video thumbnail

WSH@PHI: Strasburg fans nine over 5 2/3 innings

Right-handed aces Kyle Lohse and Stephen Strasburg will kick off a very charged series between Washington and Milwaukee to begin the second half.

The Nationals were upset that injured starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann was their only selected representative at this year's All-Star Game at Target Field before right-handed reliever Tyler Clippard was tabbed to join the squad on Sunday afternoon.

But that's all they have to complain about in their attempt to overcome a disappointing 2013.

Washington entered the All-Star break tied for first with Atlanta in the National League East at 51-42, far superior to the club that broke for last year's Midsummer Classic with a 48-47 record having lost five of seven games.

As the Nationals prepare to battle the Braves down the home stretch, they will host the Brewers in a statement series to begin the second half. Milwaukee boasts the second-best record in the NL and is hoping for a second straight second-half surge.

The Brewers finished the 2013 season 36-28 despite losing Ryan Braun due to a 65-game suspension related to performance-enhancing drugs. The run helped put a 38-56 start behind them and has propelled them into their contending ways in 2014.

Milwaukee could sure use another second-half run considering how the team is limping into the break. The Brewers snapped a seven-game losing streak on Sunday and have lost nine of their past 11 games.

With Milwaukee aiming to rebound, there is no better place to start than away from Miller Park, where they are 24-24. The Brewers are 28-19 away from home, a record they will put on the line against the Nationals' 28-19 mark in Washington.

Strasburg has been electric in 11 starts at Nationals Park this season, compiling a 6-1 record with a 2.38, a 1.10 WHIP and 93 strikeouts in 72 innings. He has recorded nine quality starts in his past 10 turns in Washington.

Lohse boasts six victories on the road, but his 3.99 ERA and .252 opponents' batting average in 11 outings outside of Wisconsin are both numbers that could improve. He is trending in the wrong direction as he owns a 5.28 ERA in his past five road outings.

Brewers: K-Rod hopes to finish comeback season strong
Milwaukee closer Francisco Rodriguez earned his first All-Star nod since 2009 thanks to what has been a return to form for the right-hander in 2014. His 27 saves in the first half are more than he has tallied in any of the past four seasons.

The five-time All-Star owns a better first-half ERA (2.43) than second-half (2.99), including a 4.13 ERA and only one save in 24 innings for the Brewers after last year's All-Star break.

But perhaps being only 17 saves away from passing Randy Myers to enter the Top 10 saves leaders may provide Rodriguez extra motivation on top of Milwaukee's contention in the NL pennant race.

Nationals: Rendon really ripping
One All-Star snub that bothered Washington was that of Anthony Rendon, who fell short in the NL's Final Vote. He is batting .287 with 24 doubles, five triples, 13 homers, 52 RBIs and a .343 on-base percentage -- all career highs.

Rendon has hit safely in 29 of his past 35 games, totaling half of his doubles and more than half of his home runs while hitting .324 (46-for-142), raising his batting clip more than 20 points in a stretch in which the Nationals are 22-13.

Worth noting
• Milwaukee will stick with its rotation order to begin the second half, sending Lohse to the hill on Friday and pitching Matt Garza on Saturday.

• Ryan Zimmerman is batting .294 (10-for-34) with two doubles and two RBIs against Lohse. Jayson Werth is hitting .300 (9-for-30) with three homers, three doubles and six RBIs against Lohse.

• Werth is batting .375 (15-for-40) with six doubles, an NL-best six home runs and a Major League-leading 19 RBIs in July. He impressed last July too, winning NL Player of the Month honors for a similarly strong effort. Comments