Major League Baseball
Nationals-Diamondbacks preview
Major League Baseball

Nationals-Diamondbacks preview

Updated Mar. 4, 2020 12:36 p.m. ET

PHOENIX -- It has been the best of series and the worst of series.

Washington has piled up 24 runs and 34 hits while winning the first two games of a three-game set at Arizona.

The Nationals will send Cy Young Award candidate Max Scherzer to the mound in an attempt to sweep their first series since taking three in a row from the New York Mets from June 27-29.

Scherzer, 11-6 with a 2.95 ERA, was the Diamondbacks' first pick in the 2006 draft before being traded to Detroit in a three-team deal before the 2010 season. He won the AL Cy Young Award in 2013 with Detroit where he won 72 games.


Scherzer is 6-2 with a 1.67 ERA in his last 11 starts and when he last pitched Friday, the right-hander allowed one run and five hits in seven innings of a 4-1 win at San Francisco.

Arizona, which has given up 34 runs in its last three games starting with a 14-3 loss to the Dodgers on Sunday, will start right-hander Zack Godley, who is 3-1 in five mostly spot starts this season.

The Nationals have scored multiple runs in six innings against the D-backs, including five- and four-run frames in a 14-1 victory Monday and a four-run first in the 10-4 victory Tuesday. They had a season-high 19 hits in the final game of the series and had 15 Tuesday.

Wilson Ramos has five hits and four RBIs in the series, and his three-run homer broke a tie at 2 with two outs in the fifth inning Tuesday. The only trouble he has run into was when a foul ball struck him in the chest in the ninth inning Tuesday and broke his gold chain.

"Ramos has been a godsend," Washington manager Dusty Baker said. "He feels good about himself. I can't imagine now having Ramos, because he has figured it out. It takes some time sometimes. Everybody doesn't figure it out at the same rate or the same pace."

Ramos, who is hitting .331 and has tied a career with 16 homers, can be a free agent this winter. He signed a $5.3 million contract this spring to avoid his final year of arbitration.

"I'm hoping we try to do something with big Ramos here to retain him," Baker said.

With wins in the first two games of the series, Washington has gained two games on Miami to stay six games in front in the NL East. The defending division champion Mets are 7 1/2 back.

"I love our position, because this has been done for the last couple of months without Bryce (Harper) and without 'Zim,'" Baker said, speaking of Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman.

Harper, a late scratch because of illness Tuesday, is 7-for-59 since July 10. Zimmerman missed three weeks in June because of a rib cage strain and has not played the last two games after being hit in the left wrist by a pitch in the ninth inning of Sunday's game in San Francisco.

"We figure we haven't been operating on all cylinders," Baker said.

Arizona traded former Nationals reliever Tyler Clippard to the New York Yankees on Sunday and has had trouble keeping games close in recent games. Relievers have been charged with 10 runs in 8 2/3 innings in the first two games of the series.

"It is disheartening when they keep going out there and giving up even one," Arizona manager Chip Hale said. "We have to do better. We have to limit the runs."


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