Rockies-Nationals Preview

Max Scherzer doesn’t have time to worry about any other team but his own.

Focused on the task at hand, the right-hander tries to help the Washington Nationals earn a needed series victory Sunday against the visiting Colorado Rockies.

Washington (57-52) is 1 1/2 games behind the first-place New York Mets in the NL East and four out of the final wild-card spot, but as far as Scherzer (11-8, 2.31 ERA) is concerned, it’s too early to get caught up in the standings.

"I really focus on what we do," he told MLB’s official website. "If we get late in September and we scoreboard-watch, that’s fine. But right now, it’s not the time for it."

Scherzer is 1-0 in his last two starts and allowed all three runs in those contests Tuesday while striking out nine and walking three on 114 pitches in six innings to not factor in the decision of a 5-4 win over Arizona. Scherzer, who ranks third in the majors with 181 strikeouts, became the first pitcher to record 1,500 while in a Nationals uniform.

"It’s a really cool milestone," he said. "It’s performance and durability. We keep seeing guys go down with shoulder injuries, elbow injuries. I’ve been fortunate to stay away from that and be durable and make 30-plus starts. It’s the reason I’ve been able to get to this milestone at this point and time."

Facing the Rockies (46-62) for the first time since 2012, Scherzer tries to help Washington build on Saturday’s 6-1 victory that evened this three-game set. Stephen Strasburg came off the disabled list to allow that one run while striking out 12 over seven innings and Ryan Zimmerman had two hits with two RBIs for the Nationals, who have won three of the last five since dropping four in a row.

Zimmerman is batting .353 with seven RBIs in the last six games, and .373 with 12 RBIs in his last 17 at home against Colorado.

Nolan Arenado is 4 for 7 in the series after recording his 27th home run Saturday for one of the three hits by the Rockies, who couldn’t capitalize on Friday’s comeback 5-4 victory.

"(Strasburg) was in complete control, really,” Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. ”You know he is going to be tough to score off of. He looked like an elite guy, like he’s been.”

Colorado’s Carlos Gonzalez went 0 for 3 on Saturday after going 4 for 9 with two homers and seven RBIs in the previous two contests. His only hit in six at-bats against Scherzer left the park.

Yohan Flande (2-1, 3.54) was pushed back to Sunday after he threw a scoreless inning of relief during Wednesday’s 7-5, 11-inning victory over Seattle.

"Having the off-day (Thursday) allowed us to rearrange it a little bit," Weiss said. "Give Flande an extra day. He would’ve been fine throwing on Saturday, but we figured since we have the opportunity to give him an extra day we’re going to do it."

Prior to that relief appearance, the left-hander went 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA in his first two starts of the season. Last year, Flande went 0-1 with a 5.91 ERA in two starts against the Nationals.