Stephen Strasburg’s dominant performance on Friday night led the Washington Nationals to a 3-1 victory over division rival New York at Citi Field as Washington expanded its lead in the NL East to four games.
After Thursday night’s slugfest in which the teams combined for 16 runs and eight home runs, Friday’s matchup of all-star pitchers Stephen Strasburg of Washington and Noah Syndergaard of New York promised a game of a different sort. While Syndergaard was not totally on his game and had to leave due to a “tired arm” in the fifth inning, Strasburg kept up his end of the bargain to pace Washington to perhaps its best win of 52 it has so far in the 2016 season.
Nationals’ Record- 52-36
WP- Strasburg (12-0) LP- Syndergaard (9-4) SV- Papelbon (18)
HR- Robinson, Was (5), Cabrera, NYM (12)
STARS OF THE GAME
Third Star- If one is looking for top performers for the Nationals in a game against the Mets, chances are that Daniel Murphy is going to be a viable candidate for that role. On Friday night Murphy was again in the center of the action, driving home Jayson Werth on a third innings double to pad Washington’s lead to 3-0. Murphy’s RBI was his 60th of the year, and he is on pace to shatter his career high of 78 RBI which he set in 2013 while playing for the Mets. Murphy was also big with the glove, snaring a rocket off of the bat of New York’s Juan Lagares to start a crucial double play to end the Mets’ eighth inning and keep Washington’s tenuous two run lead in place.
Second Star- Washington’s Clint Robinson’s story is one of perseverance, as the left-handed outfielder/first baseman toiled through many years in the Minors before getting a shot to play for the Nats last year. In 2016 Robinson is solidifying his place in the Majors, and his two run second inning home run off of Syndergaard was the big hit in last night’s contest. The home run was the third of Robinson’s career at Citi Field, and he is the only player in the Major Leagues with more than one home run against Syndegaard. When he has started a game, Robinson has posted an impressive .275/.348/.422 slash line over his time with the Nationals.
Star of the Game- Stephen Strasburg has been very good with flashes of brilliance during his Major League career, but 2016 appears to be the year when the former number one draft pick is putting everything together. Strasburg toyed with the Mets last night, allowing only two hits and one run in seven innings pitched to earn his 12th win in as many decisions on the year. The Nats’ righty is second among National League pitchers in WAR with 3.7 (Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers is first at 4.8), and he is now 6-1 with a 1.97 ERA in games at Citi Field.
Valiant in Defeat- On a day when the Mets lost Syndergaard and fellow All-Star Yoenis Cespedes to injury, an unlikely trio held the Mets in the game and gave the New Yorkers a fighting chance to pull out a win. Relievers Seth Lugo, Jerry Blevins and Erik Goeddel combined to hold the Nationals scoreless and hitless over the last 4.1 innings of the game, fanning five Nationals’ hitters in the process.
So far in 2016, Strasburg (11.14) and teammate Max Scherzer (11.56) have impressive SO/9 numbers. There have never been a pair of teammates to finish a season with 11.0 plus SO/9 totals. If Strasburg, Scherzer and Miami’s Jose Fernandez (whose 12.91 SO/9 number leads the Majors) hold on to finish above 11.0, they will be the first trio to do so since 1997 when Curt Schilling of Philadelphia (11.29), Pedro Martinez of Montreal (11.37) and Randy Johnson of Seattle (12.30) did so.
The key eighth inning double play turned by the Nats’ was their 85th of the season, the third highest total in the National League. The Nats have a .990 fielding percentage on the year, the best figure in the Major Leagues. They also have showed well in the defensive efficiency metric, posting a .700 number that is behind only the Cubs (.725) and Dodgers (.710) in the National League.
Max Scherzer takes the mound tonight for Washington, looking to continue his career success against the Mets. The Nats’ all-star is 4-3 with a 2.03 ERA, a .839 WHIP and 85 strikeouts in 62 innings pitched against New York. Wilmer Flores is 0 for 10 with seven strikeouts lifetime against Scherzer, while teammate Curtis Granderson has had some success going 8 for 27 (.296) with two home runs.
With Matt Harvey now on the shelf due to injury, New York will send Logan Verrett to the mound tonight. Verrett pitched fairly well in Washington last week despite picking up the loss, as he allowed only two runs and four hits in five innings pitched in the Nats’ 4-2 win. Verrett has struggled with the home run ball recently however, allowing six round trippers in his last 13 innings pitched.