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New Post 9/19/2018 5:24 AM
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The Washington Nationals‘ bats finally came alive Friday night. They hope that offense shows up again Saturday as the Nationals attempt to win two straight games for the first time in more than three weeks.

After a 17-7 rout on Friday night Mark Ingram Jersey , the Nationals can pull even with the Philadelphia Phillies for second place in the National League East with a win Saturday at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.

Washington hit seven home runs against the Phillies on Friday, including two by rookie Juan Soto and the 20th of the season from Bryce Harper. The team scored 17 runs on 18 hits in the win after combining for three runs on 12 hits in its previous three games.

The victory snapped a three-game losing streak for the Nationals, who are 9-15 in June and have not won consecutive games since June 5-6. Still, they are 42-38 on the season and one game behind the Phillies in the division.

Right-hander Vince Velasquez (5-8, 4.69 ERA) will try to keep the Phillies in second place on Saturday.

With one exception, Velasquez has been reliable for the Phillies over the last two months. The hard-throwing righty has allowed fewer than three earned runs in seven of his last 10 starts. He allowed 10 runs in 3 2/3 innings against the Milwaukee Brewers on June 8 but has a 2.73 ERA in his other nine starts dating back to May 5.

Velasquez, who averages 10.8 strikeouts per nine innings, had seven strikeouts in six innings against the Yankees on Monday. He gave up two runs on three hits and four walks in the outing and took the loss as the Phillies’ offense struggled in the 4-2 defeat.

“I had a couple walks here and there Arden Key Jersey , and I had to pitch around some guys,” Velasquez told reporters after the game. “It’s a tough lineup to face.”

Saturday’s start will be Velasquez’s sixth in his career against Washington. He is 2-2 with a 5.33 ERA and 1.333 WHIP in his first five starts. This season, Velasquez held the Nationals to one run on one hit and four walks over five innings in a May 5 start in which he got the win.

Jeremy Hellickson is expected to be activated off the disabled list and make the Saturday start for the Nationals. Hellickson (2-0, 2.28) strained his right hamstring in a June 3 start and has not pitched since.

He made a rehab start for Class A Potomac last Sunday and gave up 11 runs in 4 2/3 innings. But he said he felt healthy after the outing.

“Physically, I felt fine,” Hellickson told the Washington Post last week. “I mean, obviously not how I wanted it to go, but I felt fine. Felt my stuff was pretty good. Just command was a little shaky Mark Duper Jersey , but (my) hammy was 100 percent.”

Hellickson was solid before the injury. He posted a 1.30 ERA and .548 opponent OPS in five starts during May, and the Nationals won each of those outings.

Hellickson pitched for the Phillies in the 2016 and 2017 seasons. In his only career start against Philadelphia, Hellickson did not allow an earned run in eight innings while with the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2015 season.

Baker Mayfield‘s stats were good. But perhaps the most important thing the Browns quarterback did in his debut won’t show up in a box score.

The No. 1 overall pick played well, for sure. But the 54-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Callaway in the second half might not have been possible without Mayfield getting his fellow rookie back on track.

Callaway, as you might have heard, has had a rough week. He was cited for an expired license and possession of a small amount of marijuana, which he said wasn’t his. His bosses scolded him (after promoting him to the starting lineup). Then he started the first half poorly, with two passes bouncing off his fingertips and dropping another.

Mayfield stayed in his ear Sammy Watkins Jersey , and in the second half Callaway caught three of his four targets for 87 yards, including the highlight-reel touchdown.

“I just kept telling him ‘fight through it, just keep going, keep pushing through it‘ because I needed him,” Mayfield said of Callaway, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “When you’re tired you’ve got to be able to focus. He’s a guy that we’re going to be counting on to play and so third and fourth quarter he’s got to be able to run those routes and execute it and make adjustments on the fly.”

That’s the kind of steadying influence teams need at quarterback, and a strong indicator for Mayfield’s future. He went 11-of-20 for 212 yards and two touchdowns, posting a 125.4 rating in seven possessions.

“I’m not surprised by anything Baker does because I see him do it on the practice field Drew Bledsoe Jersey ,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said. “Obviously, the throws he makes, the poise he has, he demonstrated all of that in college so I’m not surprised by it. Again, this is his first opportunity and he will grow from it. There are things he will learn from and continue to get better at, but it was a good start for him.”

The Browns are steadfast that Tyrod Taylor‘s their starting quarterback for now. But they took Mayfield first overall for a reason, and the signs he showed in the first game indicate they got that decision right for a change.

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