/Greg Fiume/Getty Images WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 11: Austin Bibens-Dirkx #56 of the Texas Rangers pitches in the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on June 11, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Instant replay and observations from the Rangers’ 5-1 win over the Washington Nationals Sunday at Nationals Park:
What you need to know: Austin Bibens-Dirkx beat Max Scherzer and the Rangers swept the team with the best record in the National League. Is there much more that needs to be said? OK, here’s this: The go-ahead run scored on an eighth-inning passed ball. The Rangers moved back within two games of .500, and despite everything they’ve deal with this year, they are two games back of the second wild card spot in the American League.
Dude of the day: Usually, this goes to a position player, but, on Sunday? Come on. Austin Bibens-Dirkx allowed a homer on the second pitch of the game and then a single. And then, for more than five innings, absolutely nothing. He retired 19 straight. It is the most by a Rangers’ rookie pitcher since the stat was tracked in 1974. Yu Darvish retired 17 in game against Seattle in 2012 and Matt Harrison 18 against Tampa Bay in 2008. Others to retire 18 straight Mike Smithson (1993), John Butcher (1980) and Stan Thomas (1975)
Rotation report: Rangers starters have had no issues facing NL hitters. In a dozen games against NL teams this year, starters have compiled a 2.88 ERA and averaged 6.1 innings per outing. They have gone at least seven innings seven times. In five games under NL rules — meaning no DH — the starters have a 2.12 ERA. The Rangers don’t play another game under NL rules until a two-game set with New York August 8-9.
Did you know? The Rangers struck out at least eight times for the 16th consecutive game. It is tied for the third longest streak in MLB history. Philadelphia struck out at least times in 17 consecutive games last year. The record: Houston had 28 such games in 2013.
Elvis strikes again: Down to his last at-bat to keep his hitting streak going, Elvis Andrus bounced a high chopper just inside the third base line that rattled around in the corner for a two-run triple. It extended the hitting streak to 15 games. He is one shy of his career best. But most importantly it opened up what had just become the Rangers’ first lead of the game from 2-1 to 4-1. Nomar Mazara followed with a sacrifice fly.
Mr. 2,000: Max Scherzer became the third fastest pitcher in major league history, in terms of innings pitched, to reach 2,000 strikes. He reached it at 1,784 innings by striking out Nomar Mazara for his fifth strikeout of the game to start the fourth inning.
Choo’s choice: Max Scherzer does not scare Shin-Soo Choo. The Rangers right fielder singled in his first at-bat after falling down 0-2, then homered with two outs in the third to tie the game. Choo is 14 for 24 (.583) against Scherzer for his career with three homers.
One is enough: Elvis Andrus’ triple was the Rangers’ only official at-bat with a runner in scoring position. It’s the first time the Rangers have won a game with one or zero at-bats with RISP since June 16, 2016 at St. Louis. It was just the fifth such win for the team in the last 10 years.