Stephen Drew celebrates his game winning RBI triple with teammates Chris Heisey and Ben Revere last night at Nationals Park in Washington’s 3-2 victory over San Diego.
Nationals 3 Padres 2
Nationals’ Record 58-40
WP- Papelbon (2-2) LP- Quackenbush (6-4)
HR- Schimpf, SD (8)
STARS OF THE GAME
Third Star- 2016 has been a lost year in many ways for Nats’ centerfielder Ben Revere, but the speedy veteran had a good game on Saturday. Revere drove in a run with a double, reached base twice and made a nice diving catch in center to thwart Wil Myers’ attempt at a hit in the sixth inning.
Second Star- Max Scherzer was strong yet again, allowing only two runs on four hits while striking out 10 batters with no walks allowed in seven innings pitched. Since 2015, Scherzer has eight games of 10 plus strikeouts with no walks allowed. Only Los Angeles’ Clayton Kershaw with 11 has more.
Star of the Game- The job of being a late-inning pinch-hitter is not an easy one, but Washington’s Stephen Drew is making it look so this year. As a pinch-hitter, Drew has an amazing 1.214 OPS and his RBI triple drove Anthony Rendon home with the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Valiant in Defeat- Ask 1,000 people who consider themselves to be good baseball fans, and chances are that a good portion of them have not heard of San Diego’s second baseman Ryan Schimpf. If the rookie continues playing the way he has, that will change. Schimpf provided San Diego’s runs on the night, hitting a two run homer off of Scherzer in the top of the second inning. The homer was a Major League leading eighth for Schimpf so far in July.
With rumors of acquisitions of bullpen help circulating in Washington, the duo that composes the back end of the currently configured pen is not exactly showing signs of weakness. Both eighth inning man Shawn Kelley and current closer Jonathan Papelbon pitched scoreless innings last evening, continuing solid pitching for the pair over the past three weeks. In July Kelley has 11 strikeouts and only one walk allowed in 6.2 innings pitched, while Papelbon has thrown seven scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts and one intentional walk in the month. Papelbon has been particularly effective at home this year, posting a 2-0 record with a 1.10 ERA and a .735 WHIP.
Anthony Rendon’s leadoff single in the bottom of the ninth last night started Washington on the road to victory, and continued Rendon’s hot hitting ways against the Padres. After going 2-4 in last night’s game, the third baseman has a lifetime .303 average against San Diego in 66 at bats.
Daniel Murphy picked up his 71st RBI of the year on a sacrifice fly last evening, leaving him only seven runs batted in behind his career high of 78 set in 2013 while Murphy was playing for the Mets. Murphy’s .999 OPS so far in 2016 leads the National League.
Kudos to former National Edwin Jackson for a solid effort on the mound against the Nats last evening. Jackson allowed only two runs in six solid innings pitched, and may be earning himself a permanent spot in the San Diego rotation.
It’s a battle of Big and Tall Men’s Shop customers on Sunday, with Washington’s 6’6″ Lucas Giolito taking on San Diego’s 6’4″ Christian Friedrich in the rubber game of the teams’ three game series.
Giolito is looking for his first Major League win, while Friedrich is trying to get his performance in the month of July going in the right direction. So far this month, Friedrich is 0-3 with a 6.46 ERA.
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.
The Nationals new second baseman started off his time in Washington with a bang, hitting a home run and driving in the winning run with an extra-inning double as the Nationals defeated Atlanta 4-3 on opening day of the season.
NATS RECORD 1-0
WP- Treinen (1-0) LP O’Flaherty (0-1) SV- Papelbon (1)
HR- Harper Was (1), Murphy Was (1), Freeman Atl (1), Garcia Atl (1)
STARS of the Game
Third Star- 2015 National League MVP Bryce Harper started the 2016 season as though he has designs on earning that honor a second year in a row. Harper homered in the first inning and walked twice, showing the power and patience he displayed last year. Harper’s home run came off of Atlanta’s Julio Teheran, who has given up four career home runs to the Nats’ star. Harper has a career best five home runs off of Miami’s Tom Koehler, a pitcher he’s scheduled to face on Saturday at Nationals Park.
Second Star- Max Scherzer allowed only two runs in seven solid innings to keep Washington in the game despite several Nats’ failures with runners in scoring position. In 2015, Scherzer allowed two or fewer runs while pitching at least seven innings in 20 of his 33 starts. The Nats’ righty was touched up for two home runs, both of the solo variety, marking the ninth time he’s given up more than one round tripper in a game for Washington.
First Star- Washington thought it was getting a professional hitter when it signed Daniel Murphy to a free agent contract in the off-season, and the hard-nosed infielder proved to be just that in his first game wearing Nats’ colors. Murphy drilled a towering solo home run off of Teheran in the fourth inning to give the Nats’ a 2-1 lead, and them drove home Ryan Zimmerman with the winning run in the tenth on an opposite field double to lead Washington to victory.
The Unsung Hero
Lefty reliever Oliver Perez entered the game in the bottom of the eighth with the bases loaded and two outs, with Atlanta up 3-2 and solid hitter Nick Markakis at the plate. Perez struck the veteran outfielder out to keep Atlanta’s lead at one, and the Nats scratched out a run in the top of the ninth to tie the game. In 2015, Perez held left-handed hitters to a microscopic .517 OPS. Washington hopes Perez can replicate that success against lefties in 2016.
Gallant in a Losing Cause
It’s tempting to go with Freddie Freeman who continues to torture the Nats in head to head battles, but young right-hander Daniel Winkler gets the nod. Replacing an effective Teheran in the seventh, Winkler struck out Danny Espinosa, Scherzer and Michael A. Taylor in impressive fashion.
As Easy as One, Two, Three
Much maligned Nats’ closer Jonathan Papelbon picked up the save by retiring all three batters he faced in the Atlanta 10th. Papelbon had allowed at least one runner to reach base in each of his final 12 appearances in 2015.
Tough Day at the Office
New Braves infielder Gordon Beckham has bounced around from Chicago (AL) to Los Angeles (AL) and now to Atlanta for this season, and he didn’t do much to earn the favor of the fans in his new city on opening day. Beckham struck out in both of his plate appearances on the day, and made a crucial two base throwing error on a Zimmerman grounder that set the table for Murphy’s game winning hit.
The ninth inning rally by Washington to tie the game took relievers Felipe Rivero and Shawn Kelly off the hook. The pitchers, who are expected to provide Washington with solid efforts out of the pen in 2016, both had control issues and allowed Atlanta to take temporary 3-2 lead in the bottom of the eight.
Stephen Strasburg makes his 2016 debut at Turner Field against Atlanta’s Bud Norris in the final game of the two game set between division rivals.