Washington Nationals: 5 to watch in interleague series with Mariners

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May 17, 2017; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Christian Bergman (56, center) waits on the mound before being relieved for against the Oakland Athletics during the eighth inning at Safeco Field. Seattle Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager (15, left) and first baseman Danny Valencia (26) stand next to Bergman. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
May 17, 2017; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Christian Bergman (56, center) waits on the mound before being relieved for against the Oakland Athletics during the eighth inning at Safeco Field. Seattle Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager (15, left) and first baseman Danny Valencia (26) stand next to Bergman. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports /
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Washington Nationals
May 16, 2017; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23) breaks his bat on a single against the Oakland Athletics during the fourth inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports /

Nelson Cruz

Without the use of the designated hitter this week, the Mariners will have to put Cruz in right field in order to get his bat in the lineup. His defense could be a problem if you remember what happened when Texas played St. Louis in the World Series a few years ago.

This month, Cruz is hitting .284 with four home runs and 14 RBI’s. During that stretch, he is tied with Robinson Cano for the team lead in home run and he leads the team in runs batted in. Lately, most of his hits have been via the home run.

During in his last seven games, Cruz only has five hits. However, three of those hits are left the yard.

Despite the struggles at the plate, Cruz still has 11 home runs on the season and he leads the American League in RBI’s (37). Plus, it’s important to remember that having Robinson Cano back in the lineup should help boost his offensive production.

Seattle has yet to play in a National League park this season, so seeing Cruz play the field for the first time in 2017 will be interesting. Plus, if they lead late, will Scott Servais decide to go to a better defensive outfielder like Ben Gamel in that situation?

Cruz has never faced Joe Ross in his career, but he has rough numbers against the other two starters. He is 0-for-3 against Tanner Roark and 1-for-13 against Gio Gonzalez with a RBI and five strikeouts.

If the Nats pitchers are going to have success against this Seattle offense, they need to make sure Cruz isn’t hitting any mistakes into the bullpen or over the bullpen. Of course, that’s easier said than done.

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