Rookie Reynaldo Lopez allowed only one run in seven innings pitched to earn his first Major League win in Washington’s 7-6 victory over Atlanta on Saturday evening at Nationals Park. The win and Miami’s loss to the Chicago White Sox at Marlins Park moved the Nats’ lead in the National League East to 8.5 games.
NATS’ RECORD 68-47
Nationals 7 Braves 6
WP- Lopez (1-1) LP- Whalen (1-1) SV- Melancon (33)
HR- Freeman, Atl (22), Murphy, Was (22), Turner, Was (3)
STARS OF THE GAME
Third Star- Hitting in the second spot in the lineup, centerfielder Ben Revere went 2 for 4 with two triples and a RBI. He also made a superb catch on an Erick Aybar drive in the top of the first inning, and started a perfect relay that cut down Aybar trying to stretch a double into a triple to record a crucial out in the top of the ninth inning.
Second Star- Another game, another outstanding performance by Nats’ rookie Trea Turner. The exciting leadoff man went 3 for 5 with a triple, a homer and scored three runs to pace Washington’s attack. Turner now has a team leading 11 runs scored so far in August.
Star of the Game- 22 year old first year Major Leaguer Reynaldo Lopez showed the poise of a veteran hurler on Saturday, allowing only one run in seven strong innings to earn his first Major League win. Improved command was key for the hard-throwing righthander, as Lopez threw 71 of his 100 pitches for strikes and allowed only two walks.
Valiant in Defeat- Freddie Freeman was the main man again for the Braves, going 1 for 3 with a homer and two walks. The man Nats’ fans least like to see at the plate in crucial moments also nearly tied the game in the top of the ninth inning, flying out deep to rightfield on a drive that had the collective hearts of Nats’ fans in their throats.
The contest marked the fifth time in Nats’ history that the team has had three or more triples in a game. Prior to Saturday evening, the last time the Nats’ had three three-baggers in a game came on April 14, 2014 in Miami when Bryce Harper, Danny Espinosa and Anthony Rendon all tripled in Washington’s 9-2 over the Marlins. The first three triple game by the Nats came against Atlanta, back on April 13, 2005 when Jamey Carroll, Jose Vidro and Termell Sledge each had a three-bagger in Washington’s 11-4 win at Turner Field.
With his two triples last evening, Revere became the fourth player in Nats’ history to triple twice in game. The last player to do so before Saturday was Denard Span, who did so on May 31, 2013 in Washington’s 3-2 victory at Atlanta.
The Nats’ two home runs in last night’s win gave them 152 on the year, the fifth highest total Washington has registered in a season. The team high for home runs in a season was set in 2012 when Washington had 194 round-trippers.
Daniel Murphy had four RBI and his 22nd home run of the year on Saturday. He has 86 RBI on the year, second only to Colorado’s Nolan Arenado (who has 93) in the National League.
The Nats’ Tanner Roark takes on Atlanta’s Tyrell Jenkins in the rubber game of the three game set.
Roark is 4-1 with a 1.78 ERA in his career against the Braves, but several Atlanta players have fared well against him. A.J. Pierzynski has seven hits in 10 career at bats against Roark with a double and two homers, while Matt Kemp is 3 for 6 with a pair of round-trippers.
Jenkins is 2-2 with a 3.92 ERA in his rookie campaign but has pitched well in his last three starts, allowing only two earned runs in 18 innings pitched.
Nats’ killer Freddie Freeman celebrates his three run home run with Atlanta starting pitcher Mike Foltynewicz in last night’s Braves 8-5 victory at Nationals Park over Washington.
Nationals Record- 67-47
Braves 8 Nationals 5
WP- Foltynewicz (6-5) LP- Strasburg (15-3) SV- Johnson (10)
HR- Peterson, Atl (6), Freeman, Atl (22), Recker, Atl (1), Rendon, Was (14
STARS OF THE GAME
Third Star- Since he’s joined the Braves, catcher Anthony Recker has been among the most productive backstops in the National League, posting a .349 average with eight RBI in 43 at bats. He hit his first home run of the year last night, drilling a long home run to left-center off of Matt Belisle to pad Atlanta’s lead.
Second Star- Braves’ second baseman Jace Peterson is known more for his speed than for his power, but he showed that he can hit with the big boys last night. Peterson hit a soaring home run to right-center off of Nats’ starter Stephen Strasburg to give Atlanta a 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning for his sixth round tripper of the year. Peterson also drove home Atlanta’s final run with a seventh inning sacrifice fly.
Star of the Game- Atlanta’s talented Freddie Freeman appears to be an affable individual, but to the Nationals he resembles Freddie Krueger. The first baseman slashed the Nats yet again, going 2 for 3 with a run scoring double and a three run homer to pace Atlanta’s winning attack. In his career at Nationals Park, Freeman is hitting a robust .324. After struggling due to injuries at the start of the 2016 campaign, the left-handed swinger now has an impressive .906 OPS on the year.
Valiant in Defeat- All teams want their leadoff hitters to reach base consistently, and Washington’s Trea Turner did just that on Friday night. The speedy Nats’ rookie went 3 for 5 with a run scored and two stolen bases from the top spot in Washington’s order. Turner is now hitting .301 on the year.
Strasburg gave up a season high five extra base hits in the contest, giving him nine extra-base hits allowed in his last two starts (both of them losses). In his seven starts prior to last weekend’s appearance against San Francisco, Strasburg had allowed a total of nine extra base hits.
Speaking of extra-base hits, Washington’s leaders in that category all checked in to pad their totals last night. Nats’ extra-base hit leader Daniel Murphy had his 34th double of the year to pad his XBH total on the year to 60, Anthony Rendon hit his 14th homer of the year to give him 43 XBHs on the season and Jayson Werth’s double put his XBH total at 39.
The Nats surrendered three homers to Atlanta last night, marking only the sixth time in 2016 that Washington has given up three or more homers in a game. Not surprisingly, Washington is 0-6 in those contests. Only the New York Mets (with five) have fewer three plus home runs allowed games in 2016 among National League teams.
The Nats’ loss did not hurt their position in the National League East, as both Miami and the Mets lost last evening as well. With 48 games left to play, Washington holds a healthy 7.5 game advantage over the Marlins.
Rookie hurlers battle in steamy DC this evening, as Atlanta’s Robert Whalen and the Nats’ Reynaldo Lopez both make their third career starts.
Whalen is 1-0 in his two starts, defeating Pittsburgh in his debut game and getting a no decision on August 8th despite pitching well (six innings, three runs, seven strikeouts) in Atlanta’s 4-3 win at Milwaukee.
Fireballing righty Lopez has been erratic in his first two starts, allowing 14 hits and walking six in 8.2 innings pitched, but he has shown an ability to get the strikeout as he’s fanned 13 batters.
Jayson Werth circles the bases following his three run home run in the second inning of Washington’s 7-4 victory over Cleveland on Wednesday afternoon at Nationals Park.
Nationals 7 Indians 4
Nats’ Record- 67-46
WP- Gonzalez (8-9) LP- Tomlin (11-5) SV- Melancon (32)
HR- Werth, Was (15) Lindor, Cle (14)
STARS OF THE GAME
Third Star- What a joy it is to watch a talented and determined closer practice his craft. Newly acquired Mark Melancon was on his game again yesterday, retiring all three Indians he faced in the top of the ninth to earn his 32nd save of the year and his second with the Nats. In five innings pitched for Washington, Melancon has allowed only one hit with seven strikeouts and zero walks.
Second Star- Just like the weather in the dog day of August Anthony Rendon has heated up recently, and his play was key to Washington’s win on Wednesday. Rendon was 2 for 4 with a pair of doubles and two clutch runs driven in to give the Nats some breathing room down the stretch. Rendon is hitting a robust .324 with nine doubles in 77 at bats and a .995 OPS since play resumed following the All-Star break.
Star of the Game- Veteran outfielder Jayson Werth has been a productive hitter for the majority of his Major League career, and his production of late has been a boon to a Nats’ team that has not received much production for its outfield corps recently. Werth went two for three with three runs scored, a double and a three run homer to pace the Nats’ attack. Like his teammate Rendon, Werth has enjoyed second half success in 2016 putting up a post- break OPS of .866 after checking in at .762 before the All-Star game.
Valiant in Defeat- Jose Ramirez is one of many talented young players for Cleveland, and the versatile infielder went 3 for 4 with a RBI and a stolen base in the Indians’ losing effort. On the year, Ramirez is hitting .309 with 47 runs driven in.
Mark Melancon picked up the save when he finished off Cleveland in the top of the ninth, but one of his bullpen mates may have saved the day much earlier. Entering the game in the top of the sixth with two on, nobody out and with Washington up 7-4, veteran Matt Belisle got Lonnie Chisenall to ground into a double play and retired Abraham Almonte on a grounder to keep Washington’s three run lead in place. Belisle has put up an impressive 1.091 WHIP and a sterling 1.84 ERA and has been an under the radar success story out of the Nats’ bullpen this season.
Gio Gonzalez wasn’t in top form, but he did earn his eighth win of the year on Wednesday leaving him two shy of recording his seventh consecutive double digit win season. In his career, Gonzalez has a 6-0 mark with a 1.62 ERA against the Tribe.
With four games to go against Baltimore, the Nats have an impressive 11-5 mark in inter-league games this year. That win total puts them one shy of the Nats’ high of 12 victories in a season against American League teams, set all the way back in 2005 when the first Nats’ squad put up a 12-6 mark against teams from the Junior Circuit.
Wednesday’s win left the Nats with a 7.5 game lead over Miami in the National League East. In their division winning seasons of 2012 and 2014, the Nats’ lead was 4.5 games following wins in the 113th game of those years.
The Nats and divisional foe Atlanta get to renew acquaintances this weekend at Nationals Park, with Washington holding a 6-0 record in games against the Braves so far this season.
Stephen Strasburg takes the mound on Friday looking for a career high 16th win. In 11 career starts at Nationals Park against Atlanta the Nats’ All-Star has a 4-4 mark, but has allowed more than three earned runs in only two of those starts. A matchup to watch on Friday will be Strasburg against Braves’ first baseman Freddie Freeman. The left-handed swinger is hitting .387 in 31 career at bats against Strasburg, but Stras has retired him the last five times they have met up with three of the outs being recorded on strikeouts.
Atlanta comes into the series playing well, as the Braves have won nine of their last 14 games. On the mound for Atlanta on Friday is Mike Foltynewicz, who is 4-4 with a 4.37 ERA this year. The 6’4″, 220 pound righty has allowed 13 home runs in only 78.1 innings pitched. Ben Revere is 3 for 4 with two doubles and a triple in his career against Foltynewicz.