Wilson Ramos douses teammate Jayson Werth with Gatorade after Werth’s RBI hit gave the Nationals a 12th inning 5-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs on June 15th.
The Nats posted a 16-11 record in June, a month that featured both highs and lows for a team that would end up with 95 wins on the year and its third National League East title in five seasons. In this edition of Nats by the Numbers, we look at some of the big moments and accomplishments from that month.
Left-handed Sammy Solis was picked by the Nationals in the second round of the 2010 Major League Baseball draft with the thought that he would someday find his spot in the team’s starting rotation. Injuries caused Solis’s career to go in another direction, and he made his debut in 2015 as a reliever. In June 2016, the Nats saw that Solis has the potential to be more than just another body in the bullpen.
Solis posted a 0.71 ERA in 12.2 innings in June, striking out 17 batters and allowing opponents a .947 WHIP in the process. Perhaps Solis’s shining moment in the month came on June 5, 2016, when he struck out six and allowed only one run in three innings to earn the win in Washington’s 10-9 win at Cincinnati.
Since his signing in the off-season before the 2011 campaign, Jayson Werth has been a leader in the clubhouse and on the field for the Nationals. In June, he showed that he still had some life left in his bat as he put up a .926 OPS with two homers and 14 RBI.
Werth also had two walk-off hits to give Washington thrilling comeback victories in June.
On June 12th, a Makiel Franco ninth inning home run off of struggling Nats’ closer Jonathan Papelbon put the Phillies up 4-3 and left Nats’ fans anxious. Werth put those fears to rest one half inning later, driving home Bryce Harper and Danny Espinosa with a two out single that gave Washington a 5-4 win.
Three days later, the Nats entered the bottom of the 12th inning down 4-3 to the eventual National League champion Chicago Cubs. After Michael A. Taylor tied the game with a hit, Werth performed some more two out magic as he scored Taylor from first on a booming blast that hit the scoreboard in right center and sent Nationals Park into a frenzy.
June saw the Nationals lose a season high seven games in a row, all on the road, from the 18th through the 25th of the month. Losses in the final two games of a four game series at San Diego were followed by a three game sweep at the hands of the Dodgers in Los Angeles, with two of the defeats coming in one run games. Two more losses followed in Milwaukee, before the Nats hung on to beat Milwaukee 3-2 on June 26th to right the ship. That win sent the Nats on a six game winning streak, including three in a row against divisional rival New York, and the Nats’ train was quickly back on the rails.
Shortstop Danny Espinosa hit .309 with a 1.122 OPS and nine home runs and 21 RBI in June. Espinosa’s biggest game came on the month’s final day, when he had a grand slam, a three run homer and drove in a career high seven runs in Washington’s 13-4 win over the Reds. The seven RBI performance was the second highest RBI total in Nats’ history, trailing only Josh Willingham’s eight runs driven in during a 2009 Nats’ win at Milwaukee.
The Nats tied a team record by scoring 10 or more runs in three consecutive games from June 5th through June 8th.
On the 5th, Daniel Murphy had three hits, three RBI, a homer and three runs scored and Wilson Ramos chipped in with three hits and two RBI as Washington beat the Reds 10-9.
Two days later in Chicago against the White Sox, Anthony Rendon and Bryce Harper drove in three runs each as Washington won 10-5.
On June 8th, Werth had three hits, four RBI and a homer, with Stephen Drew, Ryan Zimmerman and Espinosa also going deep in Washington’s 11-4 win over the ChiSox.
The only other time Washington has scored double digit runs in three or more games in row came in 2012, when Washington did the trick in a three game series at Coors Field against the Rockies.
Whether it was his off-season surgery on his eyes, overall general good health throughout the year or simply a result of hard work and determination, 2016 was a breakout campaign for Nats’ catcher Wilson Ramos. In May of the year Ramos posted a career high for hits in a month with 30, and he exceeded that mark in June by putting up 32 hits while hitting a robust .364 with six doubles, six home runs and 19 RBI.
Included in the month was a career tying four hit game at Milwaukee against the Brewers. The four hit game came during an 11 game hitting streak for the Nats’ catcher, a stretch where he went 18 for 47 and drove in seven runs.
Max Scherzer tied a Major League record with 20 strikeouts in a nine inning game in May of 2016, and he continued to punch batters out with regularity in June. Scherzer fanned 58 hitters in his six starts in the month, putting up 10 or more strikeouts in five of his six starts.
Included in the month were two of the best pitching performances of the year by a Nats’ hurler. On June 13th, Scherzer fanned 11 Cubs and registered an 80 pitching game score as the Nats won 4-1. At the end of the month on the 29th during Washington’s three game sweep of the Mets, Scherzer allowed only two hits and no runs while striking out 10 in Washington’s 4-2 win.
Wilson Ramos circles the bases on Sunday following his home run during the Nats’ five run fourth inning in Washington’s 10-9 victory over the Reds at the Great American Ballpark.
Nationals 10 Reds 9
WP- Solis (1-1) LP- Wright (0-1) SV- Papelbon (15)
HR- Murphy, Was (10), Ramos, Was (8), Bruce, Cin (13)
Former Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver used to call closer Don Stanhouse “Full Pack” because Stanhouse’s save attempts generally were not of the clean variety and often caused the nervous Weaver to smoke cigarette after cigarette to get through another close game. Nats’ manager Dusty Baker favors toothpicks over cigarettes, but perhaps yesterday’s nail biting victory caused him to go through more than his normal supply.
Washington closer Jonathan Papelbon faced down a bases loaded, no out situation with the winning run on second base, as the Nats salvaged the final game of their three game series at the Great American Ballpark. Say what you will about Papelbon’s tightrope acts, but no one can deny that the confident reliever has the guts of a burglar.
STARS OF THE GAME
Third Star– Like NFL cornerbacks, relief pitchers must forget their bad moments and move on to the next challenge. On Saturday, Nationals’ reliever Shawn Kelley surrendered the game winning three run homer to Cincinnati’s Adam Duvall that gave the Reds a 6-3 win. On Sunday, Kelley retired all five batters he faced to preserve Washington’s 10-8 lead.
Second Star- With starter Tanner Roark lasting only three innings, Washington needed someone from its bullpen to step up and fill the void. Sammy Solis was just the man for the job, throwing three scoreless innings and striking out a career high six batters to earn his first win of the season. The lefty has 20 strikeouts in 17 innings pitched on the season, and has held opponents to a .94 WHIP.
Star(s) of the Game- After scuffling at the plate for the first two games of the series in the Queen City, the Nats’ bats came alive on Sunday with the heart of the order doing most of the damage. Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and Wilson Ramos combined for nine hits, seven runs scored and five runs driven in to pace Washington’s 10 run attack. With each member of the trio getting three hits on the game, the Nats picked up their second game of the season where three players each had three or more hits. On May 4th at Kansas City in the Nats’ 13-2 win, Murphy (with four safeties), Ramos and Ryan Zimmerman did the trick.
Valiant in Defeat- Reds’ outfielder Jay Bruce homered for the second consecutive game and for the fifth time in his last 10 contests. His three run homer brought the Reds from 10-5 to within two runs of the lead, and set the stage for the wild and woolly bottom of the ninth innings.
The combined 19 runs scored was the most in a Nats’ game this season. The last time Washington was involved in a game more more combined runs was on August 18th of last season when the Nats topped Colorado 15-6.
Ben Revere had two hits, scored a run and had a RBI on the game, breaking a 23 at bat hitless streak in the process.
June 6th is known as D-Day but for the Nats’, it is B-day! Current Nats Anthony Rendon and Matt Belisle, along with former National Collin Balestar, celebrate birthdays today.
Nats’ Killer Martin Prado congratulates teammate Miguel Rojas after he scored one of the seven runs Miami plated against Washington in the Marlins’ victory over the Nats on Saturday evening.
NATIONALS’ RECORD- 23-14
WP- Urena (1-0) LP- Roark (2-3)
HR- Bour, Mia (6)
STARS OF THE GAME
Third Star- Justin Bour
The former George Mason University ballplayer drilled a long home run off of Nats’ starter Tanner Roark in the third inning for his sixth career home run against Washington and his fifth career blast at Nationals Park.
Second Star- Jose Urena
The slender Miami reliever threw three solid innings, allowing only two hits and one run, to earn his second career victory. Urena’s effort came on the heels of his throwing 23 pitches in an inning of work in the first game of the day/night doubleheader.
Star of the Game- Marcel Ozuna
The multi-talented Marlins’ outfielder was 3 for 5 on the game, with two runs, two RBI and his third triple of the season.
Valiant in Defeat- Sammy Solis
With starter Tanner Roark leaving the game after five tough innings, the Nats needed some innings from their bullpen and Solis did the job. The lefty threw three hitless innings, striking out three and walking only one, to give most of the rest of the bullpen the evening off.
Marlins’ infielder Martin Prado has been a thorn in Washington’s side since his days in Atlanta, and the veteran continued his success against the Nats on Saturday evening. He went 3 for 4 with a run scored, moving his career batting average against Washington to .314 in 440 career at bats.
So far in 2016, the Marlins have been the one team Nats’ starter Roark has not been able to figure out. In three starts against Miami, Roark has allowed 14 earned runs in 15 innings pitched. In his other 34.1 innings pitched on the season, Roark has allowed only three earned runs.
Nats’ hitting machine Daniel Murphy was 2 for 4 on the game, marking the 19th multi-hit game of the year for the infielder. In games at Nationals Park this year, Murphy is hitting .422 with a 1.082 OPS.