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.