls. Now, I try to get that one pitch to drive the other way.”
Too soon to tell if this is just a hot streak or Dukes is maturing as a hitter to the point he can be a consistent source of production. But nobody’s ever questioned his talent.
—Another bad night for Logan Kensing—he gave up four runs in 2/3 of an inning, and you have to wonder if his time in the majors is running out. Jim Riggleman has talked about wanting to return to a seven-man bullpen soon, and Kensing’s ERA is 10.46. The Nationals still like him, but he’s got to get things figured out quickly.
“I think he topped out at 96. (Pitching coach) Steve McCatty and I talk about it a lot. Something is easy to see for the hitters, or he’s tipping his pitches, or something,” Riggleman said. “He throws too good to get hit that hard. We hope he can get that straightened out.”
We’re back for the finale of this four-game series tomorrow at 1:10.