Washington Nationals: 5 to watch in Oakland
By Ron Juckett
The next part of this long Washington Nationals road trip moves to Oakland. Here are five players to watch as they tangle with the Athletics.
You could not ask for a better start to a long west coast road trip as the Washington Nationals enjoyed.
Okay, there was the Bryce Harper/Hunter Strickland fight on Memorial Day. Harper saw an initial four-game suspension reduced to three and will miss the first two games of this weekend’s series.
On the other hand, the Nats swept the San Francisco Giants. Highlighted by Max Scherzer’s 100-pitch complete game Wednesday night, Washington has total control of the National League East. As we ease into June, the Nats command a double-digit lead.
Next up on the schedule are the Oakland Athletics. In a rare case where the team did not need to change hotels between series, the Nats come into the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum at 33-19. Between Scherzer’s magic and another great outing from Tanner Roark, the starting pitching is on fire.
Perhaps bigger, Koda Glover has slammed the door every game since becoming the closer full time. Is it possible the biggest worries come October are melting? We will see.
As rosy as things are for Washington, Oakland is mired in the American League West basement. While the Houston Astros are making mincemeat out of the division, the Athletics are 23-30. The rebuilding project continues.
The Nationals catch a break as the designated hitter is in play. It will be curious to see who Dusty Baker gives a small rest too before next week’s big series in Southern California against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Still, you cannot overlook Oakland who is better than their record shows. At least we get two late-afternoon games on the weekend to go with another late-night Friday.
As we settle in with more coffee, here are five you should watch as Washington invades the East Bay.