Dugout Digest – the Nationals will never die

Since the All-Star Break a month ago, the Atlanta Braves have played some pretty good baseball in the NL East, going 20-8. However, they have actually *lost* ground in the division since the break. Why? Because the division-leading Washington Nationals on playing insanely good. The Nats are 22-9, picking up a game and a half on the Braves. The team's current eight game winning streak is pacing them right now, and it was extended with a 6-5 comeback win last night in Arizona. The Nationals are the only team in baseball with 70 wins (71), the only team with a winning percentage about .600 (.623), and until last night, they were the only team in baseball to allow under 400 runs for the season. Their +99 run differential is one back of the Yankees and three back of the Cardinals for the top mark in baeball. This is a pretty complete team right now, and even though the Braves have a commanding lead in the wild card race, they're still lagging behind Washington. That certainly is something.

Game of the Night: A's 9, White Sox 7. It was on Friday night when the White Sox walked off on the A's. Last night, Oakland got revenge with a comeback win of their own. The Sox scored two in the second to make it 2-0 before the A's exploded for six runs over the next two innings, making it a 6-2 ballgame. Then, Chicago came right back with runs in each of the fourth through seventh innings, taking the lead 7-6. But then, the A's settled in for the last two innings. Jonny Gomes hit a solo homer off of Matt Thornton in the eighth to tie the game, and a Brandon Inge single off of Thorton gave the A's an 8-7 lead. Just for good measure in the ninth, Gomes singled home Coco Crisp off of Brett Myers in the ninth, Myers' first run allowed with Chicago, to make it a 9-7 game. Grant Balfour closed the game out for Oakland, and the A's kept pace in the AL wild card race.

Pitching Lines of the Night: The Pirates had a disappointing 5-0 loss to the Padres, and San Diego starter Jason Marquis threw a complete game shutout, allowing two hits, one walk, and striking out four Pittsburgh batters. Marquis no hit the Pirates through six. Jeeeeeeeez. Derek Holland allowed one run to the Tigers over 7 2/3 in a 2-1 walkoff win for the Rangers, giving up three hits and striking out nine with just one walk. Indians rookie Zach McAllister continued to give the Tribe hope in a 5-2 win against the Red Sox, allowing two runs on three hits over eight innings, striking out four without a walk.

Hitting Lines of the Night: In Tampa Bay's 4-2 win over Minnesota, BJ Upton went 2/4 with a pair of homers and three RBI. Backup White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers went 3/3 with a homre and three RBI in that painful loss to the A's. Brent Lillibridge stuck it to his (briefly) former team in Boston by going 3/4 with two runs, two RBI, a double, and a homer for Cleveland. The Braves creamed the Mets 9-3, and Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman went 2/4 with a walk, a double, a homer, and five RBI. In a 7-4 Angels loss to the Mariners, the embattled Vernon Wells went 3/3 with three RBI and his seventh homer of the year.

Other Games: Ivan Nova shut down the Blue Jays in a 5-2 Yankees win. The Reds rallied late to beat the Cubs 4-2. The Giants crushed the Rockies 9-3. Alex Gordon homered twice in a 7-3 Royals win over the Orioles. The Astros walked off on the Brewers (again) in a 6-5 win in ten innings. The Cardinals beat Cliff Lee and the Phillies 4-1. The Marlins beat the Dodgers 7-3. 

Today's Games: Jon Lester starts for the Red Sox in Cleveland. The surprising Chris Capuano starts for the Dodgers in Miami. Lance Lynn takes on Vance Worley in Philly. Former Pirate Ross Ohlendorf starts for the Padres against Erik Bedard and his former team. Bartolo Colon and Chris Sale will duel in Chicago. Yovani Gallardo looks to stop Milwaukee's bleeding in Houston. James Shields starts for the Rays in Minnesota against the surprising Scott Diamond. Cy Young hopeful Johnny Cueto starts at Wrigley against the Cubs. The struggling Yu Darvish starts at home for the Rangers against the Tigers. AL Cy Young favorite Jered Weaver starts for the Angels, hosting the Mariners. Ross Detwiler of the smoking hot Nationals takes on rookie Pat Corbin and the Diamondbacks. Ben Sheets starts for the Braves in New York against Jonathon Niese.

Enjoy your day of baseball, everyone.

Joe Lucia

About Joe Lucia

Joe is the managing editor of The Outside Corner and an associate editor at Awful Announcing. He lives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and is smack dab in the middle of some of the best (and worst) sports fans in the country.

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