What a difference a day makes. On Sunday, the Nationals hit six home runs and scored 12 times in an easy win over the Reds. Today in the annual 4th of July matinee, the Nats fell 1-0 to 31 year old rookie Junior Guerra and the Milwaukee Brewers in a game where they only registered two hits.
Brewers 1 Nationals 0
Nationals Record- 50-34
WP- Guerra (6-1) LP- Scherzer (9-6) SV- Jeffress (22)
HR- Maldonado, Mil (3)
STARS OF THE GAME
Third Star– Milwaukee’s Jeremy Jeffress earned his 22nd save of the year and he did it the hard way, navigating through the heart of the Nationals’ lineup and some difficult weather conditions. In earning his third save in as many appearances against the Nats in 2016, Jeffress retired Jayson Werth on a grounder to third, got Bryce Harper on a hard grounder to short and retired Ryan Zimmerman on a comeback grounder after he had walked Wilson Ramos to put the tying run on base.
Second Star– Hitting only .154 at the time of his fifth inning at bat, Brewers’ reserve catcher Martin Maldonado seemed to be an unlikely threat to break a scoreless tie. Maldonado did break the tie however in a big way, driving a mammoth home run to left to score the game’s only run. The homer was Maldonado’s third of the year and his second against the Nats (he also homered on Sunday June 26th off of Shawn Kelley in Washington’s 3-2 victory at Milwaukee).
Star of the Game- 31 year old rookie pitchers in the Majors are as rare as a 70 degree day on the 4th of July in Washington, DC, but Milwaukee’s Junior Guerra continued his surprising success in his first Major League season with 7.2 innings of dominant pitching. Guerra allowed only two hits (singles by Danny Espinosa and Werth) and struck out seven to improve to 6-1 on the year.
Valiant in Defeat- One can’t fault the Nationals’ pitching staff for today’s loss. Max Scherzer, Felipe Rivero, Kelley and recently activated Jonathan Papelbon combined to hold the Brew Crew to five hits and one run in a strong effort. Unfortunately for the Nationals, Milwaukee’s pitchers on the day were slightly better.
The Nationals have been shut out 57 times at Nationals Park since 2008, with seven coming in 1-0 games. The last time the Nats dropped a 1-0 contest at home was on May 14, 2011 when Annibal Sanchez out dueled Livan Hernandez in a game that was won on a seventh inning home run by Giancarlo (then known as Mike) Stanton.
The Brewers white-washing of the Nationals in the Nation’s Capital marked the second time Milwaukee has pitched a shutout in DC since 2005. On July 2, 2013, the Brewers scored four runs in the eighth inning off of Nats’ reliever Drew Storen in top of the eighth inning to score all the runs on the game in Milwaukee’s 4-0 victory. Stephen Strasburg had a tough luck no-decision on that day, as his seven inning, three hit, eight strikeout performance went to waste.
Washington has had two or fewer hits in games at Nationals Park nine times, with the last time before today coming on April 27th of this season when Jeremy Hellickson and two relievers held the Nats to two base hits (a Daniel Murphy double and a single by Espinosa) in Philadelphia’s 3-0 win over the Nats.
Gio Gonzalez looks to win his fifth game of the year on Tuesday night, taking on Brewers youngster Zach Davies.
In his career at Nationals Park, Gonzalez is 28-18 with a sparkling 3.17 ERA. A pitcher-batter match-up to watch on Tuesday is Gonzalez against Brewers’ catcher Jonathan Lucroy. In 10 career at bats against the Nats’ lefty, Lucroy has six hits.
Davies threw well for the Brewers in June, finishing the month with a 3-1 record and a 2.89 ERA. Davies has held right handed batters to a .670 OPS on the year, but hasn’t fared as well against lefties who have put up a .834 OPS against him.