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Sethu Vijayakumar
WASHINGTON — National League Cy Young Award candidates square off in Thursday’s series finale between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Washington Nationals.Phillies right-hander Aaron Nola (14-3 Barry Bonds Jersey , 2.24 ERA) opposes right-hander Max Scherzer (16-5, 2.11) as the Nationals (64-63) go for the sweep after Ryan Zimmerman’s walk-off, two-out, two-run homer gave them an 8-7 win on Wednesday night.Zimmerman’s shot off closer Seranthony Dominguez was his 11th career walk-off homer and first since 2016.Article continues below ...“That guy is nasty,” Zimmerman said after Washington won its second straight game following the trades of Daniel Murphy and Matt Adams. “Ninth inning, a close game and the other team has the lead, those (closers) are usually pretty good. I kind of put the pressure on them. They’re supposed to get me out.”The Phillies (68-58) have lost four straight and nine of 13. They trail first-place Atlanta by three games.“This is a big test for us,” manager Gave Kapler said after Philadelphia wasted an 11-hit night. “Big challenge to have a tough week like we’ve had and then to have an excruciating loss like the one we had tonight. Our guys aren’t going to hang our heads. We’re going to come back swinging tomorrow.”Nola and Scherzer appear at or near the top of the various NL pitching categories. Scherzer is first in wins and Nola is second. Scherzer is second in ERA behind Jacob deGrom of the Mets and Nola is third. Scherzer is first in strikeouts (234) and innings pitched (174 2/3) and second in ERA http://www.piratesfanproshop.com/authentic-roberto-clemente-jersey , while Nola is seventh in strikeouts (160), fifth in innings pitched (161) and third in ERA.And in terms of Thursday being a matinee, Scherzer is third in daytime ERA (2.24) and Nola is fifth (2.86).Nola hasn’t lost since July 14. Last time out he allowed one run and three hits over seven innings of a win against the Mets on Friday. He struck out 11 and walked one.“It’s pretty nasty,” Roman Quinn told philly.com of watching Nola’s curveball from center field. “I’ve seen it in live batting practice once before and it’s not something you want to stand in front of. He’s steady rolling and it’s fun to watch him pitch.”Scherzer hasn’t lost since July 2, going 6-0 with a pair of no-decision since then. Last Friday he threw six shutout innings in an 8-2 victory over the Miami Marlins. He allowed five hits, struck out seven and walked one. At the plate, he doubled for his career-high 16th hit of the season — improving his average to .296 — and scored twice from second base.“He does it all for us,” Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper told the Washington Post. “Every fifth day Kent Tekulve Jersey , he goes out there and pitches the ball well and runs the pillows really well and scores.”Scherzer has allowed two earned runs or fewer in each of his last six starts and is 16 strikeouts shy of a fifth consecutive season with at least 250.Against the Phillies this season, Scherzer picked up a no-decision on May 6 despite allowing one run with 15 strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings. He’s 9-1 with a 2.50 ERA against them in 15 career starts.Odubel Herrera is 12-for-36 (.333) versus Scherzer, while Asdrubal Cabrera is 15-for-64 (.234), Cesar Hernandez is 8-for-35 (.229) and Maikel Franco is 3-for-23 (.130).Nola has already beaten the Nationals twice this season, allowing three runs and nine hits over 13 2/3 innings in those two starts. For his career, Nola is 3-4 with a 3.99 ERA in 12 starts.Harper is 9-for-23 (.391) against Nola with two homers and five RBIs. Anthony Rendon is 6-for-24 (.250) with a homer and Zimmerman is 3-for-20 (.150). Harry How/Getty ImagesFree-agent infielder Manny Machado is being pursued by a "mystery team" who has made the highest bid for the 26-year-old, according to Jon Heyman of Fancred:Jon Heyman JonHeymanHave heard there is indeed a mystery team in Manny derby, and also recently heard that team had the high bid (impression also was that the surprise team wasn鈥檛 necessarily his preferred landing spot but maybe $ will decide) Im9JgVyPWQHeyman had previously made mention of a "mystery team" in a Jan. 11 tweet as well:Jon Heyman JonHeymanMachado camp is telling some folks there鈥檚 a mystery team in addition to Chisox http://www.piratesfanproshop.com/authentic-bill-mazeroski-jersey , Phils. Validity is unknown.According to SNY's Andy Martino, Machado "has met personally with at least one of the unidentified teams in recent days." Martino also asserted Machado "will go to highest bidder, period."Machado had 37 home runs and 107 RBI and tallied a .297/.367/.538 slash linefor the Baltimore Orioles and Los Angeles Dodgers last season.With pitchers and catchers set to report in less than a month, however, Machado remains without a team.Machado's father, Manuel, made an interesting remark to reporter Hector Gomez (h/tZach Brazillerof theNew York Post) on Friday:H茅ctor G贸mez hgomez27Manuel Machado, Manny鈥檚 Father:quot;I believe that the team you will probably less think about is the one that鈥檚 gonna sign Manny Machado.quot;#ZDigital #ZDeportes z101digital ZDeportesIf there is indeed a mystery team in the lead Dave Parker Jersey , then the guessing game begins regarding its identity.TheChicago White Sox,Philadelphia Phillies,New York YankeesandDodgerscan all safely be ruled out, as they each have been connected to Machado publicly in some form.Sports Illustratedguessed that the team may be the San Diego Padres and offered sound reasoning. In particular, they noted San Diego is "a rebuilding team with a ton of good prospects, plenty of payroll space and a hole on the left side of the infield."Mike Axisa ofCBSSports.comwrote a seven-step report on finding the mystery team and landed on the Padres as well. He offered this take as the biggest reason why:"One, they have a tremendous farm system that will begin plugging high-end talent into the major league roster in earnest in 2019. The most efficient way to build a contender is to develop a homegrown core and supplement it with select veterans. Machado qualifies as a select veteran. He'd accelerate the rebuild and give San Diego a lineup cornerstone."Axisa also wrote that the Padres don't have a long-term third baseman and a lower payroll just north of $80 million, perCot's Baseball Contracts.When you put all the pieces together Josh Harrison Jersey , the Padres make a lot of sense. Given the lack of movement surrounding the core four teams after Machado, San Diego could come through the back door and sign him.
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