Milwaukee’s Chris Carter celebrates his first inning three run homer against Washington’s Gio Gonzalez with teammate Ryan Braun in yesterday’s 6-5 win by the Brewers over the slumping Nationals.
On a day when the Milwaukee Brewers and Washington Nationals honored the Homestead Grays and the Milwaukee Bears of the Negro Leagues, Brewers’ slugger Chris Carter led the home team to victory with a blast that would have made Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard or any of the other prodigious home run hitters in the Negro Leagues proud. Carter’s first inning home run got the Brew Crew off on the right foot and continued the first-place but slumping Nationals’ misery, as the Nats dropped their seventh game in a row.
Nats Record 43-32
WP- Garza (1-0) LP- Gonzalez (3-7) SV- Jeffress (21)
HR- Carter (19)
STARS OF THE GAME
Third Star– Jeremy Jeffress’ 21st save of the season came the hard way, protecting a one run lead with the Nationals’ best hitters facing him. After Bryce Harper led off the top of the ninth with a single, Jeffress retired Daniel Murphy on a deep fly to right and got Wilson Ramos to ground into a game-ending double play to give Milwaukee the win.
Second Star– When one thinks of the best leadoff men in the National League, chances are that the Brewers’ Jonathan Villar is not one of the first names that comes to mind. Perhaps that should change. Villar went 3 for 4 with a run scored, a RBI and his 26th stolen base of the year to help the Brewers to victory. Villar is hitting .299 with a robust .380 on base percentage this season.
Star of the Game– Milwaukee first baseman Chris Carter doesn’t always make contact, but when he does it is often special. Carter’s booming three run first inning home run set the pace for the Brewers in a game where Nats’ starter Gio Gonzalez couldn’t seem to get any traction. Carter has 19 homers on the year and is on pace to beat his personal best of 37 round trippers that he had for Houston in 2014.
Valiant in Defeat– National League batting leader Daniel Murphy was on his game yesterday, going 3 for 5 with a triple, two singles and two loud outs on which he just missed picking up extra base hits. Murphy is now hitting .354 on the year.
After starting with giving up more than two earned runs in only one of his first eight starts, Gio Gonzalez has surrendered an average of five earned runs over his last seven. Gonzalez’s ERA on the year has ballooned to 4.73.
Washington picked up three more sacrifice flies in the game, moving its National League leading total to 33 on the season. The Nats’ total is nine more than second place San Francisco’s and Milwaukee’s 24 scoring fly balls.
Danny Espinosa’s box score line (0 0 0 2) is one you don’t see every day. In his four plate appearances, the Nats’ shortstop drove in a run with a sacrifice bunt, drove in another with a sacrifice fly and walked twice.
Numbers sometimes don’t tell the whole story, but they certainly do provide clues to why the Nats have struggled at times despite being two games up in the National League East. At three positions in particular, Washington has lagged behind its competition in the Senior Circuit. Using the Wins Above Average metric, one can see the lack of production the Nats have had at the three problematic positions:
First Base -1.4 WAA NL Rank (14)
LF -1.1 WAA NL Rank (T11)
CF -2.2 WAA NL Rank (15)
Tanner Roark takes the hill today for the Nats, looking for his seventh win of the year. Roark has gone at least six innings in 12 of his 15 starts on the year. The Brewers’ Ryan Braun has three hits (including a triple) in seven career at bats against Roark, while second baseman Scooter Gennett is hitless in six at bats against the Nats’ righty.
Brewers’ tall righthander Jimmy Nelson leads the National League with 13 batters hit so far this season, so Nats’ shortstop Danny Espinosa best wear his heavy armor in today’s contest. Nelson has allowed 15 earned runs in 18 innings pitched this month. Bryce Harper is 3 for 5 with a home run in his career against Nelson.