The Diamondbacks need to win each of their final two games to finish this season above .500. Paul Goldschmidt, the NL’s leading home run hitter, will try to help his club earn the first of those victories while securing a career-best hit streak Saturday night when he faces former D-backs pitcher Dan Haren in the continuation of a series against the Nationals.
Goldschmidt singled in the fifth inning Friday to extend his hit streak to 17 games, but Arizona (80-80) suffered a third straight loss in Friday’s series opener with Washington. Jayson Werth and Wilson Ramos each hit three-run homers for the Nationals (85-75) in an 8-4 victory.
Goldschmidt is slated to face Haren initially in his attempt at his first 18-game hit streak. The right-hander played for two-plus seasons in Arizona before being dealt to the Angels in July 2010. Haren won a career-best 16 games in 2008 for the Diamondbacks and tied that mark in 2011, but he enters this start just hoping to reach double digits.
Haren (9-14, 4.87 ERA) has come up short in his past two attempts at a 10th win, including a 4-2 loss Sunday to the Marlins. He gave up three runs over six innings in his third loss in four decisions.
Haren wasn’t sharp in his only career start against the Diamondbacks, yielding five runs over 6 1/3 innings in a 5-0 loss June 15, 2012, while with the Angels.
He’ll try for the win in this matchup, which will serve as Nationals manager Davey Johnson’s penultimate game before retirement. The 70-year-old Johnson is 1,371-1,070 in his 17 seasons leading five different clubs, including the 1986 World Series champion Mets.
“I enjoy every day for what it brings me,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate to wear this uniform a long time, and it’s time to hang it up and go home and see my grandkids, take on another challenge. Who knows?”
Brandon McCarthy (5-10, 4.64) will try to help add to Johnson’s loss total in his first start against the Nationals and earn his third win in four decisions. The right-hander suffered his first defeat in four starts Monday in San Diego, giving up four runs over six innings in a 4-1 loss to the Padres.
“I felt good, but I made a couple of mistakes,” he said.
Denard Span (3 for 8) and Scott Hairston (0 for 2) are the only Nationals hitters to have previously batted against McCarthy.
Goldschmidt, hitting .397 during his streak and .383 in his last 11 games against the Nationals, will face Haren for the first time. Aaron Hill has the most experience against him among Diamondbacks hitters, going 7 for 22 (.318) with two doubles and a home run.