The Rundown: Scherzer Wins Battle of Aces, Quirky Lineup, Cubs Representing on All-Star Ballot, Vogelbach to DL

Two of the biggest free-agent pitching signings from last offseason squared off last night, and, unfortunately for the Cubs, the Nationals’ Max Scherzer was simply too overpowering.

Scherzer struck out 13 through 7 scoreless innings and gave up only five hits.

Jon Lester by no means had a bad game. Also going 7 innings, he gave up two runs (one earned) and struck out 10.

I was unable to watch this one, as I was at the Blackhawks game, but every time I checked my phone, another Cub was striking out, and I knew Scherzer was dealing. Sometimes you need to just tip your cap to a ridiculous pitcher like Scherzer.

Despite dropping 2 out of 3 to the Nationals, I’m actually fairly content with how the Cubs played in the series. They definitely held their own with arguably the best team in the National League.

Next they will be tested against the AL Central co-leaders Kansas City Royals. But the timing might be right, as the Royals have dropped four straight, including being swept by the Yankees.

Mixing it up

Joe Maddon went with a somewhat surprising lineup on Wednesday to face Max Scherzer.

Dexter Fowler moved from his usual lead-off spot to the clean-up role. Chris Coghlan led off, Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant switched in the 2 and 3 spots, and Jorge Soler got the night off.

Before the game, Maddon told the media the regular lineup would be “too easy” for Scherzer, and that Fowler could provide protection.

I’m actually a little surprised we haven’t seen more whacky lineups from Maddon over the course of the year. But with the Cubs struggling a bit at the plate lately, perhaps he felt a shakeup could help things. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to solve the Nationals’ ace.

All-star voting

No Cubs are leading the way in All-Star voting, but three are in second place for their respective positions.

Anthony Rizzo (1B), Kris Bryant (3B) and Starlin Castro (SS) are each second behind Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Carpenter and Jhonny Peralta, respectively.

I think all three could be deserving of an All-Star appearance. I’m sure it won’t be the last time we see these players in the All-Star picture.

You can vote for your All-Star choices online.

Non-Cub injuries

Two recent injuries could have indirect impacts on the Cubs: First, Cardinals first-baseman Matt Adams will be out three to four months with a strained quad. Adams hasn’t had a particularly great year so far, but it still could be a big loss for the Red Birds.

The Cardinals are already dealing with the season-ending injury to ace Adam Wainwright. Yet they continue to roll on at the top of the division.

The second injury involves a pitcher who the Cubs may have targeted in a trade at some point this season. Scott Kazmir left Wednesday’s start after 3 innings with a sore shoulder. The A’s are awaiting results of an MRI, but shoulder soreness usually isn’t a good sign.

Other notes

* Dan Vogelbach, who has had a nice offensive season so far in Double-A Tennessee, has been placed on the DL with a hamstring injury.

* Albert Almora hit his second home run, and Kyle Schwarber went 2-for-6 with an RBI in the Smokies’ 3-2 win in 13 innings on Wednesday.


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