April 22, 2014

While the focus might remain on Mike Trout and Bryce Harper as the standout outfielders square off in a series for the first time, the Washington Nationals aren't in a position to be picky about who provides their offense.

The teams with two of baseball's brightest young stars reconvene Tuesday night in Washington with the home team trying to end a slump at the plate.

After Monday's 4-2 series-opening loss, the Nationals (11-9) are batting .181 with 11 runs scored in their last five games.

Trout was 2 for 5 while Harper went 0 for 3 with a walk and is 2 for 18 in his last five games, so Washington's left fielder is more concerned with getting his own house in order than worrying about comparisons to Trout.

"Not at all, because I know I'm a damn good player, and he is, too," Harper told the team's official website. "We're going to roll through baseball over the next 20 years, hopefully, and make people turn their heads."

Trout, meanwhile, has hit safely in 11 straight games against the NL with a .477 average and 1.281 OPS.

"It's not about him," teammate Albert Pujols told the team's official website. "It's about what he can do to help this ballclub. Young players, especially 22 years old, don't do that in this era. That's what I admire the most about him."

Los Angeles (9-10) has won seven of its last eight interleague games and got another strong outing Monday as Garrett Richards allowed a run and a hit in six innings. Angels starters have held opponents to a .165 average in the last four games but have issued 15 free passes.

Tyler Skaggs is next in line to keep the former going while putting an end to the latter.

After a promising first start, Skaggs (1-0, 3.43 ERA) has labored in his last two outings, allowing eight runs in 13 innings. The 22-year-old allowed four runs on seven hits and three walks in six innings of Wednesday's 5-4, 12-inning home win over Oakland.

He's never faced the Nationals or any of their hitters, and that can also be said about Washington starter Taylor Jordan's history with the Angels.

Jordan (0-2, 5.94) also had his best outing so far this season in his debut and has fallen off considerably since, allowing 12 runs on 17 hits in 10 1-3 innings over his last two starts. The right-hander took the loss in both, most recently giving up seven runs in Thursday's 8-0 loss to St. Louis.

Former Cardinal David Freese, who is hitting .140 with a .194 on-base percentage in his first season with the Angels, was out of the starting lineup Monday and struck out as a pinch hitter in the seventh.

"Just trying to give him a little breather and trying to get him to maybe decompress a little bit," manager Mike Scioscia said. "Long term, he's going to have a terrific season."

Washington's Jayson Werth reached base three times Monday but went 0 for 1 and is in a 3-for-31 slump at the plate.

You May Like