Washington Nationals Rapid Reaction: Johnny Cueto Shuts Out Nats In Battle Of Aces

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Jul 7, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals center fielder Michael Taylor (3) cannot make the play on the wall on a Cincinnati Reds right fielder Jay Bruce (32) (not pictured) fly ball RBI double in the first inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Coming into this series between the Cincinnati Reds and the Washington Nationals, all the talk was about last night’s matchup of aces between Max Scherzer and Johnny Cueto. Scherzer was named to the All-Star team on Monday night while Cueto waits to find out if he wins the Final Vote spot on Friday. Last night, Cueto made a good impression to the fans that are casting their votes as well as to teams who are looking to trade for him before the July 31 trade deadline

It was a rare bad outing for the Nats’ ace as he did not even finish five innings. It is the first time that Scherzer did not go five innings in an outing since June 17 of last year against the Kansas City Royals. It was one of those nights where Scherzer was looking to get run support, but with a lineup that did not have Denard Span and Yunel Escobar in it, that was a tough task against one of the game’s best pitchers.

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While Taylor Jordan and Sammy Solis did a good job after Scherzer, the story has to be the struggles of the offense in these first two games. The Nats, who are now 0-5 against the Reds this season, are 0-for-13 in this series with runners in scoring position. On defense, they made a couple of errors as well (Dan Uggla and Danny Espinosa).

Yes, the lineup does not have most of its regulars, but it should be able to come up with at least one hit in a big spot. Now the Nationals will try to avoid a season sweep at the hands of the Reds, who are in fourth place in the NL Central. Fortunately, for the Nats, they are 3.5 games up in the NL East despite all of the injuries they have had this season.

Before Gio Gonzalez takes the mound tonight against Michael Lorenzen (7:05 PM ET, MASN), here are my takeaways from last night’s 5-0 loss:

Next: No Need To Worry About Scherzer