Scherzer hopes to give Rangers wake-up call (Jun 11, 2017)
It wouldn't be surprising to see a few yawns from the Washington Nationals this weekend. Many of the players got to sleep about 3 a.m. Thursday after the team returned from a three-city trip to the West Coast.
Then the Nationals played the Texas Rangers on Friday night, then about 14 hours later took the field for the second game of the series that began at 12:06 p.m. ET Saturday.
Washington has lost the first two games of the series.
"There's not much you can do about it," Washington manager Dusty Baker said. "Catch up on your sleep, which is a very short night tonight. It'll be tough tomorrow, but this team seems to respond well to tough situations."
The Nationals can take solace that ace right-hander Max Scherzer (7-3, 2.35) should be fresh when he takes the mound late Sunday afternoon against the Texas Rangers in the series finale at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.
Scherzer is 4-1 with a 3.67 ERA in his career against the Rangers, who will start rookie right-hander Austin Bibens-Dirkx (1-0, 4.08).
"I worked a long time and worked very hard to get here," said Bibens-Dirkx, who spent more than a decade in the minors before making his MLB debut last month. "It took longer than I wanted or expected it to."
A University of Missouri product, Scherzer has 1,995 strikeouts in his career, which began in 2008 with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Scherzer has 114 strikeouts and only 20 walks this season in 84 1/3 innings over 12 starts.
The St. Louis native has not faced Texas since 2013 and is 2-1 with a 2.90 ERA at home when facing the Rangers.
His last start came on Tuesday at Los Angeles, when he fanned 14 batters in a win over the Dodgers.
Bibens-Dirkx, a former minor leaguer with the Nationals, made his major league debut in May with the Rangers and has made one start for Texas and five appearances out of the bullpen.
The Oregon native was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in 2006 and spent 11 years in the minors, including time in the independent Atlantic League, before making it to The Show.
"He has given us flexibility," Texas manager Jeff Banister said. "He is very experienced. His moxie on the mound allows him to pitch at this level."
Bibens-Dirkx pitched for Triple-A Syracuse in the Washington system in 2012 and his manager was Tony Beasley, now the third base coach for the Rangers.
Beasley is from Bowling Green, Va., and played in the minors for the Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates, and was also a coach for the Nationals.
Texas also got some good news Saturday when third baseman Adrian Beltre returned to the starting lineup and was 1-for-3 with a walk. He landed awkwardly on first base while running out a grounder Tuesday and did not play on Wednesday and Friday, while the Rangers were off Thursday.
The Nationals played early Saturday and will have an unusual 4:05 p.m. ET first pitch Sunday since the team will hold its annual fundraising gala on Saturday night at a hotel in downtown Washington.
The first-place Nationals are still trying to get back into a rhythm since returning from California.
"It does something, even to the manager," Baker said. "Your sleep is off," Baker said.
Baker might lose some more sleep after closer Koda Glover told the Nationals he was having back problems after he gave up two runs in the ninth Friday in a 6-3 loss in 11 innings.
And first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, leading the league in hitting, didn't play for the second time in three days on Saturday as he deals with back issues.
"It's one of those things where if you continue to play and it gets worse, something bad could happen," Zimmerman said Saturday. "If you give it a day or two you can kind of just stop it right there. That's sort of the plan since it's June and we have the ability to do that.
"We'll see how it feels in the morning. Kind of go from there as far as tomorrow. Even if I don't play tomorrow, I can't see me not playing on Monday."