By James Kenney
The Nationals will host the red-hot Cleveland Indians at Nats Park starting Tuesday night. The Reds have ascended to the top of every major power ranking, joining the Nats and other divisional leaders, in recent weeks. Cleveland has made this jump through in-house talents such as phenom Francisco Lindor and second baseman Jason Kipnis. They made a splash in free agency in acquiring reliever Andrew Miller from the Yankees and also shelled out significant resources to try to trade for Jonathan Lucroy from the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Nationals will be again tested in this upcoming series. In the last two weeks, the Nats played the first place San Francisco Giants, going 4-3 against them while winning by decisive fashion and losing in pretty close contests. Before that series, the Nationals split a two-game series with the Indians, only losing the first game because of Jonathan Papelbon’s continued ninth inning woes. Between playing the Giants, the Nationals had a successful series against the Arizona Diamondbacks, outscoring them 32-8.
The Nationals will feature Max Scherzer and Gio Gonzalez against Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin. Neither of those Indians starters have been great recently, following suit of the rest of the club. Over the last 10 games, the Indians have gone 5-5 and been outscored 70-55. The Indians will look to do well in this series to retain their mere one game lead over the Detroit Tigers in the Central.
Over the Nats’ last 10, they have gone 7-3 and beaten two first place teams in the last few weeks. They will look to keep momentum before consecutive series against poor fairing teams, such as the Colorado Rockies and the Atlanta Braves, before the Battle of the Beltways begins on Aug. 22.
First pitch of the mini series is at 7:05 p.m. at Nats Park.