In recent years, trips to Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park have been much more pleasant for the Nationals than they once were. These days, its the home team that is most often feeling the blues when the Nationals visit the City of Brotherly love. That was certainly the case last night when Washington ambushed Phillies’ starter Jeremy Hellickson for five first inning runs in route to an easy 9-1 win.
Nationals fans who have followed the team from the start remember the torture we went through when our team played the Atlanta Braves or Philadelphia Phillies in the team’s early years in DC. Heartbreaking late losses and devastating blowouts were experienced regularly at the hands of Washington’s NL East foes, but it looks now as though the bullied have become the bullies in these rivalries.
Following a four game sweep of the Braves earlier this week and a 9-1 rout of the home team at Citizens Bank Park last night, the Nats stand at 8-1 and have the best record in the Major Leagues.
The four game sweep of the hapless Braves at Nationals Park gave Washington 15 straight home victories over Atlanta, and a 19-5 mark against the Bravos since 2014. The series saw dominant pitching by the Nats against Atlanta’s less than powerful lineup, big home runs by Daniel Murphy, Jayson Werth, Stephen Drew and Bryce Harper (his being a dramatic grand slam bomb for his 100th career round-tripper) and solid all-around play by a seeming revived Wilson Ramos as they overpowered the Braves in the sweep.
On Friday, the Nats won for the seventh time in their last eight games at Citizens Bank Park as they put a five spot on the Phils in the top of the first and never looked back on the way to a 9-1 win. Michael A. Taylor started the game off with a booming lead off homer, and former Phil Jayson Werth continued to torture his old team with a three run double to the deepest part of the ballpark to expand the lead to 4-0. After Danny Espinosa chipped in with a solid RBI single (his first hit since the second game of the season in Atlanta), the Nats were up 5-0 and on their way to their sixth straight win.
So far the Nats’ rotation has been spectacular, the team’s hitters are getting the big hit when they need it, the bullpen has been better than advertised and the Dusty Baker-led coaching staff is pushing all of the right buttons for the first place Nats. It’s early of course and the Braves/Phillies are among the National League’s least imposing teams, but signs are pointing to 2016 being a fun year in DC.