Nats’ killer Freddie Freeman celebrates his three run home run with Atlanta starting pitcher Mike Foltynewicz in last night’s Braves 8-5 victory at Nationals Park over Washington.
Nationals Record- 67-47
Braves 8 Nationals 5
WP- Foltynewicz (6-5) LP- Strasburg (15-3) SV- Johnson (10)
HR- Peterson, Atl (6), Freeman, Atl (22), Recker, Atl (1), Rendon, Was (14
STARS OF THE GAME
Third Star- Since he’s joined the Braves, catcher Anthony Recker has been among the most productive backstops in the National League, posting a .349 average with eight RBI in 43 at bats. He hit his first home run of the year last night, drilling a long home run to left-center off of Matt Belisle to pad Atlanta’s lead.
Second Star- Braves’ second baseman Jace Peterson is known more for his speed than for his power, but he showed that he can hit with the big boys last night. Peterson hit a soaring home run to right-center off of Nats’ starter Stephen Strasburg to give Atlanta a 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning for his sixth round tripper of the year. Peterson also drove home Atlanta’s final run with a seventh inning sacrifice fly.
Star of the Game- Atlanta’s talented Freddie Freeman appears to be an affable individual, but to the Nationals he resembles Freddie Krueger. The first baseman slashed the Nats yet again, going 2 for 3 with a run scoring double and a three run homer to pace Atlanta’s winning attack. In his career at Nationals Park, Freeman is hitting a robust .324. After struggling due to injuries at the start of the 2016 campaign, the left-handed swinger now has an impressive .906 OPS on the year.
Valiant in Defeat- All teams want their leadoff hitters to reach base consistently, and Washington’s Trea Turner did just that on Friday night. The speedy Nats’ rookie went 3 for 5 with a run scored and two stolen bases from the top spot in Washington’s order. Turner is now hitting .301 on the year.
Strasburg gave up a season high five extra base hits in the contest, giving him nine extra-base hits allowed in his last two starts (both of them losses). In his seven starts prior to last weekend’s appearance against San Francisco, Strasburg had allowed a total of nine extra base hits.
Speaking of extra-base hits, Washington’s leaders in that category all checked in to pad their totals last night. Nats’ extra-base hit leader Daniel Murphy had his 34th double of the year to pad his XBH total on the year to 60, Anthony Rendon hit his 14th homer of the year to give him 43 XBHs on the season and Jayson Werth’s double put his XBH total at 39.
The Nats surrendered three homers to Atlanta last night, marking only the sixth time in 2016 that Washington has given up three or more homers in a game. Not surprisingly, Washington is 0-6 in those contests. Only the New York Mets (with five) have fewer three plus home runs allowed games in 2016 among National League teams.
The Nats’ loss did not hurt their position in the National League East, as both Miami and the Mets lost last evening as well. With 48 games left to play, Washington holds a healthy 7.5 game advantage over the Marlins.
Rookie hurlers battle in steamy DC this evening, as Atlanta’s Robert Whalen and the Nats’ Reynaldo Lopez both make their third career starts.
Whalen is 1-0 in his two starts, defeating Pittsburgh in his debut game and getting a no decision on August 8th despite pitching well (six innings, three runs, seven strikeouts) in Atlanta’s 4-3 win at Milwaukee.
Fireballing righty Lopez has been erratic in his first two starts, allowing 14 hits and walking six in 8.2 innings pitched, but he has shown an ability to get the strikeout as he’s fanned 13 batters.
Gio Gonzalez was dominant last night, holding the San Francisco Giants to two hits and one run to lead Washington to a 5-1 victory in the first game of a three game set between division leaders.
Nationals 5 Giants 1
Nats’ Record: 65-44
WP- Gonzalez (7-9) LP- Samardzija (9-8)
HR- Turner, Was (2), Ramos, Was (17), Pagan, SF (8)
STARS OF THE GAME
Third Star– Wilson Ramos certainly picked a good time to have a career year. The soon to be free agent continued to prove that he’s in line for a big payday at some point soon, hitting his career high 17th home run and plating a run on a sacrifice fly to help the Nats to victory. Ramos’ two RBI game left him only seven short of his career high 68 RBI, set in the 2015 season.
Second Star- For months prior to the 2016 Major League trade deadline, we’d been reading and hearing that Trea Turner was not available for a deal. We’re now seeing why that was the case. The rising star went 2 for 4 with a double, a home run and two runs scored as he continued to show that the Nats’ problem at the top of the batting order may be solved. On the season, Turner has posted an impressive .896 OPS in his 81 at bats.
Star of the Game- Gio Gonzalez was at the top of his game on Friday night, holding the Giants to two hits and one run in seven excellent innings pitched. Gonzalez worked fast, was efficient and showed the form he displayed in his 21 win season in 2012. In picking up his seventh win on the year Gonzalez posted a 75 pitching game score, the best PGS he’s had since an 85 score he earned in a 3-0 victory over the New York Mets at Nationals Park on September 25, 2014.
Valiant in Defeat- It was another forgettable night for the slumping Giants, but Angel Pagan provided some highlights with a laser shot home run to left field (his eighth of the season) and several fine plays in left field.
Bryce Harper and Ramos had sacrifice flies in the game, giving Washington 46 on the season. With 53 games left to play, the Nats are only five short of the Nats’ record 51 run scoring fly balls that was set in 2015. Harper is the team leader in sacrifice flies this season with eight, with Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth, Daniel Murphy and Clint Robinson next with five each.
Denard Span was 1 for 4 for San Francisco in his return to Nationals Park, and it was nice to see the talented and likeable center fielder get a warm reception from the Nationals’ faithful. Span Span now as 11 hits in his last 28 at bats since July 29th.
Stephen Strasburg has been money in the bank for the Nats so far in 2016, and he looks to continue his winning ways as he takes on San Francisco’s Matt Cain in the second game of the series tonight at Nationals Park.
Strasburg has pitched well in August over his career, posting a 13-4 record with a 3.04 ERA. In his career against the Giants, he’s 3-1 with a 2.79 ERA. The Giants’ talented duo of Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford have hit Strasburg well over their careers. Posey is 7 for 20 with two doubles, while Crawford has six hits in 16 at bats.
Cain won the 100th game of his career last Sunday against the Nationals, gutting out a five inning start in which he did not allow a hit or a run while walking four batters. He’s 2-2 with a 4.11 ERA in his career at Nationals Park, with 37 hits allowed (including four homers) in 30 innings pitched.
In recent years, trips to Arizona have been very productive. The Nationals continued that trend this week, as sterling efforts by Stephen Strasburg and many others led to a three game sweep of the scuffling Diamondbacks. The sweep gave Washington a season high seven game lead in the National League East.
A trip to Arizona in the middle of summer means heat and lots of it. For the Nationals this week, a visit to Chase Field was just what the doctor ordered to get their bats heated up.
The Nationals scored at will in the three game set, outscoring Arizona by a 32-8 margin to finish their three city road swing with 6-3 record. Since 2012, Washington is 11-4 at Chase Field and has outscored the Diamondbacks by a 101-58 margin.
Some items from note following the series include the following:
Washington’s big three at the head of its rotation all picked up victories in the series. On the year the Nats are 45-2o in games started by Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer and Tanner Roark, while they are 19-24 in games started by others.
Strasburg continued his sterling 2016 season with six innings of three hit, one run allowed pitching in Washington’s 14-1 win on Monday night. On the year, Strasburg’s .980 WHIP puts him on pace to shatter his career best of 1.049 set in 2013. Strasburg also starred at the plate, going 3-4. It was the second three hit game of Strasburg’s career, and marked the sixth time a Nats’ hurler has had three knocks in a game. Livan Hernandez, who had three hit games in both 2005 and 2006, is the only Nats’ pitcher besides Strasburg to do so multiple times.
Few pitchers are as dominant as Scherzer when he is on his game, and he was for most of his appearance on Wednesday. The Nats’ All-Star struck out 11 in eight innings pitched, marking the ninth time he’s had 10 or more punch outs in a game in the 2016. He’s only two games short of the Nats’ record of 11 double digit strikeout games, a mark he set in 2015.
Nats’ hitters also were on display in the series. National League MVP candidate Daniel Murphy was 7 for 12 in the three game set with six runs scored, a double, a homer and four RBI. Murphy leads the National League in batting average (.358), hits (138), doubles (32), slugging percentage (.630) and OPS (1.027), and is third in RBI with 80.
Leadoff man Trea Turner flashed his talent in the series, getting five hits in the three game set. Among those hits was Turner’s fourth triple of the year and a mammoth 450 foot home run in Wednesday’s series finale. The homer was the second longest for the Nats’ in 2016, trailing only Wilson Ramos’ 455 moon shot against San Diego in the final game of Washington’s last home stand.
Another National who was hot at the plate in the series was Anthony Rendon, who went 5 for 13 with five runs scored, two doubles and four RBI. Rendon’s 2016 OPS is now a season high .784.
In Tuesday’s 10-4 win, Washington put up its 19th three plus home run game of the year as Wilson Ramos, Chris Heisey and Jayson Werth all hit round-trippers. The 2016 Nats now are within six games of the 2012 squad’s record of 25 games with three or more home runs. In their 19 three plus homer games this season, the Nats have posted a 15-4 record. In their 25 such games in 2012, the Nats were 23-2.
Is the first week of August too early to be talking about a playoff preview? It may be with a third of the season left to go, but the Nationals and this weekend’s opponent San Francisco could meet again in October when the post-season begins.
Gio Gonzalez takes the mound for the Nats in the opener of the three game set. Gonzalez is 2-2 with a 2.70 ERA in his last five starts, but has not gone seven or more innings in a game since June 9th. Over his last nine starts, Gonzalez has averaged 5.5 innings pitched.
The Giants counter with Jeff Samardzija, who went 1-2 with a 5.64 ERA in his July appearances. The second inning has been particularly problematic for the tall righthander in 2016, as he’s allowed opponents to hit .333 and post a .921 OPS in that frame.
After posting a 8-2 record at Nationals Park from 2008 through 2010, the Giants are only 3-13 in regular season games at the Nats’ home since 2011.
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.
Cincinnati’s Eugenio Suarez connects for a home run in the bottom of the third inning in last night’s Reds’ 7-2 victory over the Nationals at the Great American Ballpark.
Nats’ Record- 33-22
WP- Finnegan (2-4) LP- Gonzalez (3-4)
HR- Werth, Was (9), Suarez, Cin (13), Cozart, Cin (8), Duvall, Cin (15)
Coming off of a three game sweep of the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, the Nats took on the lowly Reds at Cincinnati last night in the first game of a weekend three game set at the Great American Ballpark. Despite their struggles so far in 2016, the Reds proved to be a worthy opponent on this evening as they bashed the Nats by a 7-2 score to start their weekend off on a positive note.
STARS OF THE GAME
Third Star– When one thinks of the best hitting shortstops in Major League Baseball, the Reds’ Zack Cozart is probably an afterthought for most people. Perhaps that needs to change.
Cozart was 2-4 with a home run (his eight) and two RBI last night for the Reds, moving his average on the year to a healthy .310. Among players who’ve played significant time at shortstop this year, Cozart’s 132 OPS + ranks behind only Manny Machado of Baltim0re (159), Xander Bogaerts of Boston (138) and Aledmys Diaz of St. Louis (134).
Second Star– Reds’ lefty Brandon Finnegan is anything but dominant, but he was efficient and effective in last night’s win. Finnegan held the Nationals to five hits and one run over his 6.1 innings pitched as he won his first game at home since July 7th of last season.
Star of the Game- When Todd Frazier was traded from the Reds during the off-season, many thought that third base would be a black hole in Cincinnati’s lineup in 2016. Eugenio Suarez is making sure that will not be the case
Suarez was 3 for 4 with two runs, two RBI and his 13th home run of the year to pace Cincinnati’s healthy offensive attack. Suarez’s homer total, achieved in only 198 at bats, matches the 13 he hit in 2015 with 372 at bats.
Valiant in Defeat- Trea Turner may only be up in the Major Leagues for a few days, but he sure made the best of his situation on Friday night. The speedy infield prospect went 3 for 3 with a double in his 2016 debut.
Jayson Werth’s solo home run off of Finnegan was his ninth of the season, putting him one short of his ninth double digit home run season in the Major Leagues. He has three career home runs at the Great American Ballpark, but last night’s blast was his first since 2013.
Coming off of the bench last evening, Wilson Ramos had only one at bat but he continued his hot 2016 form in that opportunity. Ramos’ double was his 10th of the season, and moved his batting average on the year to .342.
The Nats have now dropped five of their last six games in Cincinnati. Since 2005, Washington has only 14 wins in 38 games played in the Queen City.
Stephen Strasburg looks to pick up his 10th win in as many decisions today when he takes on the Reds. In three career games at Cincinnati, Strasburg has allowed 10 runs in 12 innings pitched.
The Reds send Dan Straily to the mound. In games at home this season, Straily has a 1.90 ERA in 31 innings pitched. He has thrown 29.1 innings in road games this year, with a 3.99 ERA to show for it.