Nats’ Review- May 15th-20th

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Ryan Zimmerman watches his mammoth home run to left field that got the Nationals off on the right foot on Friday as Washington defeated Miami 4-1 for its third win in a row.

Five games this week against division rivals Miami and New York showed the ebbs and flows a team goes through during the course of a Major League season.  The Nats were dominated by superb pitchers in the first two games of the week, but bounced back to score runs and pick up wins as the week moved into its second half.

Here’s a look back, which was made possible in large part by Baseball-reference.com’s Play Index, at the past five games for the Nats.

SUN May 15-  Miami 5 Washington  1    Nationals Record 23-15

WP- Fernandez (5-2)    LP-  Ross (3-3)   SV- Ramos (11)

HR-  Zimmerman, Was 4),  Stanton, Mia (11) 

This matinee at Nationals Park became the Jose Fernandez show, as the Marlins’ superb righty was dominant on the mound and helped out at the plate to give Miami the win. Fernandez allowed only one run and fanned 11 in seven innings pitched, to move his career mark against Washington to 5-0 with an eye popping 1.09 ERA.  With the bat, Fernandez had two sacrifice bunts and helped put the Marlins into a comfortable lead with a two run single off of Nats’ starter Joe Ross that gave Miami a four run lead.

Ross allowed five runs (three earned) in a so-so start.  The game was only the third in 20 career starts for Ross where he’s allowed more than four runs.

Washington’s only run came on Ryan Zimmerman’s inside the park home run that resulted from a horrific looking crash between Marlins’ outfielders Marcel Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton on Zim’s deep shot to right center field.  The inside the park homer was the third in Nationals’ history, all of which have come at home.  On May 12, 2007, Austin Kearns circled the bases at RFK Stadium with Washington’s first ever inside the park homer, and Willie Harris did the trick on September 24, 2010 at Nationals Park against Atlanta.

TUES May 17-  NY Mets 2  Washington 0 (at Citi Field)   Nationals Record 23-16

WP- Syndergaard (4-2)  LP- Scherzer (4-3)   SV- Familia (13)

HR-  Granderson, NY (7),  Conforto, NY (6)

On Tuesday at Citi Field Washington’s starter Max Scherzer was good, but good rarely beats great and it didn’t on this night.  Mets’ ace Noah Syndergaard was so awesome in this one that those of us watching couldn’t help but wonder how he ever loses.

The tall New York hurler allowed only five hits, no walks and struck out 10 in his seven innings of work, marking only the second time in his career where he’s had 10 or more strikeouts while pitching at least seven innings and walking no one.

Mets’ leadoff man Curtis Granderson gave Syndergaard all the support he’d need when he hit Scherzer’s first pitch of the night over the right field wall to give the Mets a 1-0 lead. The homer was the 38th leadoff round tripper of Granderson’s career.

Scherzer’s strikeout pitches were working as well, as he fanned 10 Mets.  The game marked the second time in his career where Scherzer has been tagged with a loss while striking out at least ten and allowing two or fewer runs.  The other time came last season on May 1st at,  you guessed it, Citi Field against Matt Harvey and the Mets when Max allowed only one run and punched out 10 in a 4-0 loss.

WED May 18-  Washington 7 @ NY Mets 1     Nationals Record 24-16

WP- Gonzalez (3-1)    LP Colon (3-3)

HR- Cespedes, NY (13)

Affable Nats’ starter Gio Gonzalez usually wears a smile wherever he goes, but that smile is probably a little bit bigger when he’s in New York to face the Mets.  Gonzalez moved his career record at Citi Field to 7-1 with a 1.53 ERA as he led the Nats to a convincing win.

Gonzalez’s efficiency was in stark contrast to that of Colon and the relievers that followed him, as New York walked 11 Nationals’ batters.  The 11 free passes tied the Nats’ record for most bases on balls in a nine inning game.  The feat was done twice previously, once on May 7, 2005 at San Francisco in Washington’s 11-8 victory, and again on August 9, 2006 at RFK Stadium as Washington defeated Florida 5-2.   Nats’ two and three hitters Jayson Werth (with three) and Bryce Harper (with four) combined for seven of the walks.

Werth also contributed two hits and scored three runs in the contest.

THURS May 19-    Washington 9 @ NY Mets 1    Nationals Record 25-16

WP- Strasburg (7-0)   LP- Harvey (3-6)

HR- Murphy, Was (6)

It was anything but “Happy Harvey Day” at Citi Field on Thursday as a dominant effort by Stephen Strasburg and some fireworks by the Nats left Mets’ starter Matt Harvey perplexed and the Citi Field faithful in a sour mood.

Strasburg moved to 7-0 on the year, fanning 10 and allowing only one run in six innings.  The win was his fifth in eight career decisions against the Mets, and marked the fourth time in 10 starts against the New Yorkers where he’s had 10 or more strikeouts.

To add to the misery of the Mets’ fans, 2015 favorite son Daniel Murphy went 2 for 4 with a key two run, first innings home run off of Harvey that got the burly righthander’s night off to a bad start.  Murphy’s homer against his former team was the 68th of his career. He has now hit home runs against every National League team with the exception of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Murphy’s teammates Ben Revere and Anthony Rendon contributed to the Nats’ big night. Revere went 2 for 5 with a two run triple, marking the second time this season the Nats’ speedster has had multiple hits in a game (he had 49 such games in 2015).   Rendon did Revere one better in the hits department, going 3 for 4 with a run scored and two RBI.  In 101 career at bats at Citi Field, Rendon is hitting .337 with eight doubles, six home runs and a .959 OPS.

 

FRI May 20-    Washington 4 @ Miami 1    Nationals Record 26-16

WP- Roark (3-3)    LP- Nicolino (2-2)  SV- Papelbon (12)

HR-  Zimmerman, Was (5), Taylor, Was (4),  Ozuna, Mia (8)

Ryan Zimmerman’s 425 foot blast deep into the seats at Marlins Park was a marvel to watch, except if you happened to be Marlins’ starter Chris Nicolino or one of his teammates. Zim’s homer was his longest of the year and his first 425 plus blast since last September (when he hit a 427 foot home run at St. Louis on 9/2), and gave the Nats a lead they’d never lose in the opening game of what seems to be the 20th series of the young season between the Nats and the Marlins.

Michael A. Taylor added to the home run party in the second innings, as his laser blast to the left field seats gave the Nats a 4-0 lead.  Six of the Nats’ eight hits on the game went for extra bases, although they couldn’t add on to the 4-0 lead and saw the Marlins threaten on several occasions. Starter Tanner Roark and relievers Felipe Rivero, Shawn Kelley (who navigated expertly through troubled waters in the eighth innings) and Jonathan Papelbon made the lead hold up however, as the Nats won their third consecutive game.  The Nats’ pitchers were particularly effective against the suddenly struggling Stanton (who has no hits in his last 15 at bats), holding him hitless in four at bats and striking him out three times.

Washington’s defense helped out on Friday. Werth’s strong throw to nail Miami’s Adeiny Hechavarria as the Marlins’ shortstop tried to stretch a hit into a double in the seventh inning kept Miami from getting a runner into scoring position, and shortstop Danny Espinosa ended the game with a sparkling play that kept Miami from bringing the tying run to the plate.

 

 

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