Nats, Red Sox face off looking to recapture magic

MLB

The Washington Nationals and Boston Red Sox are the last two teams to win the World Series, but they hardly are playing like it.

The reigning champion Nationals aim to snap a three-game skid on Friday when they begin an 11-game road trip with the opener of a three-game set versus the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

Washington right-hander Max Scherzer (2-1, 4.31 ERA) is expected to get the nod for the series opener after joining the rest of his teammates in electing against playing Thursday’s finale against Philadelphia.

The Nationals and Phillies were idle as a means to refocus attention on social injustice after Jacob Blake, a Black man, was shot in the back seven times by a police officer in Kenosha, Wis., last Sunday.

Back to matters on the field, Scherzer looks for a better performance after allowing four runs on seven hits in 4 2/3 innings of a no-decision against Miami on Saturday.

“I believe that I can pitch in tough spots in the game,” the three-time Cy Young Award winner and seven-time All-Star told reporters. “Even late in the game, even when my pitch count is over 100, I still believe I can execute in those situations. Unfortunately, the last couple of games, I haven’t done that and I need to get better at that.”

Scherzer sports a 4-5 record with a 5.90 ERA in 11 career starts vs. Boston. He has kept Xander Bogaerts (1-for-8, three strikeouts) under wraps.

Juan Soto has hit safely in four of his last five games for the Nationals, who are open to shuffling the lineup with some of their other assets heading toward the trade deadline on Monday.

“We’re still assessing where we’re at in the deadline,” Washington general manager Mike Rizzo said earlier this week. “Suffice to say, we’re comfortable with our rotation right now. That doesn’t mean that we’re not looking … we’re always on the look to improve our ball club. But we’re excited and happy about the prospects of our rotation — not only for this year, but for years moving forward.”

The Red Sox lost 12 of their last 16 games before electing against taking the field against the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday in Buffalo, N.Y.

“We need to discuss these things more, we need to listen more and that’s the only way we’re getting change,” Boston manager Ron Roenicke said.

Right-hander Chris Mazza (0-1, 6.35 ERA) initially was recalled from the taxi squad for that game. Instead, he is expected to make the start on Friday as Boston opens a 10-game homestand.

Mazza surrendered four runs on eight hits in three innings in a 4-2 setback at the New York Yankees on Aug. 16. The 30-year-old will be making his 12th career major league appearance and first against Washington.

While Boston hardly resembles the team that won the 2018 World Series, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom does see opportunities to improve the team heading toward the trade deadline.

“We always want to stay active in conversation,” Bloom said. “I think really the goal should be to make sure that we are fully aware of all the opportunities that might be out there, anything that could be a chance to better our organization and help achieve our goals and make sure we’re prepared to do something if we do find that opportunity out there.”

–Field Level Media

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