Monday, April 11, 2016

Scherzer, Norris meet rivals again, this time in DC

The Braves' and Nationals' lineups will face familiar opposition on the mound Monday when the teams square off at Nationals Park for the first game of a four-game series.
Monday's starters, Bud Norris for Atlanta and Max Scherzer for Washington, both started in the teams' season-opening series last week.
Scherzer pitched Opening Day last Monday, allowing the Braves only three hits and two runs in seven innings, and Norris threw the following day, ceding three runs in seven innings.
While Scherzer's strong performance was no surprise, Norris' outing marked an impressive debut following a difficult 2015 season (3-11, 6.72 ERA). The right-hander found success against the Nationals by relying on his low-to-mid-90s fastball, which he threw on 62 of his 93 pitches. He held Washington scoreless through six innings before a couple of defensive miscues set the stage for Matt den Dekker to ruin the outing with a two-out, two-run double in the seventh inning.
"He was pretty sharp," said Nationals outfielder Michael Taylor, who went 0-4 with two strikeouts against Norris. "He just hit his spots and made the pitches he needed to make in big spots, and we didn't execute with runners in scoring position."
Things to know about this game
• Mallex Smith, Atlanta's 11th-best prospect per MLB.Pipeline.com, will join the Braves for Monday's series opener. Smith learned he was getting his first call to the Majors shortly after the Braves placed Ender Inciarte on the 15-day disabled list (left hamstring strain) on Sunday. The 22-year-old Smith tripled in his first two Spring Training at-bats and ended up hitting .346 (9-for-26) during the Grapefruit League season.
• Ryan Zimmerman has hit Norris hard in limited at-bats. The Washington first baseman is 6-for-17 in his career against Norris, with three home runs and nine RBIs. On the other end of the spectrum, Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth is only 3-for-19 career off Norris, with seven strikeouts.
• Though the Nationals and Braves faced off 19 times last season, Scherzer started against Atlanta only once, throwing 8 1/3 innings and allowing two runs, the second via a walk-off single from Cameron Maybin. Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman hit .436 against the Nationals in 2015, with seven doubles and a 1.137 OPS. For his career, Freeman has hit .333/.392/.516 off Washington pitching.

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