Nationals-Blue Jays Preview

The Associated Press

With Stephen Strasburg on the mound, the Washington Nationals have a very good chance to make team history.

The right-hander tries to win his fifth straight start while looking to help the Nationals sweep the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday to complete a perfect six-game road trip.

Strasburg (7-1, 2.41 ERA) is 4-0 with a 2.74 ERA since losing to San Diego on May 15. He allowed two runs and matched a season high with 13 strikeouts in six innings of a 7-4 win at Boston on Friday to begin Washington's current five-game winning streak.

Strasburg, who turns 24 next month, became the youngest pitcher to strike out 13 at Fenway Park since Roger Clemens fanned 20 against Seattle in 1986.

"He's not just a thrower, he's a pitcher,'' Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said. "He's special. He's a very good pitcher, obviously.''

Strasburg, however, hopes to be more efficient Wednesday after throwing a career-high 119 pitches against the Red Sox.

"Obviously, you don't want to go out there and throw that many pitches," he told the Nationals' official website. "That's where I need to do a better job of pounding the strike zone and making them swing the bat."

This will be the first start against Toronto for Strasburg, who is 3-1 with a 1.84 ERA in five interleague outings. He is looking to join teammate Gio Gonzalez with eight wins.

The NL East-leading Nationals (37-23) matched a season high with their fifth straight victory Tuesday, 4-2 over the Blue Jays. Winners of six consecutive interleague games, the Nationals are trying to complete their first 6-0 trip since relocating from Montreal.

They last swept Toronto from June 14-16, 2002, in Montreal, but have never done so at Rogers Centre.

"(Wednesday) is going to be a big day,'' said manager Davey Johnson, whose team has a four-game lead over Atlanta in the East. "We've got our big horse going. We just need to finish this off.''

Bryce Harper hit a deep home run off the center field restaurant Tuesday while recording his second straight three-hit game.

"I don't really hit big home runs,'' Harper said. "It's usually just line drives that get going. That was a pretty good one.''

The budding star outfielder is 9 for 16 with two home runs and five RBIs during the last five games.

Jose Bautista hit a two-run homer Tuesday for the Blue Jays (31-31), who are in danger of slipping below the .500 mark for the first time this season after losing for the fifth time in six games. Toronto has been held to three or fewer runs in each of its last five defeats.

"We're scuffling right now a little bit with men in scoring position,'' manager John Farrell said.

Bautista, who had two of his team's five hits Tuesday, has hit six of his 18 home runs and recorded 14 RBIs over his last 10 contests.

Facing Washington for the first time, scheduled Toronto starter Kyle Drabek (4-6, 4.43) is 0-2 with an 8.59 ERA in his last three starts. The right-hander gave up three runs and four walks in five innings of a 4-3, 10-inning loss at Atlanta on Friday.

  • Russell Wilson has a radical idea for breaking ties after OT

    Daddy-to-be Russell Wilson wasn’t thrilled to walk off the field after Sunday’s strange 6-6 tie with the Arizona Cardinals. You kick one field goal,” Wilson told reporters in Arizona. “You can’t do anything else but a field goal.

    Shutdown Corner
  • HIGHLIGHTS: Rangers' five unanswered goals catapults them past Bruins, 5-2

    The Bruins jumped out to an early lead, but couldn't hold on as the Rangers stormed back in the final two periods with five unanswered goals. Led by Brandon Pirri, the Rangers defeated the struggling Bruins 5-2.

    NBC Sports
  • Major League Baseball continues to waffle on Chief Wahoo

    World Series fever is gripping Cleveland, but an American Indian organization based in Cleveland is calling for protest. Of course such protests have taken place for years, with the Cleveland American Indian Movement and others referring to Chief Wahoo as a “symbol of genocide” while simultaneously noting its similarity to blackface “Sambo” characters and other racist imagery that has long since been banished from polite society. I’m assuming that the protesters are, as they usually are, being ignored by Indians fans as they make their way to the gates of Progressive Field. Fans like this one. Meanwhile, Wahoo remains, institutionalized by the Cleveland Indians and Major League Baseball in ways

  • Is Jake Browning the nation's best quarterback?

    Dr. Saturday's Graham Watson takes a look at the Washington Huskies quarterback in this week's Heisman Watch.

    Yahoo Sports Videos
  • Experienced Cup drivers limited to 17 Xfinity and Truck Series races a year starting in 2017

    Kyle Busch will only be able to make 10 Xfinity Series starts in 2017. A rule limiting Sprint Cup drivers in NASCAR’s No. 2 and No. 3 series is official. NASCAR said Wednesday that Cup drivers with five years full-time experience in the series will be limited to 10 Xfinity races and seven Camping World Truck Series races a season starting in 2017.

    From The Marbles
  • Tim Tebow answered Stephen A. Smith's dumb question with a riveting inspirational speech

    Hate on Tim Tebow all you want, but there’s no denying he’s one of the most motivational guys in sports — period. On Tuesday he appeared with Stephen A. Smith on First Take and dropped the best speech you’ll hear all week. When he was criticized for taking a long shot at making an MLB roster, Tebow dropped the hammer.

    SB Nation
  • Bruins' David Backes to miss at least 2 games after elbow surgery

    The injuries affecting the Boston Bruins isn’t only limited to their crease. Aside from being without their top two goaltenders they were also missing Frank Vatrano, Kevan Miller and David Backes. Backes is the newest member of the Bruins’ injured list and his situation was clarified a bit by the team on Wednesday morning.

    Puck Daddy
  • DeMarcus Ware credits Broncos fans for getting his Super Bowl ring back

    Denver Broncos fans had DeMarcus Ware’s back. When news broke that Ware’s Super Bowl 50 ring was stolen as the Broncos played on “Monday Night Football” against the Houston Texans, Broncos fans went to work, spreading around pictures of the thieves on social media and calling in tips to police. By Wednesday, Ware’s ring was back.

    Shutdown Corner
  • Rumor Roundup: Goldberg HoF, McMahon/Trump, Hardy/TNA, Paige

    Speculating on the rumors surrounding pro wrestling is a favored pastime of many fans, perhaps second only to actually watching the matches. In this daily column, we take a look at the latest rumors being churned out by the pro wrestling rumor mill. Important reminder: Rumors are just that -- rumors. None of this has been confirmed as legitimate news or fact, it's just circulating around the pro wrestling rumor mill. Remember, take it all with a grain of salt. Rumors for the Day: Goldberg is expected to headline the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2017. Vince McMahon reportedly told current talent (and any former employees who asked him) to not respond to media inquiries about WWE Hall of Famer and

    Cageside Seats
  • The 15 Best-Dressed Ballers in the NBA

    In honor of the start of a new NBA season tonight, we're rounding up the best dressed basketball players in the game right now. Though some fashion-forward athletes like Kobe Bryant and Amar'e Stoudemire have recently hung up their jerseys, the are plenty

    Harper's Bazaar
  • Man United beats City in EFL Cup Manchester derby, easing pressure on Mourinho

    Juan Mata scored the winning goal for Manchester United in the 54th minute. For an October game in the lamentably irrelevant League Cup, now for some reason renamed as the English Football League Cup, this one actually mattered. Because it was a Manchester derby, of course.

    FC Yahoo
  • Kyle Schwarber shows why he's a freak of nature who can do some World Series damage for the Cubs

    Kyle Schwarber is a freak of nature, a hitter with the hand-eye coordination, explosiveness and guts to do what should be impossible. Now you know why the Cubs always believed Schwarber could help get them that championship parade down Michigan Avenue — and how the Cleveland Indians won’t just fade into history’s background as The Other Team. “No, not right now,” Schwarber said.

    Yahoo Sports
  • HSBC Champions: Tee Times, TV Schedule, Prize Money

    (c) 2016 Time Inc. Star-Studded Field for First WGC Event of the Season Russell Knox looks to defend his 2015 WGC-HSBC Champions title against a star-studded field that includes Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler.Russell Knox

  • Georges St-Pierre shuts down rumored Michael Bisping fight at UFC 206

    A proposed fight between Georges St-Pierre and Michael Bisping at UFC 206 was quickly shot down by GSP. For a moment, there appeared to be a light at the end of the tunnel in the ongoing battle between Georges St-Pierre and the UFC. After St-Pierre declared himself as a free agent, the UFC drew their line in the sand and stated that the former champion was still under contract.

  • Welcome to the Tim Tebow baseball and PR Experience

    In the last seven days, I've talked to a handful of Mets insiders, none of whom believe Tim Tebow will be with the team next spring in Port St. Lucie. I've heard several different reasons behind their thinking. But, in the end, everyone agreed that -- if he's still with the organization -- he's more likely to show up in St. Lucie when minor-league camp starts, as opposed to when big leaguers arrive in February. This is good news ... if you ask me. It's nothing against Tebow, who has every right to pursue a career in baseball. It's just, the Mets have real goals, and real business at hand, as they try to right their ship and get back to the World Series. I expect Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah

  • Hampus Lindholm finally signs with Anaheim; now, who leaves?

    The Anaheim Ducks have finally signed their restricted free-agent defenseman – and, well, best defenseman – Hampus Lindholm to a six-year contract extension with an average annual value of $5.25 million, according to Bob McKenzie. Lindholm, 22, has played 236 NHL games and has 23 goals and 69 assists. Lindholm wasn’t eligible for salary arbitration, so playing hardball was the only effective tactic he and agent Claude Lemieux had.

    Puck Daddy
  • The Dr. Saturday Podcast: The College Football Rankings are coming

    Will Michigan remain undefeated after playing reeling rival Michigan State. In this week’s edition of the rankings we wonder if Tuesday’s College Football Playoff rankings will mimic the AP poll. As always, you can listen to the podcast in the player below or via iTunes where you can subscribe right here.

    Dr. Saturday
  • Column: Should NHRA get with the times to grow sport?

    Drag racing has been one of the biggest motorsport passions of my life. Ever since the first time I went to the now-defunct U.S. 30 Dragstrip in northwest Indiana – with the famous loud and echoing radio liner, “Sunday, Sunday, Sunday, at beautiful U.S. 30 Dragstrip, where the GREAT ONES Runnnnnnn!” – in the early 1970s, I’ve been a big fan of the quarter-mile. (By the way, for those in the Midwest who remember U.S. 30, which closed nearly 30 years ago, efforts are under way to bring it back. But I digress.) As a reporter, I’ve covered drag racing since the early 1980s. I still get as excited today following the sport as I did back then. But … and you probably figured a but was coming. While

  • New starter Dennis Schröder signs a multi-year extension with the Atlanta Hawks

    The Atlanta Hawks did as they had to. Fourth-year guard Dennis Schröder was signed to a four-year, $70 million contract extension on Wednesday, ESPN’s Marc Stein and Zach Lowe were the first to break the news. The move came on the eve of Schröder’s debut as a (hoped-for) season-long starter as Atlanta starting point guard, with the Hawks opening their 2016-17 campaign at home against Washington on Thursday night.

    Ball Don't Lie
  • EFL Cup QF draw: Man United-West Ham; Arsenal-Saints in all-PL ties

    Following the conclusion of Wednesday’s Manchester derby in the fourth round of the 2016-17 EFL Cup, the draw for the quarterfinal round presented a pair of all-Premier League clashes. Manchester United will take on West Ham United at Old Trafford, while Arsenal will welcome Southampton to the Emirates Stadium. All quarterfinal fixtures will be played the week commencing Nov. 28. As for the other two matchups, Liverpool host Leeds United at Anfield, and Hull City will face one of the three clubs they replaced in the PL this season, recently relegated Newcastle United, at the KCOM Stadium. Full EFL Cup quarterfinal draw Liverpool vs. Leeds United Manchester United vs. West Ham Hull City vs. Newcastle

  • Alex Rodriguez is taking his analyst role quite seriously

    If you’ve happened to catch any of the coverage of the 2016 postseason on Fox and FS1, you’ve heard former Yankees DH Alex Rodriguez as part of an analyst panel with host Kevin Burkhardt and former major leaguers Pete Rose and Frank Thomas. Rodriguez has drawn rave reviews not just for passing a rather low bar we set for former athletes-turned-commentators, but because he’s adding real insight drawn both from his playing days and from doing research. Indeed, Rodriguez is taking his new job as an analyst quite seriously, Newsday’s Neil Best reports. Bardia Shah-Rais, the VP of production for Fox, said of Rodriguez, “This is not a hobby for him. It’s not a parachute in. He’s invested. If we have

  • Six more Olympic medalists stripped in Beijing 2008 retests

    LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Nine more athletes, including six medal winners, were retroactively disqualified from the 2008 Beijing Olympics on Wednesday after failing retests of their doping samples. The International Olympic Committee announced the decisions in the latest sanctions imposed on athletes whose stored samples came back positive after being retested with improved methods. Four athletes were stripped of silver medals and two of bronze medals in weightlifting, wrestling and women’s steeplechase. All six athletes come from former Soviet countries — Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan — and all tested positive for steroids. The IOC stores doping samples for 10 years

  • Melvin Gordon on his confidence, breakout 2016

    Yahoo Sports' Evan Doherty talks with San Diego Chargers running back Melvin Gordon about his huge start to the 2016 season, motivation from fans and major injuries in the offense.

    Yahoo Sports Videos
  • Don’t look now, but the Red Wings have won five straight

    A 26th straight playoff appearance? It seemed, when this season began, that not many were giving the Detroit Red Wings much of a chance to accomplish the feat. Time will tell. Despite their doubters, the Red Wings have now won five straight games, following a pretty uninspiring start with back-to-back losses in Florida to begin the season. Their latest win came Tuesday, as the Red Wings beat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2. (For Carolina, that wraps up a six-game road trip to begin the season.) Dylan Larkin, who had 23 goals as a rookie in 2015-16, finally got his first two goals of this season, scoring twice against the Hurricanes. So far, 11 players on their roster have scored, with Darren Helm

  • NHL Three Stars: Habs stay unbeaten in regulation; Ducks thump Preds

    Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin (8) looks on as Edmonton Oilers’ goalie Cam Talbot (33) and other players get into a scrum during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Edmonton, Alberta, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press

    Puck Daddy