Games 79 Through 81 Review- June Troubles Continue Despite Breakout Win

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Trea Turner celebrates one of seven Nats’ home runs hit on Friday in Washington’s 17-7 rout of the Phillies at Philadelphia.  Unfortunately for the Nats, the Phils have won the other two games played so far in the four game series at Citizens Bank Park,

Friday night was a glimpse of the vast potential of the Washington Nationals’ offense,  Thursday and Saturday were examples of the reality of a brutal month of June for the defending National League East champs.  Here’s a look at the first three games of Washington’s four game series with division rival Philadelphia.

 

GAME 79 REVIEW

Phillies 4  Nationals 3   (at Phl)

WP- Nola (10-2)    LP- Roark (3-9)   SV- Dominguez (6)

HR-  Hoskins, Phl (13, one on}

Nats’ Record- 41-38

STARS OF THE GAME

Third Star-  Young Domincan native Seranthony Dominguez has the potential to turn what has been a weakness for the Phils into a strength.  Pressed into closer duty due to ineffectiveness of the team’s other options, Dominguez has been mostly good for Gabe Kapler’s club.  On Thursday, he entered the game with one out and the tying run on secojnd, and proceeded to strike out Mark Reynolds and Wilmer Difo to end the game.

Second Star-  Aaron Nola has great command, excellent stuff and a tremendous mound presence.   All of those attributes were on display in this contest, as the 10 game winner held Washington to only 1 run in 7.2 innings pitched to earn the victory.  The outing was the second longest of the season for Nola, trailing only his eight innings pitched on April 10th v.s Cincinnati.  The soon-to-be All-Star has allowed two or fewer earned runs in 13 of his 17 starts on the season.

Star of the Game-  Outfielder Rhys Hoskins was 3 for 4 with a double and a key two run homer, continuing his solid play against Washington.

Strong in Defeat-  Trea Turner had two hits and scored two of Washington’s three runs on the game.

Nats Note-  Tanner Roark’s loss left him with a 3-9 record on the year for a .250 winning percentage.   Of all Nats’ pitchers with at least 10 decisions in a season, only three have had worse winning rates.  In 2008, Jason Bergmann won only two of his 11 starts for a .154 winning percentage.  Two years later, Jason Marquis had a 2-9 record/.182 rate.  In 2009, Garrett Mock’s .231 rate came courtesy of a 3-10 record.

GAME 80 REVIEW

Nationals 17 @ Phillies 7

WP- Fedde (1-3)   LP- Pivetta (4-7)

HR- Turner, Was (9, one on);  Soto, Was 2(8, one w/two on, one w/one on), Rendon, Was (10, two on),; Harper, Was (20, two on); Goodwin, Was (2, solo); Reynolds, Was (7, solo); Hoskins, Phl (14, one on); Kingery, Phl (4, solo); Santana, Phl (14, one one)

Nats’ Record (42-38)

STARS OF THE GAME

Third Star-  “Dynamic” is a word that is sometimes used to describe the skills of Nats’ shortstop Trea Turner.  Turner demonstrated his vast skills on Friday, going 3 for 5 with four runs scored, two driven in, a stolen base and his ninth homer of the season.

Second Star- Anthony Rendon went 3 for 6 with three runs scored, three driven in, a double and a three run home run in the top of the second that broke the game open.

Star of the Game- 19 year old sensation Juan Soto continues to play beyond his years, and he was sensational in this contest.  The sweet-swinging lefty had four hits including two home runs, and drove in a career high five runs in the Nats’ rout.  The two home run game was the second of Soto’s rookie season.

Strong in Defeat-  When Phils’ first baseman Carlos Santana squares up on a pitch, the ball usually travels a long, long way.  The burly veteran crushed a long two run homer off of Washington’s Tim Collins and also had another hit in the contest.

Nats Note-  The Nationals’ seven home runs tied a record for most in a game in 2018, tying them with the Dodgers who battered the Mets at Citi Field with seven round trippers earlier in the week.  The seven home run barrage fell one short of Washington’s team record of eight four base hits in a game, set last July 27th in a 15-2 thrashing of Milwaukee.

GAME 81 REVIEW

Phillies 3  Nationals 2  (at Phl)

WP- Arano (1-0)   LP- Hellickson (2-1)  SV- Dominguez (7)

HR-  Rendon, Was (11, solo);  Herrera, Phl (14, solo)

Nats’ Record-  42-39

STARS OF THE GAME

Third Stars- The often ridiculed Phillies’ bullpen crew was forced into action early for the second night in a row.  Unlike on Friday when the team’s relievers threw gasoline on an already burning fire the bullpen crew did the job on Saturday, holding Washington to a single run over the game’s seven final frames.  Particularly impressive was the job done by young reliever Yacksel Rios, who entered the game with the go ahead runs on base in the top of the eighth and retired Rendon, Soto and Mark Reynolds to end the threat.

Second Star-  Flashy Phils’ centerfielder Odubel Herrera has added a strong power stroke to his offensive game in 2018.  His solo home run in the third inning tied the game at 1-1, and gave him 14 homers on the season.  He’s only one short of his career high of 15 home runs for a season, set in 2016.

Stars of the Game-  With two out and nobody on in the Phils’ fourth, Jesmuel Valentin, Jorge Alfaro and pinch-hitter Aaron Althierr hit back to back to back doubles to give the Phils a 3-1 lead.

Strong in Defeat-  June 2018 will be a month to forget for the Nats, but third baseman Anthony Rendon certainly did his part to push the team ahead.  On Saturday,  the slight but athletic Rendon went 2 for 4 with a 471 foot home run that would have done ex-Phils beheamouths Greg Luzinski and Ryan Howard proud.  In June, Rendon hit five homers, drove in 18 runs and posted a sensational .937 OPS.

Nats Note-  The Nats’ loss was their 14th in 22 one run games on the year.  The undisputed bully of the NL East block in 2016 and 2017 also is struggling against divisional foes this year.  The Washington loss made the team 13-15 in intra-divisonal contests on the year.

ON DECK

Washington’s Gio Gonzalez takes the mound on Sunday against Philadelphia veteran Jake Arrieta in the final game of the series.

After allowingly only 15 earned runs in his first 11 starts of the year, Gonzalez has permitted 20 (in 22.1 innings pitched) over his last five.   The Washington lefty does sport a good record in his career at Citizens Bank Park, winning six of 10 decisions there while posting a 2.62 ERA.  In 21 career at bats against Gonzalez, Philadelphia’s Mikael Franco has only one hit (.048 average).   Aaron Althierr has also struggled against the Florida native, hitting a meager .111 with eight strikeouts in 18 career at bats.

Arrieta enters the game with a 5-6 mark, and also sports a 6.3 SO/9 rate that is the lowest of his career since his rookie campaign of 2010 when he went 6-6 for the Orioles. Mark Reynolds has eight hits in 20 career at bats (.400) against Arrieta, while Adam Eaton is only 1-9 (.111) against him.

 

 

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