Dugout Digest – good news, Nationals

The Washington Nationals are furiously looking to contend in the NL Wild Card race. Washington's seven game winning streak has pushed them to just 4.5 games behind the Reds for the NL's final playoff spot. However, it's still a long shot for the Nationals to even force a tie with the Reds. If Cincinnati just plays .500 ball over their last 14 games, the Nationals will need to go 12-3 against a schedule that has three games left with the Braves and a season-ending six game road trip to St Louis and Arizona. If Washington can take all three of those series, they'd *deserve* the playoff spot.


Juan Perez makes the catch. TOUCHDOWN! (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

Game of the Night: Athletics 9, Rangers 8. The A's led this one 9-2, and another victory seemed like it was in the books. But no one told that to the Rangers, who battled back in the eighth inning against a typically stout Oakland bullpen. Brett Anderson walked the first two hitters of the inning before leaving with yet another injury, this time back spasms. Jesse Chavez replaced him, and sandwiched a pair of strikeouts around a single by Jim Adduci to load the bases. A Leonys Martin infield single made it a 9-3 game. Ryan Cook replaced Chavez, and promptly walked Ian Kinsler to make it 9-4. An Elvis Andrus two-run single made it 9-6. Kinsler and Andrus moved up on a passed ball, and Alex Rios singled home both to make it 9-8. Then Adrian Beltre singled, and Rios was thrown out at third…when he was pretty blatantly safe. Oh. That blown call snuffed out the Texas rally, and in the ninth, Sean Doolittle struck out the side while allowing just a double to Robinson Chirinos.

Pitching Lines of the Night: Kyle Lohse helped the Brewers beat the Reds 5-1, allowing one run on four hits in a complete game, striking out five and walking one. Chris Archer and the Rays beat the Twins 3-0 to end Minnesota's season, as Archer allowed three hits over six shutout innings, striking out seven without a walk. Todd Redmond had a nice start for the Blue Jays in their 5-3 loss to the Orioles, giving up one run on three hits in 6 1/3 innings, striking out seven without a walk. Adam Wainwright and Hisashi Iwakuma had a great duel in St Louis' 2-1, ten inning win over Seattle, as Wainwright allowed one run on six hits in eight innings, striking out six and walking two, while Iwakuma threw seven scoreless innings, allowing three hits, walking two and striking out one. I'll also give a nod to Braves rookie David Hale, who in his first career start, allowed four hits over five shutout innings, punching out nine and walking one in Atlanta's 4-3 loss to the Padres.

Hitting Lines of the Night: Jarrod Saltalamacchia pushed the Red Sox past the Yankees 8-4, going 2/3 with two runs, four RBI, a walk, a double, and a homer. In the loss, Robinson Cano went 4/4 with a run, two RBI, and three doubles. Miguel Montero had a nice game for the Diamondbacks in their 7-5 loss to the Rockies, going 3/3 with a three-run homer and two walks. In that wild A's-Rangers game, Josh Donaldson went 2/3 with two runs, three RBI, two walks, a double, and a homer. Giancarlo Stanton did Giancarlo Stanton things in Miami's 4-3 loss to the Mets, going 2/4 with a pair of solo homers. Ryan Zimmerman stayed hot in Washington's 6-1 win over Philadelphia, going 3/5 with three runs and a solo homer.

Other Games: The Indians kept pace with the Rays in the wild card race, beating the White Sox 3-1. The Tigers doubled up the Royals 6-3. A late Anthony Rizzo homer helped the Cubs beat the Pirates 5-4. The Astros blistered Jason Vargas and topped the Angels 9-7. The Giants beat the Dodgers 4-2.

What You Missed: Munenori Kawasaki meets Bon Jovi. Yesterday's post-mortem and hope for the hopeless focused on the Mets. The Tigers signing hot dog vendor was fired, possibly for his hatred of ketchup. This week's watchability rankings. Amanda broke down the absurd travel schedules some teams will face in 2014. A child at PNC Park got leveled on Thursday.

Today's Games: CC Sabathia takes on Jon Lester at Fenway. Bartolo Colon and Yu Darvish will duel in Texas. Homer Bailey starts for the Reds in Milwaukee. Chris Tillman gets the nod for the Orioles in Toronto. Ervin Santana and Doug Fister square off in Detroit. Cole Hamels takes on Gio Gonzalez in Washington. Ubaldo Jimenez starts for the Indians in Chicago. Gerrit Cole and the Pirates host the Cubs. Matt Moore starts for the Rays in Minnesota. Jered Weaver takes the hill for the Angels in Houston. James Paxton and Michael Wacha will battle in St Louis. Roy Oswalt returns for the Rockies in the desert against Wade Miley. Tim Lincecum takes on Ricky Nolasco in LA.

National TV: Yankees-Red Sox (1 PM, Fox), Athletics-Rangers (1 PM, Fox), Reds-Brewers (1 PM, Fox), Royals-Tigers (7 PM, MLB Network), Rays-Twins (7 PM, MLB Network)

MLB.tv Free Game: Royals-Tigers (7 PM)

Pitching Matchup of the Day: Bartolo Colon vs Yu Darvish (Athletics vs Rangers, 1 PM)

Enjoy your day of baseball, everyone.

About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.