Max Scherzer’s best start to date in the 2016 season helped the Washington Nationals to a 6-1 victory on Sunday as the Nats wrapped up a three game sweep of the home-standing St. Louis Cardinals.
Nats Record- 17-7
WP- Scherzer (3-1) LP- Martinez (4-1)
HR- Robinson Was (1), Espinosa Was (2), Heisey Was (3), Moss Stl (6)
Excellent starting pitching, solid defense and timely power hitting were the keys as the Nationals finished their three game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals with a 6-1 victory. The sweep was the Nationals’ first ever in St. Louis.
STARS OF THE GAME
Third Star- His batting average may be below the Mendoza Line and he only had one hit on the game, but Jose Lobaton fought the good fight for the Nationals all weekend long in Wilson Ramos’ absence and certainly was a key to the team’s success on Sunday. Lobaton’s sixth inning single off of Cards’ starter Carlos Martinez set the table for the first run of the game, a run that was tallied after Lobaton moved to second on Max Scherzer’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Matt den Dekker’s single to center. Over the weekend, Lobaton also helped lead a Nats’ starting pitching staff that held a powerful Cards’ lineup in check.
Second Star- Clint Robinson was a pleasant surprise in 2015, hitting .272 with 10 home runs and 34 RBI. His success last season had not translated over to 2016, but perhaps Sunday’s game will get Robinson moving in the right direction. The left-handed swinger had the big blow in Sunday’s game, hitting a two run home run off of Martinez in the top of the seventh inning that extended Washington’s lead to 3-0.
Star of the Game- All Scherzer did on the game was throw seven innings of shutout ball with nine strikeouts and go two for two with a sacrifice bunt at the plate as he won his third game in four decisions on the year. Scherzer allowed only four hits on the game and did not issue a walk, marking the seventh time he’s fanned at least nine batters and walked no one in his time with the Nationals.
Valiant in Defeat- Martinez was suffering from an illness leading into the game and he eventually tired in the seventh inning, but the flame throwing young pitcher showed his tremendous potential in the contest as he struck out eight and looked dominant in stretches. The loss was Martinez’s first in five decisions on the year.
Chris Heisey’s ninth inning pinch-hit home run was the 13th of his career, the most of any active Major League player.
The Nats take their three game winning streak to Kansas City to take on the World Champion Royals. Gio Gonzalez starts for Washington. The left-hander has been strong in May during his career, going 15-6 with a 3.51 ERA. Gonzalez has struggled in interleague contests however, winning only seven of his 18 decisions and allowing a 1.455 WHIP while putting up a hefty 4.74 ERA. His mound opponent Edinson Volquez is 10-5 with a 3.64 ERA in his career at Kaufman Stadium. Volquez is coming off his worst start to date in the 2016 saeason as he allowed eight runs in five innings pitched at the Los Angeles Angels on April 26th. Nats’ second baseman Daniel Murphy is 7 for 20 in his career against Volquez.