Tanner Roark was money in the bank again for the Nationals last night, throwing eight shutout innings and leading the Nats to a 6-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates at Nationals Park.
Nationals’ Record- 56-36
Nationals 6 Pirates 0
WP- Roark (9-5) LP- Cole (5-5)
HR- Rendon, Was (10)
STARS OF THE GAME
Third Star- Anthony Rendon was 2-4 with a homer and two RBI on the game. The Nats’ third sacker drove in the game’s first run in the bottom of the first with a RBI single, and hit a booming solo home run to left-center in the bottom of the fifth. It is interesting to note that the last 24 home runs hit by the right-handed hitting Rendon have come against right-handed pitchers. The last home run Rendon has hit against a southpaw came back on June 24, 2014 when he hit a round-tripper at Milwaukee off of Wil Smith.
Second Star- Dusty Baker has masterfully used the Nationals’ bench players and after Clint Robinson played a big role in Friday’s win, fellow bench man Stephen Drew was in the spotlight on Saturday. The versatile infielder went 3 for 4 with two runs scored as he filled in for All-Star Daniel Murphy at second base. All of Drew’s hits were doubles, marking the most two baggers he’s hit in a game in his career. Drew has an impressive .981 OPS in games played at Nationals Park this year, and his overall OPS of .892 is nothing to sneeze at.
Star of the Game- Tanner Roark is not the most flashy or most recognized member of the Nats’ pitching staff, but it is getting impossible to deny that his results make him one of its most effective hurlers. Roark earned his ninth win of the year with eight shutout innings, marking the 11th time he’s pitched seven or more shutout innings in his career. Only Gio Gonzalez (15) and Jordan Zimmermann (13) have had more such games in their time in Nats’ colors, and both have started many more games in Nats’ colors than Roark has (Zimmermann had 178 starts in DC, Gonzalez has taken the hill 140 times and Roark has started 67 times).
Valiant in Defeat- There wasn’t much to cheer about for fans from the Steel City, but they did get to see ultra-talented Andrew McCutchen go 2 for 4 to increase his lifetime OPS at Nationals Park to 1.020. Among opponents with 70 or more at bats at Nationals Park, McCutchen trails only Adrian Gonzalez of the Dodgers (1.078), Giancarlo Stanton of Miami (1.068) and Joey Votto of the Reds (.1.056) in career OPS.
Rendon’s home run gave the Nats seven players with at least 10 home runs so far this season. The most Nationals’ players with double digit home runs in a season was eight, set last season.
The shutout by the Nats’ staff last night was the 49th for the home team in Nationals Park history, and the sixth of the 2016 season. The most shutouts for the Nats at home in a season came in 2014, when Washington whitewashed opponents 12 times.
The Nats go for the three game sweep behind Max Scherzer this afternoon. Scherzer is 4-2 with a 3.09 ERA and a 12.4 SO/9 ratio against Pittsburgh lifetime. Josh Harrison has struggled mightily against the Nats’ fireballer in his career, going 0 for 12 with five strikeouts. Outfielder Matt Joyce has fared almost as poorly against Scherzer, going 2-20 with a home run and six strikeouts.
Pittsburgh sends young Delaware native Chad Kuhl to the mound and while Kuhl sports a rugged 6.08 ERA over his first three starts, the Pirates have won each of those games. Kuhl is 1-0 on the year, picking up a win in his Major League debut as he bettered Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers back on June 26th at PNC Park.
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.
Stephen Strasburg’s dominant performance on Friday night led the Washington Nationals to a 3-1 victory over division rival New York at Citi Field as Washington expanded its lead in the NL East to four games.
After Thursday night’s slugfest in which the teams combined for 16 runs and eight home runs, Friday’s matchup of all-star pitchers Stephen Strasburg of Washington and Noah Syndergaard of New York promised a game of a different sort. While Syndergaard was not totally on his game and had to leave due to a “tired arm” in the fifth inning, Strasburg kept up his end of the bargain to pace Washington to perhaps its best win of 52 it has so far in the 2016 season.
Nationals’ Record- 52-36
WP- Strasburg (12-0) LP- Syndergaard (9-4) SV- Papelbon (18)
HR- Robinson, Was (5), Cabrera, NYM (12)
STARS OF THE GAME
Third Star- If one is looking for top performers for the Nationals in a game against the Mets, chances are that Daniel Murphy is going to be a viable candidate for that role. On Friday night Murphy was again in the center of the action, driving home Jayson Werth on a third innings double to pad Washington’s lead to 3-0. Murphy’s RBI was his 60th of the year, and he is on pace to shatter his career high of 78 RBI which he set in 2013 while playing for the Mets. Murphy was also big with the glove, snaring a rocket off of the bat of New York’s Juan Lagares to start a crucial double play to end the Mets’ eighth inning and keep Washington’s tenuous two run lead in place.
Second Star- Washington’s Clint Robinson’s story is one of perseverance, as the left-handed outfielder/first baseman toiled through many years in the Minors before getting a shot to play for the Nats last year. In 2016 Robinson is solidifying his place in the Majors, and his two run second inning home run off of Syndergaard was the big hit in last night’s contest. The home run was the third of Robinson’s career at Citi Field, and he is the only player in the Major Leagues with more than one home run against Syndegaard. When he has started a game, Robinson has posted an impressive .275/.348/.422 slash line over his time with the Nationals.
Star of the Game- Stephen Strasburg has been very good with flashes of brilliance during his Major League career, but 2016 appears to be the year when the former number one draft pick is putting everything together. Strasburg toyed with the Mets last night, allowing only two hits and one run in seven innings pitched to earn his 12th win in as many decisions on the year. The Nats’ righty is second among National League pitchers in WAR with 3.7 (Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers is first at 4.8), and he is now 6-1 with a 1.97 ERA in games at Citi Field.
Valiant in Defeat- On a day when the Mets lost Syndergaard and fellow All-Star Yoenis Cespedes to injury, an unlikely trio held the Mets in the game and gave the New Yorkers a fighting chance to pull out a win. Relievers Seth Lugo, Jerry Blevins and Erik Goeddel combined to hold the Nationals scoreless and hitless over the last 4.1 innings of the game, fanning five Nationals’ hitters in the process.
So far in 2016, Strasburg (11.14) and teammate Max Scherzer (11.56) have impressive SO/9 numbers. There have never been a pair of teammates to finish a season with 11.0 plus SO/9 totals. If Strasburg, Scherzer and Miami’s Jose Fernandez (whose 12.91 SO/9 number leads the Majors) hold on to finish above 11.0, they will be the first trio to do so since 1997 when Curt Schilling of Philadelphia (11.29), Pedro Martinez of Montreal (11.37) and Randy Johnson of Seattle (12.30) did so.
The key eighth inning double play turned by the Nats’ was their 85th of the season, the third highest total in the National League. The Nats have a .990 fielding percentage on the year, the best figure in the Major Leagues. They also have showed well in the defensive efficiency metric, posting a .700 number that is behind only the Cubs (.725) and Dodgers (.710) in the National League.
Max Scherzer takes the mound tonight for Washington, looking to continue his career success against the Mets. The Nats’ all-star is 4-3 with a 2.03 ERA, a .839 WHIP and 85 strikeouts in 62 innings pitched against New York. Wilmer Flores is 0 for 10 with seven strikeouts lifetime against Scherzer, while teammate Curtis Granderson has had some success going 8 for 27 (.296) with two home runs.
With Matt Harvey now on the shelf due to injury, New York will send Logan Verrett to the mound tonight. Verrett pitched fairly well in Washington last week despite picking up the loss, as he allowed only two runs and four hits in five innings pitched in the Nats’ 4-2 win. Verrett has struggled with the home run ball recently however, allowing six round trippers in his last 13 innings pitched.
What a difference a day makes. On Sunday, the Nationals hit six home runs and scored 12 times in an easy win over the Reds. Today in the annual 4th of July matinee, the Nats fell 1-0 to 31 year old rookie Junior Guerra and the Milwaukee Brewers in a game where they only registered two hits.
Brewers 1 Nationals 0
Nationals Record- 50-34
WP- Guerra (6-1) LP- Scherzer (9-6) SV- Jeffress (22)
HR- Maldonado, Mil (3)
STARS OF THE GAME
Third Star– Milwaukee’s Jeremy Jeffress earned his 22nd save of the year and he did it the hard way, navigating through the heart of the Nationals’ lineup and some difficult weather conditions. In earning his third save in as many appearances against the Nats in 2016, Jeffress retired Jayson Werth on a grounder to third, got Bryce Harper on a hard grounder to short and retired Ryan Zimmerman on a comeback grounder after he had walked Wilson Ramos to put the tying run on base.
Second Star– Hitting only .154 at the time of his fifth inning at bat, Brewers’ reserve catcher Martin Maldonado seemed to be an unlikely threat to break a scoreless tie. Maldonado did break the tie however in a big way, driving a mammoth home run to left to score the game’s only run. The homer was Maldonado’s third of the year and his second against the Nats (he also homered on Sunday June 26th off of Shawn Kelley in Washington’s 3-2 victory at Milwaukee).
Star of the Game- 31 year old rookie pitchers in the Majors are as rare as a 70 degree day on the 4th of July in Washington, DC, but Milwaukee’s Junior Guerra continued his surprising success in his first Major League season with 7.2 innings of dominant pitching. Guerra allowed only two hits (singles by Danny Espinosa and Werth) and struck out seven to improve to 6-1 on the year.
Valiant in Defeat- One can’t fault the Nationals’ pitching staff for today’s loss. Max Scherzer, Felipe Rivero, Kelley and recently activated Jonathan Papelbon combined to hold the Brew Crew to five hits and one run in a strong effort. Unfortunately for the Nationals, Milwaukee’s pitchers on the day were slightly better.
The Nationals have been shut out 57 times at Nationals Park since 2008, with seven coming in 1-0 games. The last time the Nats dropped a 1-0 contest at home was on May 14, 2011 when Annibal Sanchez out dueled Livan Hernandez in a game that was won on a seventh inning home run by Giancarlo (then known as Mike) Stanton.
The Brewers white-washing of the Nationals in the Nation’s Capital marked the second time Milwaukee has pitched a shutout in DC since 2005. On July 2, 2013, the Brewers scored four runs in the eighth inning off of Nats’ reliever Drew Storen in top of the eighth inning to score all the runs on the game in Milwaukee’s 4-0 victory. Stephen Strasburg had a tough luck no-decision on that day, as his seven inning, three hit, eight strikeout performance went to waste.
Washington has had two or fewer hits in games at Nationals Park nine times, with the last time before today coming on April 27th of this season when Jeremy Hellickson and two relievers held the Nats to two base hits (a Daniel Murphy double and a single by Espinosa) in Philadelphia’s 3-0 win over the Nats.
Gio Gonzalez looks to win his fifth game of the year on Tuesday night, taking on Brewers youngster Zach Davies.
In his career at Nationals Park, Gonzalez is 28-18 with a sparkling 3.17 ERA. A pitcher-batter match-up to watch on Tuesday is Gonzalez against Brewers’ catcher Jonathan Lucroy. In 10 career at bats against the Nats’ lefty, Lucroy has six hits.
Davies threw well for the Brewers in June, finishing the month with a 3-1 record and a 2.89 ERA. Davies has held right handed batters to a .670 OPS on the year, but hasn’t fared as well against lefties who have put up a .834 OPS against him.
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.
Milwaukee’s rookie pinch-hitter Keon Broxton watches his first career home run leave the park in the fifth inning of last night’s Brewers’ 5-3 victory over the Nationals at Miller Park.
There are many ups and downs in a 162 game Major League baseball season, and the Nationals are certainly in a down period at present. After losing two in a row to close their series with the Padres and being swept in three games at Dodger Stadium by Los Angeles, the Nats looked to rebound against lowly Milwaukee with Max Scherzer on the mound. Unfortunately it was more of the same for the Nats in the land of cheese, beer and brats, as the Nats lost 5-3 for their sixth straight defeat on what is becoming a brutal road trip.
Milwaukee 5 Nationals 3
WP- C. Torres (1-0) LP- Scherzer (8-5) SV- Jeffress (20
HR- Broxton, Mil (1) Nieuwenhuis, Mil (4)
STARS OF THE GAME
Third Star– Acquired from Pittsburgh last season, rookie outfielder Keon Broxton seems to have the tools to succeed at the Major League level. Last night the youngster showed his talent, driving a Max Scherzer slider into the Brewers’ bullpen in left-center to tie the game at 3-3 in the bottom of the fifth. The home run was the first of Broxton’s career.
Second Star(s)– The Brewers’ bullpen is a pedestrian group at best, posting a 4.14 ERA (eighth in the Nationals League) and surrendering 33 homers (tied for third worst in the NL) on the season so far. Last night, however, the Brew Crew’s pen went Nasty Boys on the Nats, as winning pitcher Carlos Torres, lefty Will Smith, hard throwing Tyler Thornberg and gusty closer Jeremy Jeffress held the Nats scoreless over the game’s final four innings to secure the win.
Star of the Game- Max Scherzer has allowed 20 home runs on the year, but none have traveled further than Kirk Nieuwenhuis’ 423 blast to right centerfield last night that gave the Brewers their winning runs. The former Met has struggled so far in Milwaukee hitting .224 with 63 strikeouts in 161 at bats, but his impressive round-tripper was the highlight moment of yesterday’s Brewers’ win.
Valiant in Defeat– Wilson Ramos continued his red-hot June, going 4 for 5 with a RBI in Washington’s losing effort. Ramos is hitting .371 with a 1.094 OPS so far this month. On the year, Ramos has posted a .951 OPS. If that mark holds up over the year, Ramos will become only the 14th full-time catcher since 1950 with an OPS of greater than .950.
Danny Espinosa was hit by a Zach Davies pitch in the second inning of the game, marking the 12th time the Nats’ shortstop has suffered that fate this season. Espinosa (in 2011) and former National outfielder Jose Guillen (in 2005) hold the Washington record for most hit by pitches in a season with 19. Daniel Murphy and Ben Revere were also hit by pitches in the game, making last night the 13th time the Nats have had at least three batters hit during a game. The Washington record for HBPs in a game is four, set on April 6, 2006 against the Mets and equaled on June 5, 2011 against Arizona.
Scherzer allowed multiple home runs in a game for the fifth time in 2016, moving him closer to the Nats’ record of eight multi-home run games allowed in a season that he (Scherzer had eight such games last season) shares with Ramon Ortiz (2006), Mike Bacsik (2007) and Dan Haren (2008).
Daniel Murphy doubled and drove in a pair of runs last night, giving him 20 doubles on the year. His career high of 40, set in 2012 for the Mets, appears to be well in reach. The two bagger ended a five game string where the Nats’ second baseman was held without an extra base hit.
Washington had four batters (Michael A. Taylor, Ryan Zimmerman, Anthony Rendon and Espinosa) with three strikeouts each last evening. The game was only the second one since 2005 where Washington has had four players with three or more strikeouts. Last season on July 18th against Los Angeles and Clayton Kershaw, Bryce Harper, Taylor, Yunel Escobar and Clint Robinson each were fanned three times.
Gio Gonzalez takes on Brewers’ veteran Matt Garza this afternoon in the second game of the three game series.
Gonzalez is 2-1 with a 3.62 ERA in five lifetime starts against Milwaukee, but the Nats’ lefty will likely be treading softly when Brewers’ catcher Jonathan Lucroy is at the plate. The Brew Crew’s backstop has six hits in eight with a double and three RBI in his career against Gonzalez.
While Gonzalez may circled Lucroy’s name as an opponent to watch out for, Garza’s attention will likely be focused on many opposing hitters today. Jayson Werth (.412 with two doubles and a homer in 17 at bats), Zimmerman (.357 average with a double in 14 at bats), Ramos (5-13 with a double and a homer), and Harper (3-6, two doubles) have all fared well against the righthander. Garza has had success against Murphy however, holding him hitless in six career at bats.
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.
Ben Revere’s first inning stolen base led to Washington’s first run on Sunday at Miami in a game that Nats would win 8-2. Revere had two steals on the day to register his first stolen bases of the season.
The Nationals ended their three game series in Miami with an 8-2 victory that allowed them to not only win the set at Marlins Park by two games to one, but also ended their six game road trip against the Marlins and the Mets with a 4-2 record. Heading home to Nationals Park for a rematch with the Mets, Washington is 1.5 games up over the New Yorkers in the National League East.
NATIONALS 8 @ MARLINS 2 Nationals’ Record (27-17)
WP- Scherzer (5-3) LP- Conley (3-3)
HR- Bour, Mia (9)
STARS OF THE GAME
Third Star- It wasn’t a no-hitter or a 20 strikeout performance, but Max Scherzer gave the Nats an excellent effort on Sunday. He struck out eight, walked no one and allowed only six hits as he picked up his fifth win in eight decisions on the season.
Second Star- Leadoff man Ben Revere sparked the visitors on Sunday. He led off the first with a line drive single off of Miami starter Adam Conley, stole second, moved to third on a Jayson Werth grounder to second and scored on Bryce Harper’s sacrifice fly to short centerfield. In his second at bat Revere executed a perfect drag bunt for a single, eventually stole third base and scored on Daniel Murphy’s hit. Later, the suddenly hot lefthanded swinger drove home two runs with a sixth inning hit that chased Conley from the game. Revere became the fourth Nationals’ player to have three hits, two runs, two RBI and two steals in the same game, and the first since Ian Desmond did so on September 13, 2014 at Citi Field against the Mets. Other Nats’ hitters to achieve that feat were Elijah Dukes (6/20/2008 v.s Texas in a 14 inning 4-3 Nats’ win) and Lastings Milledge (in Washington’s 8-7 loss at Florida on 9/14/2008).
Star of the Game- Since moving to the sixth spot in the lineup, Anthony Rendon has looked like the player that many considered one of the top hitters in the National League in 2014. Rendon went 2 for 4 with three RBI (his first three RBI game since 8/23/15 when he drove home three runs against Milwaukee), and also shined with the glove as he made several sparkling plays to support Scherzer.
Valiant in Defeat- The ageless Ichiro Suzuki had two more hits on the game, moving within 44 of the 3,000 hit mark. Suzuki almost had a third safety, but was called out by the replay umpires after he had been ruled safe on a slow bouncer to Rendon at third.
Miami walked nine Nats’ batters on the game, marking the second time this season that the Marlins have walked that many opponents. The first time came back on April 7th at Nationals Park, when the Marlins also issued nine free passes. Despite the wildness from their, the Marlins pulled that game out by a 6-4 score.
The Marlins’ Justin Bour hit another impressive home run, this one an upper deck blast off of Scherzer in the bottom of the seventh that gave Miami its only two runs. Bour has three home runs on the season against Washington. The most by any player against the Nats in a season is eight, set by Andruw Jones of Atlanta in 2005 and equaled by Ryan Howard of Philadelphia in 2007 and Raul Ibanez, also of the Phils, in 2009.
Wilson Ramos had a solid game, going 2 for 3 with a run scored and two walks. The two free pass game was the second of 2016 for Ramos. The Nats’ catcher also did the trick back on May 10th in Washington’s 5-4 loss to Detroit.
Ryan Zimmerman watches his mammoth home run to left field that got the Nationals off on the right foot on Friday as Washington defeated Miami 4-1 for its third win in a row.
Five games this week against division rivals Miami and New York showed the ebbs and flows a team goes through during the course of a Major League season. The Nats were dominated by superb pitchers in the first two games of the week, but bounced back to score runs and pick up wins as the week moved into its second half.
Here’s a look back, which was made possible in large part by Baseball-reference.com’s Play Index, at the past five games for the Nats.
SUN May 15- Miami 5 Washington 1 Nationals Record 23-15
WP- Fernandez (5-2) LP- Ross (3-3) SV- Ramos (11)
HR- Zimmerman, Was 4), Stanton, Mia (11)
This matinee at Nationals Park became the Jose Fernandez show, as the Marlins’ superb righty was dominant on the mound and helped out at the plate to give Miami the win. Fernandez allowed only one run and fanned 11 in seven innings pitched, to move his career mark against Washington to 5-0 with an eye popping 1.09 ERA. With the bat, Fernandez had two sacrifice bunts and helped put the Marlins into a comfortable lead with a two run single off of Nats’ starter Joe Ross that gave Miami a four run lead.
Ross allowed five runs (three earned) in a so-so start. The game was only the third in 20 career starts for Ross where he’s allowed more than four runs.
Washington’s only run came on Ryan Zimmerman’s inside the park home run that resulted from a horrific looking crash between Marlins’ outfielders Marcel Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton on Zim’s deep shot to right center field. The inside the park homer was the third in Nationals’ history, all of which have come at home. On May 12, 2007, Austin Kearns circled the bases at RFK Stadium with Washington’s first ever inside the park homer, and Willie Harris did the trick on September 24, 2010 at Nationals Park against Atlanta.
TUES May 17- NY Mets 2 Washington 0 (at Citi Field) Nationals Record 23-16
WP- Syndergaard (4-2) LP- Scherzer (4-3) SV- Familia (13)
HR- Granderson, NY (7), Conforto, NY (6)
On Tuesday at Citi Field Washington’s starter Max Scherzer was good, but good rarely beats great and it didn’t on this night. Mets’ ace Noah Syndergaard was so awesome in this one that those of us watching couldn’t help but wonder how he ever loses.
The tall New York hurler allowed only five hits, no walks and struck out 10 in his seven innings of work, marking only the second time in his career where he’s had 10 or more strikeouts while pitching at least seven innings and walking no one.
Mets’ leadoff man Curtis Granderson gave Syndergaard all the support he’d need when he hit Scherzer’s first pitch of the night over the right field wall to give the Mets a 1-0 lead. The homer was the 38th leadoff round tripper of Granderson’s career.
Scherzer’s strikeout pitches were working as well, as he fanned 10 Mets. The game marked the second time in his career where Scherzer has been tagged with a loss while striking out at least ten and allowing two or fewer runs. The other time came last season on May 1st at, you guessed it, Citi Field against Matt Harvey and the Mets when Max allowed only one run and punched out 10 in a 4-0 loss.
WED May 18- Washington 7 @ NY Mets 1 Nationals Record 24-16
WP- Gonzalez (3-1) LP Colon (3-3)
HR- Cespedes, NY (13)
Affable Nats’ starter Gio Gonzalez usually wears a smile wherever he goes, but that smile is probably a little bit bigger when he’s in New York to face the Mets. Gonzalez moved his career record at Citi Field to 7-1 with a 1.53 ERA as he led the Nats to a convincing win.
Gonzalez’s efficiency was in stark contrast to that of Colon and the relievers that followed him, as New York walked 11 Nationals’ batters. The 11 free passes tied the Nats’ record for most bases on balls in a nine inning game. The feat was done twice previously, once on May 7, 2005 at San Francisco in Washington’s 11-8 victory, and again on August 9, 2006 at RFK Stadium as Washington defeated Florida 5-2. Nats’ two and three hitters Jayson Werth (with three) and Bryce Harper (with four) combined for seven of the walks.
Werth also contributed two hits and scored three runs in the contest.
THURS May 19- Washington 9 @ NY Mets 1 Nationals Record 25-16
WP- Strasburg (7-0) LP- Harvey (3-6)
HR- Murphy, Was (6)
It was anything but “Happy Harvey Day” at Citi Field on Thursday as a dominant effort by Stephen Strasburg and some fireworks by the Nats left Mets’ starter Matt Harvey perplexed and the Citi Field faithful in a sour mood.
Strasburg moved to 7-0 on the year, fanning 10 and allowing only one run in six innings. The win was his fifth in eight career decisions against the Mets, and marked the fourth time in 10 starts against the New Yorkers where he’s had 10 or more strikeouts.
To add to the misery of the Mets’ fans, 2015 favorite son Daniel Murphy went 2 for 4 with a key two run, first innings home run off of Harvey that got the burly righthander’s night off to a bad start. Murphy’s homer against his former team was the 68th of his career. He has now hit home runs against every National League team with the exception of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Murphy’s teammates Ben Revere and Anthony Rendon contributed to the Nats’ big night. Revere went 2 for 5 with a two run triple, marking the second time this season the Nats’ speedster has had multiple hits in a game (he had 49 such games in 2015). Rendon did Revere one better in the hits department, going 3 for 4 with a run scored and two RBI. In 101 career at bats at Citi Field, Rendon is hitting .337 with eight doubles, six home runs and a .959 OPS.
FRI May 20- Washington 4 @ Miami 1 Nationals Record 26-16
WP- Roark (3-3) LP- Nicolino (2-2) SV- Papelbon (12)
HR- Zimmerman, Was (5), Taylor, Was (4), Ozuna, Mia (8)
Ryan Zimmerman’s 425 foot blast deep into the seats at Marlins Park was a marvel to watch, except if you happened to be Marlins’ starter Chris Nicolino or one of his teammates. Zim’s homer was his longest of the year and his first 425 plus blast since last September (when he hit a 427 foot home run at St. Louis on 9/2), and gave the Nats a lead they’d never lose in the opening game of what seems to be the 20th series of the young season between the Nats and the Marlins.
Michael A. Taylor added to the home run party in the second innings, as his laser blast to the left field seats gave the Nats a 4-0 lead. Six of the Nats’ eight hits on the game went for extra bases, although they couldn’t add on to the 4-0 lead and saw the Marlins threaten on several occasions. Starter Tanner Roark and relievers Felipe Rivero, Shawn Kelley (who navigated expertly through troubled waters in the eighth innings) and Jonathan Papelbon made the lead hold up however, as the Nats won their third consecutive game. The Nats’ pitchers were particularly effective against the suddenly struggling Stanton (who has no hits in his last 15 at bats), holding him hitless in four at bats and striking him out three times.
Washington’s defense helped out on Friday. Werth’s strong throw to nail Miami’s Adeiny Hechavarria as the Marlins’ shortstop tried to stretch a hit into a double in the seventh inning kept Miami from getting a runner into scoring position, and shortstop Danny Espinosa ended the game with a sparkling play that kept Miami from bringing the tying run to the plate.
Max Scherzer’s best start to date in the 2016 season helped the Washington Nationals to a 6-1 victory on Sunday as the Nats wrapped up a three game sweep of the home-standing St. Louis Cardinals.
Nats Record- 17-7
WP- Scherzer (3-1) LP- Martinez (4-1)
HR- Robinson Was (1), Espinosa Was (2), Heisey Was (3), Moss Stl (6)
Excellent starting pitching, solid defense and timely power hitting were the keys as the Nationals finished their three game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals with a 6-1 victory. The sweep was the Nationals’ first ever in St. Louis.
STARS OF THE GAME
Third Star- His batting average may be below the Mendoza Line and he only had one hit on the game, but Jose Lobaton fought the good fight for the Nationals all weekend long in Wilson Ramos’ absence and certainly was a key to the team’s success on Sunday. Lobaton’s sixth inning single off of Cards’ starter Carlos Martinez set the table for the first run of the game, a run that was tallied after Lobaton moved to second on Max Scherzer’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Matt den Dekker’s single to center. Over the weekend, Lobaton also helped lead a Nats’ starting pitching staff that held a powerful Cards’ lineup in check.
Second Star- Clint Robinson was a pleasant surprise in 2015, hitting .272 with 10 home runs and 34 RBI. His success last season had not translated over to 2016, but perhaps Sunday’s game will get Robinson moving in the right direction. The left-handed swinger had the big blow in Sunday’s game, hitting a two run home run off of Martinez in the top of the seventh inning that extended Washington’s lead to 3-0.
Star of the Game- All Scherzer did on the game was throw seven innings of shutout ball with nine strikeouts and go two for two with a sacrifice bunt at the plate as he won his third game in four decisions on the year. Scherzer allowed only four hits on the game and did not issue a walk, marking the seventh time he’s fanned at least nine batters and walked no one in his time with the Nationals.
Valiant in Defeat- Martinez was suffering from an illness leading into the game and he eventually tired in the seventh inning, but the flame throwing young pitcher showed his tremendous potential in the contest as he struck out eight and looked dominant in stretches. The loss was Martinez’s first in five decisions on the year.
Chris Heisey’s ninth inning pinch-hit home run was the 13th of his career, the most of any active Major League player.
The Nats take their three game winning streak to Kansas City to take on the World Champion Royals. Gio Gonzalez starts for Washington. The left-hander has been strong in May during his career, going 15-6 with a 3.51 ERA. Gonzalez has struggled in interleague contests however, winning only seven of his 18 decisions and allowing a 1.455 WHIP while putting up a hefty 4.74 ERA. His mound opponent Edinson Volquez is 10-5 with a 3.64 ERA in his career at Kaufman Stadium. Volquez is coming off his worst start to date in the 2016 saeason as he allowed eight runs in five innings pitched at the Los Angeles Angels on April 26th. Nats’ second baseman Daniel Murphy is 7 for 20 in his career against Volquez.