Nationals blast Rockies as offensive explosion continues

As politicians in Washington debatea government shutdown, baseball observers arepondering a different question: Can anyone shut down theNationals’ offense?The Nationalspounded the Rockies16-5Thursday afternoonfor their 10th win in 11 games.After hanging double-digit runs on the Rockies the previous two games in 15-12 and 11-4 wins, the Nationals scored 11 runs in the seventh inning alone Thursday to key the rout.Sure, every team’s bats look awesome in the thin air of Coors Field. But the Nationals torched the Braves for 14 runs last week, and the Cardinals for 14 runs the week before. Their offenseis not an illusion.Most observers expected the Nats to havea dangerouslineup this season, but few predicted this kind of firepower. The Nationals lead baseball with 139runs scored, and have the best OPS (.817) as well. It seems everyone is off to a hot start. Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, Daniel Murphy, Trea Turner and Adam Lind are all hitting over .300, and Harper, Murphy and Zimmerman ranked in the top five in the NL in RBIs entering Thursday.When you’re scoring runs in clusters, it can mask some deficiencies. The Nats bullpenis still a work in progre s, as the Nationals are near the bottom of the MLB rankings in team ERA. Dusty Baker and his staff can breathe a little easier knowing a three-run blast from Harper or Zimmerman can make up for a hanging curvefrom a middle reliever.Coming off a 9-1 road trip, the Nats head home Friday to begin a series against the Mets.Stud of the nightTigers ace Justin Verlander looked very shaky in his last two starts, prompting concern in the Motor City. Cancel the red alert. Verlander looking very strong in seven scorele s innings Thursday against the Mariners. He struck out eightand scattered five hits and two walks.He didn ‘t get a decision in Seattle’s2-1 victory.Dudof the nightMets starter Matt Harvey gave up six earned runs in 4 1/3 innings against the Braves in a 7-5 lo s. The right-handeryieldedfive hits and five walks. On a positive note, Harvey had four quality starts to begin the season before Thursday’s tough outing.HighlightsEvery kid dreams of hitting a walk-off grand slam to win a game in extra innings. Matt Carpenter lived that dream Thursday afternoon as the Cardinals beat the Blue Jays 8-4 in 11 innings. After crushinga 456-foot go-ahead home run, Francisco Lindor admitted, “I’m not supposed to hit it that far.”Go ahead and hit that go-ahead homer, @Lindor12BC. #Crushed MLB (@MLB) April 28, 2017What’s nextMets (8-13) at Nationals(16-6), 7:05 p.m. ET This is a juicy early season pitching matchup, with Max Scherzer (3-1, 1.95 ERA) facingJacob deGrom (0-1, 2.55 ERA). DeGrom will have his hands full against the top-scoring teamin the majors.