Rookie Reynaldo Lopez allowed only one run in seven innings pitched to earn his first Major League win in Washington’s 7-6 victory over Atlanta on Saturday evening at Nationals Park. The win and Miami’s loss to the Chicago White Sox at Marlins Park moved the Nats’ lead in the National League East to 8.5 games.
NATS’ RECORD 68-47
Nationals 7 Braves 6
WP- Lopez (1-1) LP- Whalen (1-1) SV- Melancon (33)
HR- Freeman, Atl (22), Murphy, Was (22), Turner, Was (3)
STARS OF THE GAME
Third Star- Hitting in the second spot in the lineup, centerfielder Ben Revere went 2 for 4 with two triples and a RBI. He also made a superb catch on an Erick Aybar drive in the top of the first inning, and started a perfect relay that cut down Aybar trying to stretch a double into a triple to record a crucial out in the top of the ninth inning.
Second Star- Another game, another outstanding performance by Nats’ rookie Trea Turner. The exciting leadoff man went 3 for 5 with a triple, a homer and scored three runs to pace Washington’s attack. Turner now has a team leading 11 runs scored so far in August.
Star of the Game- 22 year old first year Major Leaguer Reynaldo Lopez showed the poise of a veteran hurler on Saturday, allowing only one run in seven strong innings to earn his first Major League win. Improved command was key for the hard-throwing righthander, as Lopez threw 71 of his 100 pitches for strikes and allowed only two walks.
Valiant in Defeat- Freddie Freeman was the main man again for the Braves, going 1 for 3 with a homer and two walks. The man Nats’ fans least like to see at the plate in crucial moments also nearly tied the game in the top of the ninth inning, flying out deep to rightfield on a drive that had the collective hearts of Nats’ fans in their throats.
The contest marked the fifth time in Nats’ history that the team has had three or more triples in a game. Prior to Saturday evening, the last time the Nats’ had three three-baggers in a game came on April 14, 2014 in Miami when Bryce Harper, Danny Espinosa and Anthony Rendon all tripled in Washington’s 9-2 over the Marlins. The first three triple game by the Nats came against Atlanta, back on April 13, 2005 when Jamey Carroll, Jose Vidro and Termell Sledge each had a three-bagger in Washington’s 11-4 win at Turner Field.
With his two triples last evening, Revere became the fourth player in Nats’ history to triple twice in game. The last player to do so before Saturday was Denard Span, who did so on May 31, 2013 in Washington’s 3-2 victory at Atlanta.
The Nats’ two home runs in last night’s win gave them 152 on the year, the fifth highest total Washington has registered in a season. The team high for home runs in a season was set in 2012 when Washington had 194 round-trippers.
Daniel Murphy had four RBI and his 22nd home run of the year on Saturday. He has 86 RBI on the year, second only to Colorado’s Nolan Arenado (who has 93) in the National League.
The Nats’ Tanner Roark takes on Atlanta’s Tyrell Jenkins in the rubber game of the three game set.
Roark is 4-1 with a 1.78 ERA in his career against the Braves, but several Atlanta players have fared well against him. A.J. Pierzynski has seven hits in 10 career at bats against Roark with a double and two homers, while Matt Kemp is 3 for 6 with a pair of round-trippers.
Jenkins is 2-2 with a 3.92 ERA in his rookie campaign but has pitched well in his last three starts, allowing only two earned runs in 18 innings pitched.
San Francisco’s Eduardo Nunez and Brandon Belt celebrate the Giants’ 7-1 win over the Nationals on Saturday evening at Nationals Park.
Giants 7 Nationals 1
Nationals’ Record- 65-45
WP- Cain (4-6) LP- Strasburg (15-2)
HR- Belt, SF (13)
STARS OF THE GAME
Third Star- It is well established that San Francisco’s Buster Posey is one of the best all-around players in the National League. Posey’s skills were on display on Saturday night at Nationals Park as he went 2 for 3 with two RBI to aid the Giants’ seven run attack. Posey’s 2016 WAR to date of 3.3 is tops among Major League catchers, with the Nats’ Wilson Ramos (2.9), Jonathan Lucroy of Texas (2.8) and Kansas City’s Salvador Perez (2.7) next.
Second Star- In years past, Giants’ Saturday starter Matt Cain was an all-star. These days the gutty veteran is trying to work his way back to that status, but don’t tell the Nationals that he’s lost his game. Cain defeated the Nats for the second time in a week, shutting them out over five innings pitched to earn his fourth win in ten decisions on the year.
Star of the Game- Eduardo Nunez put on a show on Saturday night, going 4 for 5, scoring three runs and picking up three extra-base hits (two triples and a double) in San Francisco’s win. Nunez’s two three-baggers marked only the fifth time a Nats’ opponent has had multiple triples in a game. It was the first such game since September 7th of 2012, when the Marlins’ Jose Reyes tripled twice in Miami’s 9-7 win at Nationals Park. Nunez also contributed a fine defensive play, as he corralled a hot shot of off the bat of Washington’s Jayson Werth in the fourth inning to begin the turning of a key double play that helped keep Washington scoreless.
Valiant in Defeat- Line drives were coming off the bat of Washington’s Wilson Ramos all night long, as the hot hitting catcher went 3 for 4 in his team’s defeat. Ramos also scored the Nats’ only run on the night.
Stephen Strasburg only lasted 4.2 innings on the night, marking his shortest outing of his All-Star year. He surrendered a season high four extra base hits in the game, but did strike out eight to mark the 12th time he’s had eight or more strikeouts in a game this season. Strasburg also had Washington’s only extra-base hit on the night, picking up a fourth inning double. The double was Strasburg’s first since July 1st of 2014.
Danny Espinosa had two hits and a RBI in the contest, marking the second time in his last three games that he’s had multiple hits. Prior to these games, Espinosa had multiple hits in only one of the prior 22 contests.
The Nats and Giants have played six times so far in 2016, with each team winning three times. The tie will be broken on Sunday, as Giants’ ace Madison Bumgarner takes on Washington’s underrated 11 game winner Tanner Roark in the rubber game of the series.
Bumgarner is 10-6 on the year with a sparkling 2.25 ERA, but he’s not fared well at Nationals Park in the past. He is 1-3 at the home of the Nats, and has allowed five home runs in his last 14 innings pitched at the park. Bumgarner also has not been as effective on the road (1.268 WHIP) as he’s been at home (.827 WHIP) so far in 2016.
Roark is 6-3 with a 2.84 ERA in his career in August. Hunter Pence (0-7) and Angel Pagan (0-6) have struggled against Roark in their careers, while Posey (4-11, two doubles) and Brandon Belt (3-6 with a double and homer in the regular season, plus a heart breaking home run in the 18th inning of game two of the 2014 NLDS) have not.
Max Scherzer allowed only one run in seven innings pitched on Friday night to lead the Nats to a 4-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants. The win was Scherzer’s 11th of the year in 17 decisions, and the 61st of the season for the Nationals.
There have been few weeks like this one in Nationals’ history. It started off with heart-breaking losses on Sunday and Tuesday where the Nats’ bullpen imploded, got back on track with three dominant pitching performances against potential playoff teams including one game where the Nats pulled off the first triple play in team history, and ended with an acquisition of a dominant closer who is tasked with giving the Nats the late inning stability they need to avoid the pitfalls they had in 2012 and 2014.
Here’s a look at the good and bad from the past week.
Last Sunday at Nationals Park, the Nats were up 6-4 on San Diego heading into the top of eighth inning. Two innings later, Washington was on the wrong end of a 10-6 score in what may have been the most disappointing loss of the season to date. The Padres climbed back into the game in the top of the eighth on the strength of solo home runs by Alex Dickerson and Ryan Schimpf off of Shawn Kelley, and then broke things open with four runs off of Jonathan Papelbon in the top of the ninth. The game marked the first time Washington has allowed two home runs in an eighth inning since that fateful day last September 9th when the Mets homered off of Stephen Strasburg and Drew Storen to help turn a 2-1 Washington lead into a 5-3 Mets’ victory.
Anthony Rendon may be a native of Houston, Texas, but Cleveland seems to be the Nats’ third baseman’s home away from home. On Tuesday, Rendon went 3 for 4 with two runs scored, a double and a home run in Washington’s 7-6 loss to the Indians. Even after going 0 for 3 in Wednesday’s contest, Rendon is 9 for 16 with four runs, three doubles, two homers, three RBI and a 1.713 OPS in games played at Progressive Field.
A CALL TO ARMS
Again this week, Stephen Strasburg, Tanner Roark and Max Scherzer showed the baseball world why no team may be as equipped as the Nationals to dominate the post-season with superb starting pitching. Washington’s three victories on the week came in games where the terrific trio combined to throw 21 innings while allowing only two runs on 12 hits. The three games give the Nats’ a National League high 25 contests on the year where a Washington starter has thrown at least seven innings while allowing one run or fewer. Scherzer leads the way with eight such games, followed by Roark’s seven and Strasburg’s five.
A BUFFALO BLAST
Last Sunday’s loss to the Padres was a major downer, but the game did feature an event that none who watched will soon forget. In the bottom of the third inning, Wilson Ramos launched a home run deep to left field off of San Diego’s Christian Friedrich that almost cleared the outfield seats. Ramos’ blast measured at 455 feet, making it the longest at Nationals Park this season. After homering in Cleveland later the week, Ramos now has 15 home runs and is only one short of his career high of 16 set in 2013.
A CHILD SHALL LEAD THEM
Trea Turner looks like he’s 16 years old, runs like the wind and is a versatile athlete who appears at home in both the infield and outfield. On the week Turner was 10 for 22 with four runs, two doubles, three RBI and four steals, and may be on the way to solving the leadoff hitter production issue the Nats have had so far in 2016.
AN ENEMY OF OUR ENEMY IS OUR FRIEND
The Nats’ September schedule, like that of all teams, is laden with games against divisional opponents. Newly acquired closer Mark Melancon seems ready and able to help shut down the Nats’ foes, as he has fared extremely well against them in his career: career:
OPPONENT W/L IP ERA SVS WHIP
Atlanta 2-1 15 1.80 5 1.000
Miami 0-0 14.1 0.63 6 0.767
NY Mets 2-0 17 2.12 8 0.882
Philadelphia 0-0 18.1 0.98 8 1.036
The Nats look to win their third game out of four against the Giants in San Francisco today, with Gio Gonzalez going up against Matt Cain.
Gonzalez is 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA so far in July, after struggling to a 1-4 record and 6.95 ERA in June. The Giants’ fan base is extremely charged up against the return of fan favorite Hunter Pence on Saturday but if history is a guide, Sunday may not be a great day for the talented outfielder. In 16 career at bats against Gonzalez, Pence has only two hits. In a smaller sample size, Pence’s outfield mate Angel Pagan has done well against Gonzalez putting up four hits in eight at bats.
At one time, Cain was one of the best pitchers in baseball but injuries appear to have reduced his effectiveness greatly. He has allowed 81 hits and 13 home runs this season in 65 innings pitched, and has surrendered 12 runs and five homers over 11 .1 innings pitched over his last three starts. Jayson Werth is 5 for 10 on his career with a homer against Cain, while Danny Espinosa has homered twice in 12 at bats against him.
Bryce Harper’s mammoth two run home run off of Los Angeles’ Bud Norris on Wednesday July 20th helped Washington to an 8-1 victory over the Dodgers.
The weather in Washington is heating up, while its baseball team is going through a bit of a relatively, albeit with a limited sample size, cold spell. The Nats have dropped three of their last four games, including two of three to the Los Angeles Dodgers, as they head into this weekend’s series with San Diego. Despite the mini-slide, Washington still is holding down a 4.5 game lead in the National League East with an impressive 57-39 record.
Here’s some notes of interest from the past four games, with thanks to baseball-reference.com’s Play Index and the ESPN Home Run Tracker (two sites a baseball fan can’t live without) for the information.
LET’S PLAY TWO…..BUT IT ONLY COUNTS AS ONE
Sunday’s Nats’ 2-1 loss in 18 innings to Pittsburgh was the longest game by innings played in team history. The previous high was 16 innings, set on June 24, 2014 in a Nats’ 4-2 win over Milwaukee at Miller Park and equaled earlier this year in Washington’s thrilling 6-5 win over Minnesota. With the loss, the Nats are 4-4 this season in extra-inning games. Washington is 87-90 in games that have gone long, with a 46-44 mark in such games played at home.
A RARE EVENT FOR AN OPENING ACT
Highly touted youngster Reynaldo Lopez made his Major League debut on Tuesday against the Dodgers and was hit hard, allowing six runs and 10 hits in 4.2 innings pitched. Still there were bright spots for the hard-throwing righty, including his striking out nine Dodger batters. According to the Baseball Reference play index, Lopez is the first pitcher from 1913 until today who had nine plus strikeouts, 10 plus hits allowed and six plus runs allowed in his Major League debut. Two other pitchers have achieved the dubious feat so far in 2016. The Yankees’ Michael Pineda gave up seven runs with ten hits allowed while striking out nine in New York’s 8-1 loss to Tampa on April 24th, while former National Jordan Zimmermann gave up eight runs and 11 hits while fanning nine in seven innings pitched on May 16th in a 10-8 Tigers’ win over Minnesota.
On July 20, 1969, United States’ astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. 47 years later at Nationals Park, Bryce Harper hit a ball that looked to be headed for a lunar landing.
Harper’s first innings blast off of the Dodgers’ Bud Norris was the longest home run hit at Nationals Park so far this year, measuring 449 feet according to the ESPN HR tracker. Four of the five longest homers hit at the Nats’ home this year have come this month:
BATTER DATE DISTANCE
Harper, Was July 20 449
Ramos, Was April 14 445
Harper, Was July 3 441
Rendon, Was July 20 440
Maldonado, Mil July 4 438
The Nats had four home runs in their 8-1 win on the 20th, marking the 53rd time Washington has hit four or more round-trippers in a game. The team has seven four plus homer games in 2016, the second highest single season total for Washington since 2005. The 2013 squad had 11 four plus homer games.
RANDY NEWMAN, YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY ONE
Singer/songwriter Randy Newman made the song “I Love LA” a hit, and Washington starter Gio Gonzalez may well have been humming a few bars of the tune following another strong performance against the team from Tinseltown on Wednesday. Gonzalez allowed only one run and three hits in six strong innings pitched to earn his third win in four career decisions against the Dodgers. Gonzalez has fanned 34 Dodgers in 32 innings pitched against them in his career, while posting a sparking 1.69 ERA.
AS EASY AS ONE, TWO, THREE
Nats’ rookie Trea Turner tripled twice in the Dodgers’ series, using his top-level speed to navigate around the bases seemingly with ease. Turner’s three baggers in back to back nights on Tuesday and Wednesday marked the fifth time a Nats’ player has had triples in back to back games:
PLAYER DATES OPPONENT
Trea Turner 7/19-20, 2016 LAD
Dan Uggla 4/27-2/28, 2015 @ ATL
Rick Ankiel 5/25-5/26, 2012 @ ATL
Roger Bernadina 5/22-5/23, 2010 BAL
Christian Guzman 5/13-5/14, 2007 Fl (5/13), ATL (5/14)
STRIKEOUTS TIMES TEN
Thursday’s 6-3 loss to the Dodgers marked Stephen Strasburg’s first loss of the year, but the All-Star ace did strike out 10 batters (including eight of 10 at one point) in the contest. Strasburg now has 29 10 plus strikeout games in his career, including eight so far in 2016. The Nats have 77 10 plus strikeout pitching performances since 2005, with Max Scherzer (18) and Gonzalez (10) next in line behind Strasburg’s total.
The Nationals look to get back to their winning ways tonight against San Diego at Nationals Park, with Tanner Roark facing the Padres’ Luis Perdomo.
The two finest games of Roark’s career, at least as indicated by the Pitching Game Score statistic, came against the Padres in 2014. On April 26th, Roark threw a complete game three hit shutout in a 4-0 Washington win with the Nats’ righty posting an 88 PGS. On June 6th at San Diego, Roark put up an 87 PGS as he allowed three hits in eight innings pitched while striking out 11 in Washington’s 6-0 win.
Perdomo has struggled mightily so far in 2016, as he’s put up a 7.36 ERA with a ghastly 1.952 WHIP in 69.2 innings pitched. Only Baltimore’s Ubaldo Jiminez (with a 1.971 mark) has a worse WHIP for Major League pitchers with more than 69 innings pitched this year.
The match-up features teams who bring power bats to the plate. The Nats are tied with St. Louis for the most home runs in the National League with 132, while San Diego’s 112 four baggers ranks sixth in the league. Matt Kemp and Wil Myers lead the Pads with 20 homers each, while Melvin Upton has 16. The older Upton brother has resurrected his career while playing in San Diego after struggling mightily in Atlanta. From 2013 through 2014 while a Brave, Upton posted a -2.1 WAR total. For San Diego in 2015 and 2016 to date, Upton’s combined WAR is 3.6.
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.
Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals picked up right where they left off before the All-Star break, as the Nationals defeated Pittsburgh 5-1 to start the post-All Star break portion of the season with a big win.
Nationals 5 Pirates 1
Nationals’ Record 55-36
WP- Strasburg (13-0) LP- Liriano (5-9)
HR- Taylor, Was (7)
STARS OF THE GAME
Third Star- Michael A. Taylor’s home run to right-center off of Pirates’ hard-throwing reliever Neftali Feliz gave the Nats a four run lead and with Stephen Strasburg on the mound, the deficit probably seemed like 44 to Clint Hurdle and the Pirates. Taylor’s home run was his first since he hit two round trippers in a June 19th game at San Diego. Taylor now has three career home runs against the Pirates, more than he’s had against any teams other than the Phillies and Marlins (he also has three against each of those teams).
Second Star- Filling in for an injured Daniel Murphy, Clint Robinson had two hits and drove in a run out of the eight hole in Dusty Baker’s lineup to help Washington to victory. Robinson has 19 RBI in only 97 at bats on the year, making him the only player in the Majors with that many RBI and fewer than 107 at bats.
Star of the Game- As he’s been for most of the 2016 season, All-Star Stephen Strasburg was on his game last night as he earned his 13th win in as many decisions on the year. Strasburg allowed only three hits and one run in eight innings pitched, posting a pitching game score of 76 that was his second highest on the year (he had an 84 PGS on April 19th at Miami). Strasburg allowed one or fewer earned runs for the eighth time in 17 starts on the season, and for the 70th time in his 148 career starts.
Valiant in Defeat- Poor defense and perhaps some fatigue from pitching in hot conditions were his undoing in the Nats’ four run seventh inning, but Pittsburgh’s Francisco Liriano pitched well for most of his outing. The lefty retired the first nine Nationals he faced, and had allowed only one run and four hits through six innings before the rug was pulled out from under him in the seventh inning.
Reliever Shawn Kelley pitched the ninth inning for Washington, and recorded all three outs on strikeouts. It was the eighth time in Kelley’s career, and the second time as a National, where Kelley has pitched one inning and all of his outs were strikeouts. On the season, Kelley has 52 strikeouts in only 33.2 innings pitched. For pitchers with 30 or more innings pitched this season, Kelley’s 13.9 SO/9 rate trails only Dellin Betances of the Yankees (15.9), Betances’ teammate Andrew Miller 15.79) and Miami’s Kyle Barraclough (15.0).
Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates each stole a base in the game, making last night only the seventh time this season where a Nats’ opponent has stolen two or bases in a game. The Nats have allowed on 32 steals on the year, the fourth best mark in the National League. Arizona is first in that category with only 27 steals allowed, followed by San Francisco (29) and Miami (31).
The Nats’ win last night was their 10th in 14 games played on Fridays so far this season. The best day of the week so far for Washington is Wednesday, with the Nats’ posting a 11-3 record on that day. Washington is also 10-4 on Sundays.
The Nats look to earn a series win tonight with Tanner Roark taking on Pirates’ hard-thrower Gerrit Cole.
Roark has generally been very effective in his career after the All-Star break, posting a 14-8 record with a 2.77 ERA. He’s also excelled in his career at Nationals Park, going 16-10 with a 2.78 ERA.
Cole is 5-4 with a 2.77 ERA on the season, but there are some warning signs that point to potential problems for the Pirates’ ace. He’s allowed a 1.317 WHIP this year against a career mark of 1.168, and his SO/9 ratio of 7.2 is down from the numbers he put up over the past two seasons (in 2014 Cole’s SO/9 rate was 9.0, and he put up a 8.7 rate in 2015). One National who is glad to see Cole in town is outfielder Ben Revere. In 12 career at bats against Cole, Revere has seven hits.
Righthander Tanner Roark threw seven scoreless innings on Sunday to pace the Nationals to a 3-2 victory that ended Washington’s grueling seven game losing streak on the team’s road trip from Hades.
A 3-7 road trip is nothing to write home about, especially when seven of the games were played against sub-par San Diego and Milwaukee teams. However the difficult trip did have a happy ending, as Tanner Roark’s pitching and power from unusual sources led Washington to a 3-2 victory and a three game lead in the National League East heading into a showdown series against the Mets at Nationals Park.
Nationals 3 Brewers 2
Nationals Record- 44-32
WP- Roark (7-5) LP- Barnes (0-1) SV- Kelley (3)
HR- Lobaton, Was (1), Robinson, Was (3), Maldonado, Mil (2)
STARS OF THE GAME
Third Star- Reserve first baseman/outfielder Clint Robinson doesn’t have flashy numbers, but he passes the eye test when looking for good at bats from a bench player. His two run homer to right field off of Milwaukee reliever Michael Blazek in the eighth inning gave Washington a 3-0 lead, a cushion they’d need when the bullpen surrendered runs in both the eighth and ninth innings.
Second Star- No one doubts Nats’ backup catcher Jose Lobaton’s ability as a defensive player and pitch framer, but he’s not known as much of an offensive threat. Today Lobaton excelled with both the glove and the bat, as his home run to left-center broke a scoreless tie in the seventh inning and gave Washington a lead it would not lose. The homer was the first of the year for Lobaton, and the first he’s hit since June 28, 2015 when he hit a round-tripper at Citizens Bank Park against the Phillies.
Star of the Game- Starting a day earlier than expected due to Stephen Strasburg’s injury, Tanner Roark threw seven innings of scoreless ball to lead Washington to victory. Roark has five games this season in which he’s thrown at least seven innings and allowed no runs, tying him with Chicago’s Jake Arrieta for the National League lead in that category. Roark is now 7-5 with a sterling 2.96 ERA on the year.
Valiant in Defeat- Ryan Braun, Jonathan Lucroy and Chris Carter had two hits a piece for Milwaukee, but the big blow for the home team was a two-out, ninth inning mammoth pinch-hit home run by Martin Maldonado that kept the Brewers’ hopes alive. The home run was the backup backstop’s second of the season.
Washington’s Shawn Kelley earned his third save of the year, working 1.1 innings, striking out three and stranding the tying run on third base to end the game. In 9.2 innings pitched in June, the righthanded reliever has 16 strikeouts.
Prior to the home runs by Lobaton and Robinson, it looked like another “missed it by that much” day for the Nats in terms of the long ball. In the fifth inning with the bases loaded, Bryce Harper narrowly missed hitting a grand slam home run as Milwaukee’s Kirk Nieuwenhuis grabbed Harper’s blast to the deepest part of center to keep the game scoreless.
Joe Ross takes the hill tomorrow night at Nationals Park against the Mets. In his career at the home of the Nationals, the talented youngster is 6-4 with a 2.92 ERA and has held opponents to a paltry .596 OPS.
Ross’s opponent on the mound will be New York’s talented and towering righty Noah Sydergaard, who is 8-2 with a 2.08 ERA and 10.9 strikeouts per nine innings pitched this year. Anthony Rendon (4-10 with a double and a homer) has fared well against Syndergaard in the past, while Danny Espinosa (0-6, four strikeouts) has not.