Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals picked up right where they left off before the All-Star break, as the Nationals defeated Pittsburgh 5-1 to start the post-All Star break portion of the season with a big win.
Nationals 5 Pirates 1
Nationals’ Record 55-36
WP- Strasburg (13-0) LP- Liriano (5-9)
HR- Taylor, Was (7)
STARS OF THE GAME
Third Star- Michael A. Taylor’s home run to right-center off of Pirates’ hard-throwing reliever Neftali Feliz gave the Nats a four run lead and with Stephen Strasburg on the mound, the deficit probably seemed like 44 to Clint Hurdle and the Pirates. Taylor’s home run was his first since he hit two round trippers in a June 19th game at San Diego. Taylor now has three career home runs against the Pirates, more than he’s had against any teams other than the Phillies and Marlins (he also has three against each of those teams).
Second Star- Filling in for an injured Daniel Murphy, Clint Robinson had two hits and drove in a run out of the eight hole in Dusty Baker’s lineup to help Washington to victory. Robinson has 19 RBI in only 97 at bats on the year, making him the only player in the Majors with that many RBI and fewer than 107 at bats.
Star of the Game- As he’s been for most of the 2016 season, All-Star Stephen Strasburg was on his game last night as he earned his 13th win in as many decisions on the year. Strasburg allowed only three hits and one run in eight innings pitched, posting a pitching game score of 76 that was his second highest on the year (he had an 84 PGS on April 19th at Miami). Strasburg allowed one or fewer earned runs for the eighth time in 17 starts on the season, and for the 70th time in his 148 career starts.
Valiant in Defeat- Poor defense and perhaps some fatigue from pitching in hot conditions were his undoing in the Nats’ four run seventh inning, but Pittsburgh’s Francisco Liriano pitched well for most of his outing. The lefty retired the first nine Nationals he faced, and had allowed only one run and four hits through six innings before the rug was pulled out from under him in the seventh inning.
Reliever Shawn Kelley pitched the ninth inning for Washington, and recorded all three outs on strikeouts. It was the eighth time in Kelley’s career, and the second time as a National, where Kelley has pitched one inning and all of his outs were strikeouts. On the season, Kelley has 52 strikeouts in only 33.2 innings pitched. For pitchers with 30 or more innings pitched this season, Kelley’s 13.9 SO/9 rate trails only Dellin Betances of the Yankees (15.9), Betances’ teammate Andrew Miller 15.79) and Miami’s Kyle Barraclough (15.0).
Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates each stole a base in the game, making last night only the seventh time this season where a Nats’ opponent has stolen two or bases in a game. The Nats have allowed on 32 steals on the year, the fourth best mark in the National League. Arizona is first in that category with only 27 steals allowed, followed by San Francisco (29) and Miami (31).
The Nats’ win last night was their 10th in 14 games played on Fridays so far this season. The best day of the week so far for Washington is Wednesday, with the Nats’ posting a 11-3 record on that day. Washington is also 10-4 on Sundays.
The Nats look to earn a series win tonight with Tanner Roark taking on Pirates’ hard-thrower Gerrit Cole.
Roark has generally been very effective in his career after the All-Star break, posting a 14-8 record with a 2.77 ERA. He’s also excelled in his career at Nationals Park, going 16-10 with a 2.78 ERA.
Cole is 5-4 with a 2.77 ERA on the season, but there are some warning signs that point to potential problems for the Pirates’ ace. He’s allowed a 1.317 WHIP this year against a career mark of 1.168, and his SO/9 ratio of 7.2 is down from the numbers he put up over the past two seasons (in 2014 Cole’s SO/9 rate was 9.0, and he put up a 8.7 rate in 2015). One National who is glad to see Cole in town is outfielder Ben Revere. In 12 career at bats against Cole, Revere has seven hits.