Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg helped Washington begin the second half of the season with a four-game sweep of the Reds. Strasburg struck out 11 and walked just one while giving up one run off four hits over seven innings in a 6-1 victory in Cincinnati. Helping to give Strasburg plenty of run support were Ryan Zimmerman, who went 3 for 5 with a solo homer, and Bryce Harper, who hit a three-run home run as part of a two-hit day.
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Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton went 2 for 3 with a pair of monster homers in Miami’s 6-5 win over the Phillies. Stanton was also walked twice, but the Marlins needed a Dee Gordon single in the 10th for a walk-off win. Gordon had three hits, including the game-winner.
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James himself had expressed minor anxiety about the Cavs’ struggles, but he mostly shrugged off the notion of Eastern Conference threats and the idea this game represented a big one for his team.
I’m sorry, he said Tuesday. I’ve been to six straight Finals, man. I’m the last person to ask about a regular-season game, dude. Sorry.
He’s right. James has been a postseason force in recent years. His playoff averages for the last six seasons have been 27.2 points on 48.9 percent shooting, with 9.0 rebounds and 6.5 assists.
For the advanced-stat crowd, he has led the postseason in VORP (value over replacement player) in all six postseasons, and in box score plus-minus in the last five. He has led the playoffs in win shares in five of the last six years. That’s how you get to all those Finals. When his teams — the Heat, and now the Cavs — have needed him, James has been at his best.