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.
Hot hitting Daniel Murphy had four hits, including his fourth home run, scored four runs and drove in three to pace the Nats to a 13-2 win over the Kansas City Royals in the rubber game of the teams’ three game series at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium.
The state of Missouri has more than its share of baseball tradition. It is the home to the Negro League Hall of Fame, the National League’s most successful franchise in the St. Louis Cardinals and to the Kansas City Royals who have represented the American League in the two World Series showdowns. Over the past six days however, the best team playing Major League baseball in the state has been the team with the Curly Ws on its hats.
After sweeping the Cardinals in St. Louis over the weekend, the Nats journeyed to Kansas City and won two out of three games to improve their record to 19-8 and maintain a one and a half game lead over the New York Mets in the National League East.
Some notes coming out of the series include:
-Monday’s 2-0 shutout win over the Royals was the fourth of the season for the Nats. That total, reached on the second day of the season’s second month, is one more than the 2006 and 2009 Nationals’ staffs registered in a full season. The most team shutouts in Nats’ history is 19, set in 2014 by the National League East championship squad.
-Gio Gonzalez has started 216 Major Leagues and on Monday, he did something he’d not done before. Gonzalez threw six shutout innings but fanned only one Royal, making the game the first one Gonzalez has earned a win while starting and striking out one or fewer batters. His previous low was two strikeouts in 2010 when Gonzalez earned the win in Oakland’s 6-2 victory over Texas.
-Left-handed reliever Oliver Perez recorded two key outs in his appearance on Monday, continuing a trend of very solid pitching by the veteran hurler. Left-handed batters are hitting only .071 on the season, and Perez has retired nine (six on strikeouts) of the first batters he’s faced when entering a contest.
-Daniel Murphy has been one of the best hitters in the National League so far in 2016, and he continued his success in Kansas City as he went 8 for 13 with two doubles, two home runs and five RBI in the three games. Other Nats with very strong results in the series were Ryan Zimmerman (7 for 14, four doubles, two RBI) and Wilson Ramos (6 for 9, two doubles, two RBI).
-Murphy, Anthony Rendon and Jayson Werth all homered in the Nats’ 7-6 loss to the Royals on May 3rd. Rendon’s home run was his first since September 14th of last season when he went deep at Citizens Bank Park off of the Phillies’ Aaron Nola. Werth’s home run was his fifth of the year. Of his last 25 home runs, 16 have come on the road.
-Bryce Harper struggled for most of the series, but hit his 10th home run of the this afternoon. The blast off of Dillon Gee was the third of Harper’s career against the former Met. Only Tom Koehler of Miami (6) and Julio Teheran of Atlanta (5) have allowed more to the reigning National League MVP.
-Superb starting pitching efforts are becoming routine for Stephen Strasburg, who earned his fifth win in as many decisions on Wednesday as he allowed the Royals only two runs in six innings pitched. Strasburg’s WHIP on the season is at 1.00. His career best in a season where he’s qualified for the league’s ERA title was the 1.05 mark that he put up in 2013.
The Nats and the Cubs face off on Thursday night at Wrigley Field in the first of four games between the National League’s best teams so far in 2016. Harper is hitting .333 with a 1.174 OPS in his 27 career at bats at the home of the Cubs. Both Harper and Murphy have homered in their careers off of Thursday’s Chicago starter Kyle Hendricks, although the lanky righty is 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in his two career starts against the Nats.
Joe Ross takes the hill tomorrow against a powerful Cubs’ lineup. Perhaps his biggest challenge will come from all-star first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who is coming off a series in Pittsburgh where he had seven hits in 14 at bats with five doubles, a home run and three RBI.
Tanner Roark is not known as a strikeout pitcher but after today’s outing, maybe that will change. The Nats’ righthander fanned 15 Twins to pace Washington to a 2-0 victory this afternoon.
NATS RECORD- 13-4
WP- Roark (2-2) LP- Hughes (1-3) SV- Papelbon (7)
STARS OF THE GAME
Third Star- A Model of Efficiency
Situational reliever Oliver Perez may not be among the most well-known Nats by the casual fan, but his effort on Saturday helped keep Tanner Roark’s brilliant effort from going down the tubes. Entering the game in the top of the eighth with a man on, one out and the tying run at the plate, Perez retired Eddie Rosario on a fly ball to center on his first pitch and fanned the dangerous Joe Mauer on his next three to keep the Nats’ 2-0 lead in tact.
Second Star- Making Them Count
Ryan Zimmerman has been an all-star, a gold glove winner and a earned silver slugger awards while playing for the Nats. Over the past few years health issues have kept Zimmerman from achieving at his past levels, but he’s been a consistent run producer even when not totally himself.
In an injury plagued 2015 campaign Zim drove in 73 runs in only 95 games, and he showed his RBI form today as his two run first inning single gave Roark all the support he’d need to lead the Nats to victory. Zimmerman capped his fine day with a sterling play at first base on a smash by the talented Mauer for the first out of the top of the sixth inning.
Star of the Game- A Dominant Effort
Roark is often the forgotten man in the Nats’ talented rotation, but he was the center of everyone’s focus on Saturday. His 15 strikeouts were the most ever at Nationals Park, and he registered only the 14th game since 2005 where a pitcher has fanned at least 15 batters, allowed no runs and gave up two or fewer hits. That feat was done five different times last year, including twice by Roark’s teammate Max Scherzer.
Valiant in a Losing Cause
Minnesota’s Phil Hughes gave up only two runs on six hits in his seven innings of work. Showing his usual fine control and keeping the long ball from stinging him as it has often done in the past, Hughes kept his team in the game.
Bryce Harper’s two doubles on the game gave him 14 extra-base hits on the season, the high in the Major Leagues heading into Saturday evening’s games.
Washington’s win was its seventh straight at home this year. The Nats’ longest win streak in home games is 12, set from June 2, 2005 through June 25, 2005.
Last night, Twins’ rookie Miguel Sano impressed with his power bat. Today he had a day to forget in the batter’s box (he went 0 for 3 with three strikeouts), but he looked good at the hot corner. The large youngster made several fine plays at third base, the best being his effort to retire Anthony Rendon for the first out in the bottom of the eighth.
Stephen Strasburg takes the hill for the Nats tomorrow, looking for his fourth win in as many starts on the year. In his career, Strasburg is 7-3 with a 2.69 ERA in interleague games. He has fanned 108 batters in 80.1 innings pitched against American League teams. Minnesota’s young starter Tyler Duffey is slated to make his first start of the 2016 season. Last year, Duffey went 5-1 with a 3.20 ERA and allowed two or fewer earned runs in eight of his ten starts.