On September 24, 2016, the Nationals clinched the National League East with a 6-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. The victory gave Washington three division titles in five seasons, and assured that post-season baseball would be played in the Nation’s Capital in again. That division clinching game was the most memorable event in a month full of them. In this edition of “Nats by the Number”, we look at some of the other highlights of the last month of the regular season (thanks as always to baseball-reference.com’s play index for allowing easy access to statistical information on the Nats and all other baseball-related topics).
Rookie Reynaldo Lopez was the winning pitcher in the game that won the East for the Nats, throwing 5.1 innings of shutout relief to earn his fourth victory in seven decisions on the year. Lopez struck out six and allowed only three hits to become the second pitcher in Nationals’ history to throw 5.1 or more scoreless innings in relief in a game. The first time it happened came all the way back in 2005 under much less dramatic circumstances than did Lopez’s effort in the title clinching win. On May 13th of the Nats’ first season, Tomo Ohka stopped the bleeding with 5.2 scoreless innings pitched out of the pen in Washington’s 8-2 loss to Milwaukee.
Slender Trea Turner is known more for his speed and all around ability than he is for his power, but the rookie’s home run hitting ability was on display in a big way in the season’s final month. Turner hit eight home runs in the month to pace the Nationals and finish behind only Atlanta’s Matt Kemp (who had nine) for the most homers in the National League in the final month of the regular season.
Turner’s power outburst included two multi-home run games. On September 9th at Nationals Park, Turner hit a two run homer off of Philadelphia’s Colton Murray in the bottom of the seventh to give Washington a 4-1 lead and ended the contest with a game winning, ninth inning round tripper off of the Phils’ Frank Herrmann to put the Nats in the win column by a 5-4 score. Eight days later in Atlanta, Turner hit a pair of solo homers off of Atlanta’s Josh Collmenter.
On the season, Washington players had eight two run home run games. Like Turner, Ryan Zimmerman and Danny Espinosa had two such games each. Other Nationals with two homers in game in 2016 where National League MVP runner-up Daniel Murphy and outfielder Michael A. Taylor.
In an 11 game home stand in early September against the Phillies, Braves and Mets, the Nationals did what they had done all season long to their divisional rivals- they dominated them.
Washington won nine of the 11 contests to cement its spot at the top of the National League East. Included in the stretch were walk-off victories over the Braves on September 7th (on a Wilson Ramos hit) and the Phillies on September 9th (on a Trea Turner solo home run).
The Nationals also had two shutouts in the month. On September 10th, Washington defeated the Phillies 3-0 on the strength of excellent pitching by Max Scherzer and the Nats’ bullpen plus Bryce Harper’s eighth inning three run home that broke a scoreless tie.
Four days later, Tanner Roark won his 15th game of the year as he shut the Mets out over seven innings and got all the support he needed when Ramos hit a solo home run in the bottom of the seventh inning as the Nats won 1-0.
On the season, Washington was an amazing 41-16 in contests against the Braves, Phillies and Mets.
Closer Mark Melancon was the key pitcher in the Nats’ bullpen down the stretch but he received a lot of help from his bullpen mates, including righty Shawn Kelley.
In the season’s final 27 regular season games Kelley threw 10.1 scoreless innings, striking out 11 and allowing only one hit to finish his season with a flourish. Kelley won his only two decisions in the month and finished the 2016 campaign with an impressive WHIP of .897.
Jayson Werth’s two run pinch-hit home run off of former teammate Felipe Rivero helped Washington to a comeback 10-7 win at Pittsburgh on September 25th, and also helped Washington improve on its team record total for pinch-hit home runs in a season.
Werth’s dramatic blast was the 12th home run by a pinch-hitter in 2016 for the Nats, as the team easily shattered the 2006 squad’s record of eight. Washington’s total was the third highest in Major League Baseball, trailing only St. Louis (17) and the New York Mets (13).
Werth was one of three Nationals with more than one pinch-hit homer on the year. The veteran outfielder had two, while bench stalwarts Stephen Drew and Chris Heisey had three each. Other Nationals with pinch-hit homers in 2016 were rookie Pedro Severino, Clint Robinson, Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy.
Nats’ ace Max Scherzer was 5-0 in his six decisions in the season’s final month and ended up with 20 wins on the year. Scherzer became the second pitcher in Nats’ history with 20 or more wins (Gio Gonzalez won 21 in 2012) en route to his second Cy Young Award.
Scherzer struck out 46 batters in 39.1 innings pitched in his final six games, and ended with a National League high 284 punchouts on the year.
Third baseman Anthony Rendon hit only .247 in the season’s final 27 games, but he certainly made the hits he did have count. The talented Texan drove in a team high 23 runs in the month, tying Daniel Murphy (who had 23 in both May and July) for the most RBI in a month by a Nationals’ player in 2016. Bryce Harper led the way with 24 RBI in April.
Stephen Strasburg held Cincinnati hitless in 6.2 innings on July 3 as the Nationals routed the Reds 12-1. The start was the first of a month where the All-Star righthander would perform at an elite level.
NATS BY THE NUMBERS- July 2016
The Nationals won 13 of their 25 games in July, and their .520 winning percentage for the month was their lowest in the 2016 season. In the Nationals’ three division winning seasons, the only month where the team had a worse winning percentage was in May of 2014 when the Nats went 11-15 for a .423 mark.
Stephen Strasburg was arguably the Major League’s best starting pitcher in July 2016. The Nats’ stalwart went 4-1 with a 2.08 ERA and struck out 37 batters in 34.2 innings pitched. Among starters, Strasburg’s .779 WHIP in July was the best in the Majors ahead of Aaron Sanchez of Toronto (.824), Brandon McCarthy of the Dodgers (.835), San Francisco’s Madison Bumgarner (.861), Cincinnati’s Dan Straily (.861) and his teammate Max Scherzer (.882).
Daniel Murphy continued his hot hitting ways in July, putting up a 1.116 OPS with a .346 batting average, six homers and 23 RBI. Murphy had a 13 game hitting streak from July 7th through July 27th, and was particularly hard on his former teammates in New York during a crucial four game set at Citi Field in the early part of the month. In that series, Murphy went 7 for 17 with three homers, four runs and a whopping 10 RBI to lead the Nats to a 3-1 series win.
Top prospect Trea Turner was called to the Major Leagues for good in July, and his top level speed was on display immediately. Turner had three triples and seven steals (in seven attempts) in July as he served notice that the Nats’ search for an electric leadoff man was over.
After losing 9-7 to the Mets in the first game of a four game set in New York in the final series before the All-Star game, the thoughts of many Nats’ fans turned to 2015 when Washington was swept at Citi Field in late July in a series that changed the landscape at the top of the National League East.
With the Nats’ divisional lead down to three games the team’s superb pitching staff took over to give the Nats a six game cushion heading into the All-Star break, holding the Mets to a paltry four runs in the process.
On Friday the 8th, Strasburg allowed only two hits and fanned nine as he outdueled Noah Syndergaard in a 3-1 Nats’ win. The big blow at the plate for Washington came from Clint Robinson, who hit a two run homer off of the Mets’ ace.
It was Scherzer’s turn to excel on Saturday the 9th, as the veteran allowed only three hits, no earned runs and fanned nine to lead Washington to a 6-1 win. Murphy was the chief tormentor of the Mets among Nats’ hitters, as he went 3 for 4 with a double, home run and four RBI.
On Sunday the 10th, Gio Gonzalez (5.2 innings), Tanner Roark (2.1 perfect innings) and Jonathan Papelbon kept the Mets at bay while Murphy hit a two run homer as Washington won 3-2.
The July 4th fireworks spectacular is a staple of summertime in Washington DC and it is always an impressive show, but a show of equal impressiveness was put on by the Nationals one day before the Nation’s birthday celebration.
In a Sunday afternoon game at Nationals Park, Washington hit a season high six home runs in a 12-1 rout of the Reds. Wilson Ramos got the long-ball party started in the second with a solo homer off of John Lamb, and Danny Espinosa rocked the Reds two innings later with a grand slam off of Lamb that put the Nats up 5-0. One inning later, Bryce Harper’s solo off of Lamb gave Washington a 6-0 advantage. Anthony Rendon and Espinosa hit back to back homers off of Reds’ reliever Keyvins Sampson in the seventh inning to make the lead 11-0, and Stephen Drew provided the final homer of the game in the eighth with a solo shot off of Jumbo Diaz.
The contest was the fifth six homer game in Nationals’ history, and the first since August 29, 2014 when Washington hit six round-trippers in a 8 -3 win at Seattle.
Not all of the numbers were good for the Nats in July. Twice during the month the Nats’ pitching staff did something that had not been done by a Washington staff since 2010 by walking nine opponents in a nine inning game.
On July 7th, the Nats gave nine free passes to the Mets in a 9-7 New York win. On the 30th in San Francisco, Washington walked nine Giants’ batters as the Nats fell 5-3.
The most walks for a Nats’ staff in a nine inning game is 11, set on August 13, 2008 in a 12-0 loss to the Mets and equaled in a April 30, 2009 9-4 defeat at the hands of St. Louis.
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.
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.
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.
Stephen Strasburg retired the last 14 Phillies’ batters he faced on Friday night as the righty moved to 10-0 on the year in Washington’s 9-6 victory over their division rivals.
With two wins in three games against the White Sox in Chicago and two wins so far in their weekend series against the Phillies, this week has been a good one for the Nationals. The team’s record stands at 38-24, which is exactly where it was in 2012 after 62 games in Washington’s 98 win NL East Division Championship season. Of course the 2016 Nats hope to achieve more than just a division title, and there are signs that this year’s team could be better than the 2012 squad that brought five plus months of excitement to the Nation’s Capital.
THE WEEK’S HIGHLIGHTS
MOWING THEM DOWN
Stephen Strasburg was touched for four runs on Friday by the Phillies in the first three innings as the Nats fell behind by a 4-0 score, but that only seemed to serve to strengthen the resolve of the Major League Baseball wins co-leader (Jake Arrieta of the Cubs and Johnny Cueto of the Giants also have 10 victories). Strasburg retired the final 14 Phils he faced, striking out seven of them, to (with the help of the team’s bats) put Washington in the driver’s seat in the first game of the weekend series.
The 14 batters in a row retired by Strasburg marked the sixth time in his career where he’s retired at least that many batters in succession:
STRASBURG- MOST CONSECUTIVE OUTS RECORDED IN A GAME
Batters Retired Date Opp Notes
19 4/1/13 Mia Gave up leadoff hit and retired next 19 batters.
15 6/18/10 CWS First two batters had hits, then 15 in a row retired.
15 8/25/15 SD Retired last 15 batters he faced.
14 4/10/14 Mia Fanned six of the 14 he retired in a row.
14 4/19/15 Phl Retired 14 straight to start the game.
14 6/10/16 Phl Struck out seven during this stretch.
In his career, Strasburg has 32 instances where he has retired at least 10 batters consecutively.
GOON SQUAD II
Who says a sequel can never be as good as the original! The 2012 Nats, with their bench players dubbed the “Goon Squad” leading the way, posted a .786 OPS in pinch-hit appearances. That mark was the second highest in the Major Leagues. So far in 2016, Nationals’ pinch-hitters have put up a robust .995 OPS which is the third highest mark in the Majors. Washington’s eight pinch-hit homers trails only St. Louis (with 10).
Nats’ shortstop Danny Espinosa has been great with the glove in 2016, and he’s starting to show that he can be solid at the plate as well. Since May 1, Espinosa has nine homers and 17 RBI in 131 at bats. His 10 home runs on the year trails only Trevor Story of Colorado (16) and Corey Seager of the Dodgers (14) among National League shortstops. Espinosa had two three hit games over the past week, going 3 for 5 on June 8th against the White Sox and picking up three hits in four at bats in Friday’s win over the Phillies.
Espinosa did not play in Saturday’s 8-0 whitewashing of the Phillies, but another hot hitter did…reserve infielder Stephen Drew. Drew has six hits with 3 runs scored, a double, two home runs and six RBI in his last 12 at bats.
Veteran Jayson Werth has looked better both at the plate and in the field over the past weeks. Since May 29th, Werth has four home runs and 13 RBI in 37 at bats. He also made perhaps his best defensive play of the year on Friday night, ranging to his right and laying out to make the catch to rob Mikael Franco of an extra-base hit.
The Nats’ best hitters on the year have been probable 2016 National League All-Stars Daniel Murphy, Wilson Ramos and Bryce Harper. All three players currently sport OPS marks of .918 or better. In Nationals’ history, the only season in which two or more players were over .900 in OPS was in 2006 when Nick Johnson (.948) and Alfonso Soriano (.911) did the trick.
In Saturday’s win, Tanner Roark shut the Phillies out over seven innings pitched to earn his fifth win of the year and even picked up a RBI with a perfectly executed squeeze bunt in Washington’s four run second inning. In 2016, Roark has four games in which he has gone at least seven innings and allowed no runs. Of his career nine games fitting those parameters, seven (including all four in 2016) have come at Nationals Park.
ODDS AND ENDS
Through 62 games, the Nats’ 591 strikeouts is the most among National League pitching staffs. Strasburg (with 110) and Max Scherzer (107) are third and fourth in the league, trailing only Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers (132) and Jose Fernandez of Miami (118).
Tommy Joseph of the Phillies had two home runs in Friday night’s loss to the Nats, making him the second player to have a multiple home run game against Washington this year. Back on May 6th at Wrigley Field, Ben Zobrist hit two round-trippers in a Cubs win over the Nats. In 2015, there were 14 instances of a player having a multi-home run game against the Nats.
Today’s series finale against the Phillies will be played under the sun, which may not be a good thing for the already battered Phils’ staff. In day games in 2016, Bryce Harper has a 1.102 OPS, seven home runs and 16 RBI with Daniel Murphy checking in with a 1.007 OPS and 15 runs batted in. Games during the afternoon have also been good for Buffalo sightings as Wilson Ramos has a 1.091 OPS and five home runs in such contests.
Finally, happy 32nd birthday to former Nationals’ outfielder Roger Bernadina. Known for spectacular defense plays, including a game saving catch at Houston in 2012 which many observers believe is the best defensive play by an outfielder in Nats’ history, Bernadina is currently a Mets’ minor league player.
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.