After a series in Colorado where the Nats’ bullpen was used heavily, the team needed a long outing by starter Reynaldo Lopez on Thursday in Atlanta. The rookie came through in a big way, striking out 11 and giving up only one earned run in seven innings pitched as the Nats beat the Braves 8-2.
Nats’ Record- 71-49
Nationals 8 Braves 2
WP- Lopez (2-1) LP- Whalen (1-2)
STARS OF THE GAME
Third Star- He did not hit a majestic 461 foot home run as he did on Wednesday in Colorado, but Bryce Harper contributed to the Nats’ cause with a hit, two walks and two runs scored in the victory. Harper’s OPS on the year now stands at .386, and he’s reached base at a .399 clip in 153 career plate appearances at Turner Field.
Second Star- Playing more like his age is the number on the back of his jersey instead of the one on his driver’s license, Jayson Werth was again in the middle of good things for the Nats on Thursday. Werth was two for four with a double, a run scored and a RBI as he reached base for the franchise tying 46th consecutive game.
Star of the Game- While the Braves current lineup certainly doesn’t conjure up images of the 1927 Yankees or the Cincinnati Reds’ Big Red Machine, the type of domination Nats’ rookie Reynaldo Lopez displayed on Thursday is impressive against any opponent. Lopez struck out 11 Braves and allowed only a single earned run in seven innings pitched to earn his second win in as many starts against the Braves.
Valiant in Defeat- Atlanta starter Rob Whalen deserved a better fate last night. Whalen allowed only one earned run in six effective innings pitched, but was undone by his defense and by his teammates’ lack of production against Nats’ starter Lopez. Whalen’s record on the year fell to 1-2 despite his impressive performance.
It would be hard to find an uglier half of an inning at any place other than a Little League field than the one the Braves had in the top of the eighth last night. The Nats scored five runs, with only one coming home on a hit (Clint Robinson’s RBI single). The others scored on a passed ball, a walk, a hit batter and Trea Turner’s sacrifice fly as Braves’ fans witnessed why their team resides in last place in the National League East.
The Nats walked seven times in the game, marking the eighth time this year they’ve had seven or more free passes. Prior to last evening, the last time Washington had as many as seven walks came on June 30th at Nationals Park when the Nats were walked seven times in a 13-4 rout of the Reds. The season high for bases on balls for Washington is the 11 walks they received on May 18th in a 7-1 win at New York against the Mets.
Rookie catcher Pedro Severino is likely headed back to Syracuse today as backup catcher Jose Lobaton is primed to return from the disabled list, but the 23 year old rookie can take solace in the fact that he looked like he belonged during his short stint with the big club. Severino had a double and run scored last night, and hit a robust .412 in 17 at bats during his time filling in for Lobaton.
Tanner Roark takes the mound tonight at Turner Field against the Braves’ Julio Teheran in the second contest of the four game series.
Roark, who is 1-1 with a 2.78 ERA in six appearances at Turner Field, is looking for his 14th win in tonight’s game. His win in Atlanta was a memorable one for the Nats and their fans. On September 16, 2014, Roark held the Braves scorless over seven innings to lead Washington to a 3-0 NL East Division clinching victory over the Braves.
Roark’s opponent on the night gets this year’s vote for the hard luck player of the year. Despite having a sparking 2.81 ERA and a microscopic .965 WHIP this year, Julio Teheran has lost nine of his 12 decisions in 2016. Teheran, who has allowed three or fewer earned runs in 17 of his 21 starts on the year, may want to be especially careful when facing the Nats’ three and four hitters tonight. Daniel Murphy is 8 for 20 with four doubles in his career against the Braves’ righty, while Bryce Harper has hit .429 in 28 at bats with five home runs and 10 RBI.
Tanner Roark throws a pitch during his masterful performance in today’s 9-1 Nats’ win over Atlanta at Nationals Park.
Nats’ Record- 69-47
Nationals 9 Braves 1
WP- Roark (13-6) LP- Jenkins (2-3)
HR- Rendon, Was (15), Heisey, Was (6)
STARS OF THE GAME
Third Star- We are going with the trio of Trea Turner, Ben Revere and Bryce Harper who were at the top of the Nationals’ order on Sunday, and combined to score seven runs with four hits, two doubles and a RBI. Key to the Nats’ win was a three run first inning rally in which all of the top men in the order participated. Turner led of the game with a two bagger, and scored when Revere bunted for a hit and Atlanta’s Anthony Recker threw wildly to first to try to record an out. Harper followed with a double to left to score Revere, and Washington had jumped out to a 3-0 lead before Atlanta’s starter Tyrell Jenkins got into the flow of the game.
Second Star- The 2016 version of Nats’ third baseman Anthony Rendon is looking more like the 2014 version of a player many felt was one of the league’s best hitters. Rendon homered and hit a sacrifice fly to drive in four runs in the game, and his three run homer in the bottom of the fifth off of Jenkins broke the game open.
Star of the Game- Gutty, gritty and talented are adjectives that can be used to describe Nats’ starter Tanner Roark, and you might want to throw “underrated” into the mix as well. Roark won his 13th game on a day suited more for sitting in a hammock and drinking lemonade than recording seven innings of superb pitching as Roark did. The Nats’ hurler registered his ninth game in 12 starts at home where he’s thrown at least seven innings, and moved his record to 10-3 in games since May 20th.
Valiant in Defeat- Nats’ leadoff man Turner wasn’t the only top of the order player who played well on Sunday. Atlanta’s Ender Inciarte went 2 for 4 with a double (the only extra base hit on the day for the visitors) and scored the Braves’ only run of the game.
The Nats scored nine or more runs for the 14th time this season. They’re not five games short of the team record 19 set in 2012 by the 98 game winning NL East Champion team. The only other Nats’ teams with more than the 2016 team’s mark to date were the 2006 squad that had 18 nine plus run games, the 2015 team with 17, the 2008 team with 16 and the 2013 squad with 15.
Washington turned three double plays behind the fast working, strike throwing Roark on Sunday, marking the sixth time this season that the Nats have recorded three or more ground ball double plays in a game. The last time Washington had six or more games where they recorded at least three ground ball double plays was in 2012, when the Nats did the trick in eight games.
Wilson Ramos had two RBI in the game, leaving him three shy of his career mark of 68 set last year.
Since 2014 in games played at Nationals Park, the Nats hold a 21-6 record against the Braves. Washington has held Atlanta to three or fewer runs in 17 of the 27 games played.
A trip to Colorado is usually one highly anticipated by a visiting teams hitters, but dreaded by its pitchers. The Nats open a three game set against the Rockies on Monday night, with Max Scherzer taking on Jorge De La Rosa.
Scherzer, who leads the National League in strikeouts with 208, will be taking on a free swinging Colorado squad whose 958 strikeouts on the year is the sixth highest total in the National League. Colorado’s Carlos Gonzalez is 3 for 10 with three homers in his career against Scherzer.
Colorado’s De La Rosa has won five of his seven career decisions against the Nats. In 60.2 innings pitched against Washington, he’s allowed only two home runs.
One National who has to be frustrated that he will be missing the trip to Coors Field is Ryan Zimmerman. In 131 career at bats at the Rockies’ home, Zimmerman has hit 12 doubles, eight homers, driven in 38 runs and posted a 1.090 OPS.
Gio Gonzalez was dominant last night, holding the San Francisco Giants to two hits and one run to lead Washington to a 5-1 victory in the first game of a three game set between division leaders.
Nationals 5 Giants 1
Nats’ Record: 65-44
WP- Gonzalez (7-9) LP- Samardzija (9-8)
HR- Turner, Was (2), Ramos, Was (17), Pagan, SF (8)
STARS OF THE GAME
Third Star– Wilson Ramos certainly picked a good time to have a career year. The soon to be free agent continued to prove that he’s in line for a big payday at some point soon, hitting his career high 17th home run and plating a run on a sacrifice fly to help the Nats to victory. Ramos’ two RBI game left him only seven short of his career high 68 RBI, set in the 2015 season.
Second Star- For months prior to the 2016 Major League trade deadline, we’d been reading and hearing that Trea Turner was not available for a deal. We’re now seeing why that was the case. The rising star went 2 for 4 with a double, a home run and two runs scored as he continued to show that the Nats’ problem at the top of the batting order may be solved. On the season, Turner has posted an impressive .896 OPS in his 81 at bats.
Star of the Game- Gio Gonzalez was at the top of his game on Friday night, holding the Giants to two hits and one run in seven excellent innings pitched. Gonzalez worked fast, was efficient and showed the form he displayed in his 21 win season in 2012. In picking up his seventh win on the year Gonzalez posted a 75 pitching game score, the best PGS he’s had since an 85 score he earned in a 3-0 victory over the New York Mets at Nationals Park on September 25, 2014.
Valiant in Defeat- It was another forgettable night for the slumping Giants, but Angel Pagan provided some highlights with a laser shot home run to left field (his eighth of the season) and several fine plays in left field.
Bryce Harper and Ramos had sacrifice flies in the game, giving Washington 46 on the season. With 53 games left to play, the Nats are only five short of the Nats’ record 51 run scoring fly balls that was set in 2015. Harper is the team leader in sacrifice flies this season with eight, with Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth, Daniel Murphy and Clint Robinson next with five each.
Denard Span was 1 for 4 for San Francisco in his return to Nationals Park, and it was nice to see the talented and likeable center fielder get a warm reception from the Nationals’ faithful. Span Span now as 11 hits in his last 28 at bats since July 29th.
Stephen Strasburg has been money in the bank for the Nats so far in 2016, and he looks to continue his winning ways as he takes on San Francisco’s Matt Cain in the second game of the series tonight at Nationals Park.
Strasburg has pitched well in August over his career, posting a 13-4 record with a 3.04 ERA. In his career against the Giants, he’s 3-1 with a 2.79 ERA. The Giants’ talented duo of Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford have hit Strasburg well over their careers. Posey is 7 for 20 with two doubles, while Crawford has six hits in 16 at bats.
Cain won the 100th game of his career last Sunday against the Nationals, gutting out a five inning start in which he did not allow a hit or a run while walking four batters. He’s 2-2 with a 4.11 ERA in his career at Nationals Park, with 37 hits allowed (including four homers) in 30 innings pitched.
Bryce Harper’s mammoth two run home run off of Los Angeles’ Bud Norris on Wednesday July 20th helped Washington to an 8-1 victory over the Dodgers.
The weather in Washington is heating up, while its baseball team is going through a bit of a relatively, albeit with a limited sample size, cold spell. The Nats have dropped three of their last four games, including two of three to the Los Angeles Dodgers, as they head into this weekend’s series with San Diego. Despite the mini-slide, Washington still is holding down a 4.5 game lead in the National League East with an impressive 57-39 record.
Here’s some notes of interest from the past four games, with thanks to baseball-reference.com’s Play Index and the ESPN Home Run Tracker (two sites a baseball fan can’t live without) for the information.
LET’S PLAY TWO…..BUT IT ONLY COUNTS AS ONE
Sunday’s Nats’ 2-1 loss in 18 innings to Pittsburgh was the longest game by innings played in team history. The previous high was 16 innings, set on June 24, 2014 in a Nats’ 4-2 win over Milwaukee at Miller Park and equaled earlier this year in Washington’s thrilling 6-5 win over Minnesota. With the loss, the Nats are 4-4 this season in extra-inning games. Washington is 87-90 in games that have gone long, with a 46-44 mark in such games played at home.
A RARE EVENT FOR AN OPENING ACT
Highly touted youngster Reynaldo Lopez made his Major League debut on Tuesday against the Dodgers and was hit hard, allowing six runs and 10 hits in 4.2 innings pitched. Still there were bright spots for the hard-throwing righty, including his striking out nine Dodger batters. According to the Baseball Reference play index, Lopez is the first pitcher from 1913 until today who had nine plus strikeouts, 10 plus hits allowed and six plus runs allowed in his Major League debut. Two other pitchers have achieved the dubious feat so far in 2016. The Yankees’ Michael Pineda gave up seven runs with ten hits allowed while striking out nine in New York’s 8-1 loss to Tampa on April 24th, while former National Jordan Zimmermann gave up eight runs and 11 hits while fanning nine in seven innings pitched on May 16th in a 10-8 Tigers’ win over Minnesota.
On July 20, 1969, United States’ astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. 47 years later at Nationals Park, Bryce Harper hit a ball that looked to be headed for a lunar landing.
Harper’s first innings blast off of the Dodgers’ Bud Norris was the longest home run hit at Nationals Park so far this year, measuring 449 feet according to the ESPN HR tracker. Four of the five longest homers hit at the Nats’ home this year have come this month:
BATTER DATE DISTANCE
Harper, Was July 20 449
Ramos, Was April 14 445
Harper, Was July 3 441
Rendon, Was July 20 440
Maldonado, Mil July 4 438
The Nats had four home runs in their 8-1 win on the 20th, marking the 53rd time Washington has hit four or more round-trippers in a game. The team has seven four plus homer games in 2016, the second highest single season total for Washington since 2005. The 2013 squad had 11 four plus homer games.
RANDY NEWMAN, YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY ONE
Singer/songwriter Randy Newman made the song “I Love LA” a hit, and Washington starter Gio Gonzalez may well have been humming a few bars of the tune following another strong performance against the team from Tinseltown on Wednesday. Gonzalez allowed only one run and three hits in six strong innings pitched to earn his third win in four career decisions against the Dodgers. Gonzalez has fanned 34 Dodgers in 32 innings pitched against them in his career, while posting a sparking 1.69 ERA.
AS EASY AS ONE, TWO, THREE
Nats’ rookie Trea Turner tripled twice in the Dodgers’ series, using his top-level speed to navigate around the bases seemingly with ease. Turner’s three baggers in back to back nights on Tuesday and Wednesday marked the fifth time a Nats’ player has had triples in back to back games:
PLAYER DATES OPPONENT
Trea Turner 7/19-20, 2016 LAD
Dan Uggla 4/27-2/28, 2015 @ ATL
Rick Ankiel 5/25-5/26, 2012 @ ATL
Roger Bernadina 5/22-5/23, 2010 BAL
Christian Guzman 5/13-5/14, 2007 Fl (5/13), ATL (5/14)
STRIKEOUTS TIMES TEN
Thursday’s 6-3 loss to the Dodgers marked Stephen Strasburg’s first loss of the year, but the All-Star ace did strike out 10 batters (including eight of 10 at one point) in the contest. Strasburg now has 29 10 plus strikeout games in his career, including eight so far in 2016. The Nats have 77 10 plus strikeout pitching performances since 2005, with Max Scherzer (18) and Gonzalez (10) next in line behind Strasburg’s total.
The Nationals look to get back to their winning ways tonight against San Diego at Nationals Park, with Tanner Roark facing the Padres’ Luis Perdomo.
The two finest games of Roark’s career, at least as indicated by the Pitching Game Score statistic, came against the Padres in 2014. On April 26th, Roark threw a complete game three hit shutout in a 4-0 Washington win with the Nats’ righty posting an 88 PGS. On June 6th at San Diego, Roark put up an 87 PGS as he allowed three hits in eight innings pitched while striking out 11 in Washington’s 6-0 win.
Perdomo has struggled mightily so far in 2016, as he’s put up a 7.36 ERA with a ghastly 1.952 WHIP in 69.2 innings pitched. Only Baltimore’s Ubaldo Jiminez (with a 1.971 mark) has a worse WHIP for Major League pitchers with more than 69 innings pitched this year.
The match-up features teams who bring power bats to the plate. The Nats are tied with St. Louis for the most home runs in the National League with 132, while San Diego’s 112 four baggers ranks sixth in the league. Matt Kemp and Wil Myers lead the Pads with 20 homers each, while Melvin Upton has 16. The older Upton brother has resurrected his career while playing in San Diego after struggling mightily in Atlanta. From 2013 through 2014 while a Brave, Upton posted a -2.1 WAR total. For San Diego in 2015 and 2016 to date, Upton’s combined WAR is 3.6.
In the second half of the 2015 season, Daniel Murphy could do no wrong in the eyes of the Citi Field faithful. Now that he’s wearing a Nationals’ uniform in 2016, Murphy has become the chief tormentor of the Mets and their loyal fans. Murphy had three hits and four RBI on Saturday night to pace Washington to a 6-1 victory over the Mets that expanded the Nats’ lead in the National League to five games.
Nationals’ Record- 53-36
Nationals 6 Mets 1
WP- Scherzer (10-6) LP- Verrett (3-6)
HR- Murphy, Was (16)
STARS OF THE GAME
Third Star- Jayson Werth was 0-3 on the game and made a rare error in the bottom of the first inning, but he gets the third star of the game designation because of his batting eye. Werth worked two walks in the game and ended up scoring two runs, both on hits by Daniel Murphy. Werth’s OBP for the year is now at a season high .343 as he continues to reach base in front of the Nats’ strong middle of the order hitters.
Second Star- After working through a rough first inning in which he held the Mets to one run when it looked as though the home team would put up a crooked number, Max Scherzer was masterful. The Nats’ righty allowed only three hits and struck out nine in seven innings pitched to move to 10-6 on the year. Scherzer now leads the National League in strikeouts with 162.
Star of the Game- Daniel Murphy laid the wood to his former team again, going 3-4 with a double, a home run and a season high four RBI to pace Washington’s attack. On the year, Murphy is hitting .438 with three doubles, six homers and 19 RBI against the Mets. Since 1990, only Ryne Sandberg (22 in 1990) and Ryan Howard (21 in 2006) have more RBI in a season against the Mets. Sadly for Mets fans, Murphy has seven more games to add to his total. The all-time leader for RBI in a year against the Mets is Hank Aaron, who drove in 28 runs against New York in 1962.
Valiant in Defeat- Alejandro De Aza has had a rough start to the 2016 season and has endured the rath of the Mets’ faithful because of it, but he had a solid game on Saturday night. Playing in place of the injured Yoenis Cespedes, De Aza went 2 for 3 and reached base on a walk.
Scherzer’s win made him a double digit game winner for the seventh season in a row. He did not allow a home run, making the start his fifth out of 19 on the season where he has not given up a round-tripper.
Murphy now has 12 four plus RBI games on his career, with the last prior to Saturday night coming on September 13, 2015 when he drove in four in the Mets’ 10-7 win at Atlanta. Murphy’s career high for RBI in a game is five, a mark he’s reached three times. His 19 RBI on the year against New York is the second most runs batted in against an opponent in a season in Nationals’ history, trailing only Ryan Zimmerman’s 22 against Philadelphia in the 2006 season.
Ben Revere tripled in Scherzer in the third inning with Washington’s go-ahead run. The three bagger was the fifth on the season for Revere, making him the 17th player in Nationals’ history with five or more triples. The Nats’ best mark for triples in a season is 11, set by Denard Span in 2013.
With two stolen bases last night, Bryce Harper posted the fifth game of his career with two stolen bases. He now has 12 on the year, only six away from his career high of 18 set in 2012.
The season’s pre-All Star game schedule ends today with a match-up of lefthanders Gio Gonzalez and Steven Matz.
Gonzalez has fared extremely well at Citi Field in his career, going 7-1 with a sparkling 1.53 ERA. Curtis Granderson (.143 in 35 at bats) and Wilmer Flores (2-15 with four strikeouts) have struggled against Gonzalez, while Jose Reyes has four hits in 10 career at bats against him.
Matz has allowed three or fewer earned runs in 12 of his 15 starts in 2016, with his best game coming back on May 25th when he threw eight innings of four hit, shutout ball against Washington in a Mets’ win.
A victory in today’s game will give the 2016 Nationals a .600 winning percentage at the All-Star break, which would be the best in Nationals’ history. In 2005 the Nats entered the break with a .591 percentage, a mark that was almost equaled by the 2012 team that put up a .590 pre-break winning percentage.
Citi Field’s favorite son Wilmer Flores acknowledges the Mets’ faithful following his clutch three run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning last evening that led the New Yorkers to a 9-7 victory over division rival Washington.
There are many ups and downs during the course of a long Major League Baseball season, and it is the successful team that is able to push on from a crushing defeat to get back on the winning track. The Nationals will have that opportunity today following last night’s difficult 9-7 loss to the New York Mets which cut the Nats’ lead in the National League East to three games.
Nationals Record- 51-36
WP- Robles (3-3) LP- O. Perez (2-2) SV- Familia (31
HR- Harper, Was (19), Robinson, Was (4), Rendon, Was (9), d’Arnaud, NYM (2), Reyes, NYM (1), Flores, NYM (8), Cabrera, NYM, (11), Murphy, Was (15)
STARS OF THE GAME
Third Star- Mets’ set-up man Addison Reed was a rare commodity in last evening’s slugfest, namely a pitcher who did his job effectively. Reed retired all four batters he faced, including a strikeout of Washington’s dangerous Anthony Rendon with the potential tying run on second base in the top of the seventh inning. In his last six outings, Reed has allowed only two hits with no runs and 13 strikeouts in seven innings pitched.
Second Star- Asdrubal Cabrera was a nice trade deadline acquisition for the Nationals in 2014, and the switch-hitting infielder did a good job for the Nationals in their run to Washington’s second National League East championship. Cabrera is now toiling for Washington’s chief rival and on Thursday night, he was a key factor in the Mets’ win. First, Cabrera hit his 11th home run of the year in the bottom of the sixth to give the Mets a two run lead. Later in the top of the ninth with Jayson Werth on first and Daniel Murphy at the plate, Cabrera made a tremendous diving stop of a Murphy laser shot that eventually became a double play after the umpires ruled that Werth’s take-out slide at second base was illegal.
Star of the Game- New Yorkers seem to love their reputation as being hard-nosed, no quarters given/none taken kind of people, but they have a soft spot in their hearts for one of their own. Wilmer Flores has achieved “favorite son” status in New York, and he gave his fans another reason to love him last night as his dramatic three run home run off of former Met Oliver Perez gave the Mets a lead they’d never lose in the exciting divisional contest. In his last 10 games, Flores is hitting .385 with five home runs and 10 RBI in 25 at bats.
Valiant in Defeat- Daniel Murphy continues to torment his old team, going 2 for 4 with a long home run (his career high 15th on the year) and even hitting rockets when he was retired. Against the Mets this year, the sweet-swinging second baseman has hit .425 in 40 at bats with a double, five home runs and 14 RBI. Murphy has had multiple hits in seven of his ten games against New York.
Last night marked the 152nd time the Nationals have had at least three home runs in a game. Washington is 121-31 in those games. The Nationals have 17 games in 2016 with at least three home runs this year, and seem primed to easily break the team record of 25 such games in the 2012 season. The Nats have 22 three home run plus games against the Mets since 2005, and have won 19 of those contests.
Oliver Perez had a tough game on the mound last night as he struggled through 1.1 innings pitched and took the loss, but the former Met had a surprisingly good game at the plate. Perez went 2 for 2 with a double and a run scored, making him the first relief pitcher to have two hits in a game since Colorado’s Esmil Rogers went 2 for 3 in the Rockies 10-6 win over San Diego on July 30, 2011. The double was Perez’s second of his career, and his first since July 19, 2008.
When Bryce Harper comes to the plate at Citi Field, boos reign down from the always hospitable New York fans. On many occasions, including last evening, Harper has been able to silence the crowd with one swing of the bat. Harper drilled a mammoth 431 foot home run to center field in the Nationals’ three run fourth inning last night, marking the sixth time (out of eight career home runs in New York) he’s hit a 400 feet plus home run at Citi Field. In terms of distance, last night’s blast trails only a 433 foot bomb Harper hit off of the Mets’ Josh Edgin on April 20, 2013.
All-stars Stephen Strasburg and Noah Syndergaard go up against each other in tonight’s second game of the four game set. In his career at Citi Field, Strasburg is 5-1 with a 2.08 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 37 innings pitched. Syndergaard has allowed more than three runs in only two of his 16 starts on the year, including a season high five runs allowed in a June 27th loss to Washington at Nationals Park.
Red-hot Danny Espinosa celebrates his fourth inning grand slam home run with his teammates in yesterday’s 12-1 Nats’ win over the Cincinnati Reds.
The fireworks show on the National Mall today will have to be a great one to match the show that the home team’s bats put on yesterday afternoon at Nationals Park against the Cincinnati Reds. The Nats slugged six home runs on the way to a 12-1 rout of the Reds, as the Nats maintained their five game lead in the National League East.
Nationals’ Record- 50-33
Nationals 12 Reds 1
WP- Strasburg (11-0) LP- Lamb (1-5)
HR- Espinosa, Was 2(18), Ramos, Was (13), Harper, Was (17), Rendon, Was (8), Drew, Was (7)
STARS OF THE GAME
Third Star- If Nats’ catcher Wilson Ramos is not an all-star in 2016, no one is. The powerful catcher got Washington’s offense moving yesterday with a second inning laser shot of a home run off of the Reds’ John Lamb that staked the Nats to a 1-0 lead. Ramos was 3-4 on the day with two RBI, and improved his OPS while hitting in the fifth spot in the Washington lineup to 1.010.
Second Star- Those of us who made it to the ballpark early yesterday saw an unusual sight about 30 minutes before game time as both Stephen Strasburg and Lucas Giolito headed to the right field corner to begin preparations for the game. Giolito was there as a precautionary move in case Strasburg’s upper back injury flared up and prevented him from taking the scheduled start but fortunately for the Nats, their ace was able to take the hill. All Strasburg did was hold the Reds hitless over 6.2 innings pitched as he earned his 11th win in as many decision on the year. Only four pitchers since 1969 have posted longer consecutive win streaks to start a season:
Consecutive Decisions With Wins to Start a Season Since 1969
Pitcher # of Wins Ending Record Notes
McNally (Bal) 15 20-7
Clemens (Bos) 14 24-4 Won AL Cy Young & MVP
Scherzer (Det) 13 21-3 Won AL Cy Young
Guidry (NYY) 13 25-3 Won AL Cy Young
Star of the Game- Nationals’ shortstop Danny Espinosa had a series to remember against the Reds over the past four days, hitting five home runs, driving in an amazing 15 runs and scoring six times to pace the Nats’ to three wins in the four game series. In yesterday’s game, Espinosa hit his second grand slam homer in the series, giving him three career home runs at Nationals Park (tying Ryan Zimmerman for the most home runs by a player at Nationals Park). Espinosa also made one of the best defensive plays of the year, ranging far to his right and making an incredible throw to retire speedy Reds’ outfielder Jose Peraza in the sixth inning to keep the visitors hitless. Espinosa’s five home run series moved him past teammate Jayson Werth into fourth place for most career home runs at Nationals Park:
Career Home Runs at Nationals Park
Valiant in Defeat- On a day where very little went right for the Reds, Peraza was responsible for the team’s only run as his eighth inning single off of Nats’ reliever Matt Belisle drove home Ramon Cabrera with Cincinnati’s only run.
Espinosa is not the only National who is thriving at the plate over the past week. Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon homered in the game, and both continued upward trends in Washington’s current homestand. Harper has 9 hits in 23 at bats (.391) with a double, two homers and five RBI since Monday, with Rendon checking in at 7-21 (.333) with seven runs scored, a triple, a homer and five RBI. The Nats’ third baseman has scored 52 runs on the year, tying him for the eighth most in the National League.
Washington bench player Stephen Drew doesn’t get many at bats, but he certainly makes them count. Drew hit his seventh home run of the year yesterday on a drive to left center field off of the Reds’ Jumbo Diaz in the eighth inning. Drew has his seven round trippers in only 81 at bats on the year. Among players with at least seven home runs, Drew has accomplished that feat with the fewest at bats. Kansas City’s Mike Moustakas is next with seven home runs in 104 at bats.
The Nats take on the Milwaukee Brewers in the traditional Fourth of July 11am start with Max Scherzer facing the Brew Crew’s Junior Guerra. Scherzer has posted an 11.6 SO/9 ratio on the year. Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun is 0 for 10 with five strikeouts and fellow slugger Chris Carter is 1 for 11 with seven strikeouts against Max.
Milwaukee’s Guerra is not particularly well known, but he’s pitched very well of late. In his last nine starts, he has allowed three or fewer earned runs eight times. He is coming off the best game of career on June 29th when he posted a game score of 83 against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The righty is 5-1 with a 3.25 ERA and an impressive 1.069 WHIP on the season.
Jayson Werth acknowledges the crowd at Nationals Park after his pinch-hit grand slam home run on Sunday broke open a game the Nats would win over St. Louis by a 10-2 score.
Winning only three of seven games in a week is not ideal by any means, but the Nats were able to hold their own for the most part against fellow National League playoff caliber teams and they head into Memorial Day with more wins (30) than all but two Major League teams (the Cubs have 34 and the Giants have 32). Here’s a look at some of the highlights and low points from the past seven games.
NINE IS FINE FOR NATS’ ACE
Two of the team’s three wins in the week came courtesy of solid starts by Stephen Strasburg, who beat the Mets on Tuesday and came back and took care of the Cardinals on Sunday. Strasburg is 9-0 on the year with a 2.69 ERA and has an impressive 1.089 WHIP so far. The Nats’ power pitcher struck out only four Cardinals’ in Sunday’s win, marking only the sixth time in 18 decisions where he’s picked up a win while fanning four or fewer. In 111 career starts where he’s struck out five or more batters, Strasburg has posted an impressive 57-25 record.
His two wins gave him 13 career victories in the month of May, the most he’s posted in a month in his career. Strasburg has 12 career victories in August, and 11 in both April and June. Sunday’s effort improved Strasburg’s record in day games to 28-14, and moved his career mark at Nationals Park to 31-17 with a 2.73 ERA.
MAKING IT COUNT IN A PINCH
Veteran Jayson Werth was scheduled for an off day on Sunday, but entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning. He made his one at bat on the day count in a big way, driving a Dean Kiekhefer pitch way over the wall in center field for a grand slam that broke open a close contest.
The pinch-hit homer was the seventh of the year for the Nats, moving them within one of the Washington record eight pinch-hit round trippers that were hit by the 2006 squad. The four run pinch-hit blast was the second in Nationals’ history. Former National Justin Maxwell hit a grand slam back in September 2007 against Florida.
Werth’s slam was his third as a National. Only Ryan Zimmerman (5) and former National Michael Morse (4) have more. Besides Zimmerman and Werth, current Nats with grand slams while wearing the Curly W are Bryce Harper and Wilson Ramos with two each, and Danny Espinosa and Michael A. Taylor with one a piece. Washington has 43 grand slams since the team’s move to Washington in 2005, and Werth’s blast was the 18th grand slam hit by a Washington player at Nationals Park.
A BLAST BY BRYCE
Nats’ star Bryce Harper hit is 12th and 13th home runs of the year during the Cardinals’ series, and number 12 was one to remember.
The 437 foot blast to right field off of Cards’ starter Mike Leake evened the score on Thursday night at 1-1 in a game Washington would win over the Cards by a 2-1 score. According to ESPN’s Home Run tracker, the round tripper tied for the sixth longest Harper has hit at Nationals Park:
Longest Home Runs at Nationals Park by Bryce Harper
Distance Date Pitcher
453 feet 9/4/15 Julio Teheran
452 feet 4/18/15 Aaron Harang
444 feet 9/8/13 Mark Buehrle
441 feet 5/6/15 Tom Koehler
438 feet 7/18/15 Kenley Jansen
437 feet 8/6/13 Julio Teheran
437 feet 5/26/15 Mike Leake
AN ODD OUTING INDEED
Friday’s Nats’ loss to St. Louis was all but sealed when the Cards scored five runs in the third inning against Nats’ starter Max Scherzer. The game marked the 24th time in Scherzer’s career as a starter where he’s pitched at least seven innings and surrendered three or fewer hits. Scherzer is 21-1 in those contests. Friday’s game marked the second time this season that Scherzer has walked four batters in a game, and he’s 0-2 in those contests. The Nats’ righthander did not walk more than three batters in any game during the 2015 season.
HOT HITTING IN A HOT WEEK
Especially in the latter part of the week, the weather felt more like a typical summer climate than it did like one would experience in spring. Several Nats’ hitters were as hot as the weather during the week.
In Saturday’s loss to St. Louis, Ryan Zimmerman went 4 for 4 with two home runs. The multi-homer game was Zimmerman’s second on the year, and the 16th in his career. The veteran National has three two home run games against St. Louis in his career, the most multi-homer games he’s had against any opponent. Zimmerman’s four hits marked the 11th time he’s done that in his career. Before Saturday, the last time Zimmerman achieved the feat was on 7/5/2014 when he went 4 for 4 with a pair of doubles in the Nats’ 13-0 rout of the Cubs.
Daniel Murphy was New York’s favorite son during the Mets’ playoff run in 2015, but New Yorkers (particularly fans of the Mets) could be forgiven if they’re not particularly fond of the Nats’ second basemen these days. Murphy had two hits in each of the three games against the Mets on the week, giving him 10 hits in 23 at bats in 2016 against his former teammates. Murphy hit his second home run of the season off of struggling New York starter Matt Harvey on Tuesday. Only former National Jordan Zimmerman (with four) has given up more home runs to Murphy in his career.
Wilson Ramos came up big on Sunday, continuing a hot spell in May. The Nats’ catcher went 3 for 3 with a home run and four RBI, marking the eighth time he’s driven in at least four runs in a game. Ramos’ career high for RBI is five, set on three different occasions during the 2013 season. So far in May, Ramos has posted a .967 OPS with four home runs and 17 RBI.
Thursday’s winning pitcher for the Nats was Joe Ross, who allowed only one run and struck out four in seven innings of solid work. The win evened Ross’ record on the year to 4-4 and lowered his ERA to an impressive 2.52. The game marked a nice bounce back effort for the young righty, who had allowed 10 runs in 11.2 innings pitched in his previous two starts at home.
The Nats will spend Memorial Day in the City of Brotherly Love, as Tanner Roark takes on Jeremy Hellickson this evening. Those keeping score at the game might want to have extra ink available, as neither pitcher has fared well at Citizens Bank Park. Roark is 1-4 wit a 8.27 ERA at CBP, while Hellickson’s 2016 campaign his shown that he’s generally more effective on the road (.347 ERA, 1.101 WHIP) than he’s been at home (4.87 ERA, 1.475).
The fans of the Phillies are generally not the most hospitable bunch, but Bryce Harper could be forgiven if he considers a trip to Ben Franklin’s home town as enjoyable as a young child’s visit to the Magic Kingdom. Harper has a lifetime 1.077 OPS and 11 home runs in 130 plate appearances at Citizens Bank Park.
If Roark is to have success this evening, he’s probably going to have to control two young Phillies’ outfielders who have had success so far in the month of May. Speedy leadoff man Odubel Herrera is hitting .327 with eight RBI, while Rule 5 pickup Tyler Goeddel has hit at a .313 clip two home runs on the month.
Nationals Record 22-13
WP- Treinen (3-1) LP- Barraclough (2-1) SV- Papelbon (10)
HR- Drew (2), Harper (11), Heisey (4)
STARS OF THE GAME
Third Star- Jose Lobaton
The Nats’ backup catcher may be hitting only .194 on the year, but he did a great job for Washington in the eighth spot in the lineup last night. Lobaton went 1-2 with a run scored and walked twice. His sixth inning two out looping single to left field kept the inning alive, which allowed Stephen Drew to come to the plate and hit a game tying two run home run off of Miami’s Bryan Morris.
Second Star- Dusty Baker
The Nats’ affable skipper pushed the right buttons on Friday night. He used his bullpen masterfully in the sixth to squelch a Marlins rally, getting key contributions from veterans Yusmeiro Petit and Oliver Perez to keep Miami from scoring even after the visitors had loaded the bases with no outs being recorded by tough-luck starter Gio Gonzalez.
Later, Baker’s choices of Drew to pinch-hit in the sixth inning and Chris Heisey to do so in the eighth resulted in the fifth and sixth pinch-hit home runs on the year for the Nationals.
Star of the Game- Bryce Harper
“Miami” Bryce did it again, going 2-2 with two walks and a go ahead two run home run in the seventh inning that led the Nationals to victory. Five of Harper’s 11 home runs in 2016 have come against the Fish, and his 20 career round trippers against Miami is the most he’s had against any opponent.
Valiant in Defeat- Tom Koehler
The lanky Marlins’ starter wasn’t dominant as he allowed six hits and walked five batters, but he was a clutch performer with men on base as he allowed only one run in his 5.2 innings pitched. Koehler’s best moments may have come in the bottom of the first, when he got out of a two on, out jam by retiring red-hot Daniel Murphy on a popout and struck out Ryan Zimmerman to keep the Nats off of the board.
Washington’s two pinch-hit homers marked the third time a team has had two or more pinch-hit blasts in a game in 2016. The St. Louis Cardinals performed the feat the two other times it has been done, first getting pinch-hit blasts from Jeremy Hazelbaker, Aledyms Diaz and Greg Garcia in a 7-4 win against Atlanta on April 8th and then getting pinch-hit homers from Brandon Moss and Matt Adams on April 15th as the Cards defeated Cincinnati.
Washington’s six pinch-hit homers on the year is the most the Nats have had in a season since 2013 when Washington had a Nats’ high eight. The 2006 team also had eight pinch-hit home runs.
The Nats allowed two unearned runs in an ugly top of the fifth inning, making this the first game in the 2016 season where Washington has allowed more than one unearned run. The Nats last allowed multiple unearned runs in a game back on September 5, 2015 when both of Atlanta’s runs were of the unearned variety in Washington’s 8-2 win.
Jonathan Papelbon earned his 359th career save last night as he retired the only two batters he faced. The game was only the 16th, and the fourth since 2011, where Papelbon has earned a save while pitching less than one inning.
Stephen Strasburg’s strong finish to the 2015 season has carried over to 2016. On Tuesday, the Nats’ hurler shut the Marlins out through eight innings to lead the Nats to a 7-0 win.
The Nats’ seven game road trip concluded yesterday afternoon with a 5-1 loss to the Marlins which made the Nats’ 4-3 on the trip, including a split of four games at the generally deserted Marlins Park. There were some ups and downs in the series in South Florida, and we’ll look at the glass as half full by focusing on the positives.
- Stephen Strasburg’s Dominance
Since returning from injury in the second half of the 2015 season, Strasburg has been among the best pitchers in baseball. So far in 2016 he’s maintained that form, and he pitched his best game of the 2016 season in Tuesday’s 7-0 win over the Marlins.
By the pitching game score metric, the game was the fourth best start in the righthander’s career as he put up an 84 PGS while holding the Marlins to three hits and fanning 10 in eight innings pitched. Strasburg was in control from the beginning, and looked strong in the late innings as he registered the fourth game of his career where he’s pitched eight or more innings.
His 3-0 start in the 2016 season has put his career record in the season’s first month over the .500 mark (he is now 10-8 in March/April contests). He’s not allowed a home run this season in 21 innings pitched, and has a streak of 45 innings in which he’s not allowed a home run in road games.
Strasburg’s victory was the 11th in his career against the Marlins, the most the tall hurler has had against any opponent.
2. A Miami Missile
Don’t let the slender appearance fool anyone, Nats’ lanky outfielder Jayson Werth has primo power and that stroke was on display on Tuesday in Miami. Werth’s 432 laser shot into the garish beyond the outfield wall display broke a 0-0 tie in the seventh inning and started talented Miami lefty Adam Conley on the road to destruction. According to ESPN’s Home Run Tracker took, Werth’s blast left the park at 113 miles per hour. The last time Werth had a homer that left the park at that speed or greater was in August of 2014 when his homer off of San Francisco’s Tim Hudson made it to the seats in Nats Park at 114.4 mph.
3. Bryce on Fire
Bryce Harper’s accomplishments over the past year or so are well documented, but it is still fun to look at what the young outfielder is accomplishing. Today we’ll look at some of his accomplishments this season related to the long ball.
Harper had two homers in the Miami series, including one off of old friend Tom Koehler, to give him five in the seven game road trip and eight on the year. He has more than a week left to break his own record, set in 2013, for home runs in the season’s first month of nine. Harper also holds the record for the most home runs in any month by a National. He went deep 13 times last May on the way to his MVP season.
4. No Small Effort
Burly reliever Yusmeiro Petit was one of the heroes in Wednesday’s Nats 3-1 win, throwing four solid innings in relief of starter Joe Ross (who left due to a blister on his pitching hand) to earn the victory. The game marked the fifth time in Petit’s career where he’s thrown four or more innings in a relief role, and was the first where he picked up a win in such a contest.