by Sean Morris
Imagine driving home after work every night at 8 PM and so tired you just want to hit bed. Now, imagine the same situation only realizing you have to get in a workout after taking off the past 3 weeks of exercise. That is basically what the Nationals last 4 games have been like (basically). Not only did the Padres kick the Nationals out of San Diego, the Giants have been smoking the same lackluster team by a tune of 12-2 in the first 2 games of this 3 game series.
Trying to avoid the sweep on Wednesday night the Nationals gave themselves every opportunity through Gio to take care of business. Once again, Gio would rise up to the task against Madison Bumgarner and the Giants and avoid the 3-game sweep.
The Nationals 2-1 victory over the Giants came down to the 10th inning and with Rafael Soriano on the mound to close it out in his 14th save of the season.
MVP of the Game: Gio continues to have a very solid start to the season and is pitching out of his mind. The lefty compiled 7.1 innings and yielded only 4 hits, 1 run, 2 walks and no home runs today. He also struck out 5 Giant players and at one point had retired 16 of 17 hitters. Not bad for a player that has greatly improved from where he was at the beginning of the season.
Gio also had 15 first-call strikes out of the 28 batters he faced as the bullpen compiled 6/10 in the same ratio. Davey may not admit it but his bullpen and defense were a big reason this game was so tight going into the final innings of the game.
Moment of the Night: Some would argue getting the win and ending the 4-game slide was the moment of the night. To me, the Bryce Harper diving catch in the 8th inning when his team needed it the most solidified the moment of the night. Coming off that right knee injury Bryce is showing a fierce determination to get the job done. That play single handedly changed the outcome of the game and the result of the series.
Harper has been remarkable thus far this season and shows no shortage of energy. He added some respectable stats to going 2/5 with a solo home run and a double in the 10th that set up the rally for the Nationals to win the game in extras.
Looking Forward: Having lost the series to the Giants on the road is a minor headline to the skid the Nationals just ended. Losing can sap energy from any title contender, but when a team is able to pull together after some controversial comments made by the star reliever, everyone listens up. Normally, what happens in the locker room stays in the locker room, but maybe Soriano’s comments about Harper’s effort was just the wakeup call for the Nationals.
It caught the attention of the national media and the locker room. As we continue towards June it should be interesting to see how the comments will have any effect on the team. Most media pundits will push the information back and forth in the headlines, but normally, what happens in the locker room stays in the locker room. I expect this to be no different of a situation than what the Nationals are used to.
With the flight home and a day off to rest the Nationals look forward to a Memorial Day weekend series at home against the Phillies. The Nats will start the NL-wins leader Jordan Zimmerman and hope to ignite their long lost Natitude. The series starts at 7:05 PM EST and will be played on MASN.
by Haley Shotwell
Unlike last night’s game, the Nationals wasted no time getting things started in this game offensively as Denard Span lead off the game with a single. Span advanced to second after a sacrifice bunt by Bryce Harper then was able to scamper home after a double by Ryan Zimmerman.
After a fly out by Adam LaRoche for the second out of the inning, Ian Desmond drilled a double to right field allowing Zimmerman to score from second giving the Nats a quick 2-0 lead in the inning.
In the bottom of the same inning with the Giants threatening, Stephen Strasburg came through in the clutch as he struck out Brandon Belt to get Washington out of the jam without allowing any runs to score.
The second inning was pretty quiet until in the bottom of the inning, Gregor Blanco singled and then managed to score after an Angel Pagan single. That put the score at 2-1 in favor of the Nats but the Giants got greedy and catcher Kurt Suzuki caught Pagan trying to steal second for the third out of the inning.
The score would stay that way until the bottom of the ninth when Buster Posey singled on a ground ball to shortstop Desmond after the ball was deflected off of Rafael Soriano’s glove. So with one strike standing between the Nats and a big W, Blanco smashes a triple to right field to score the tying run and send the game to extras.
Momentum would stay on San Francisco’s side in the 10th inning as Scutaro singled to center field which would bring Pablo Sandoval to the plate. Sandoval wasted no time in crushing a bomb to center field to end the game with a walk off home run.
The final score in 10 was 4-2 as the Nationals are dealt their second loss of the series even after a strong outing by Strasburg. The Nats had five hits on the night while the Giants had 10.
MVP of the Night: Stephen Strasburg takes the honors for MVP of the night for this game. Strasburg looked much better tonight against a tough Giants lineup than his 2 and 5 record suggests.
The season has started out as a tough one for Strasburg who went seven innings, allowing five hits, one run and fanning seven. Strasburg faced 26 batters and threw 108 pitches before being relieved by Tyler Clippard.
Some bad starts earlier in the year are hopefully behind the young righty as Strasburg had a strong outing in this game. National’s fans everywhere will wait in anticipation in the hopes that this Strasburg we saw tonight is just the beginning of even better things to come the rest of the season.
Moment of the Night: The momentum changer for this game comes in the bottom of the second after Pagan has just reached base on a double. With Suzuki behind the plate, Pagan tries to put himself in scoring position for batter Marco Scutaro and tries for the steal at second. Suzuki wastes no time in gunning down Pagan for the third out of the inning.
The Giants had already scored one run in the inning but by Suzuki throwing out Pagan, the momentum once again shifted in favor of the Nats. Had the final out of the inning not been made at second, there is a very good possibility that Pagan scores off of an RBI by Scutaro tying the game at 2-2.
Looking Forward: The Nationals will have one more game against the Giants before returning home. Washington has been on the road since May 13th and will return home to face the Phillies and Orioles.
The Nats will start Gio Gonzalez on the mound in the hopes that the lefty will help deliver the win. Gonzalez is currently 3-2 on the year with a 4.02 ERA but will face a strong opponent in Madison Bumgarner. Bumgarner, also a lefty, is currently 4-2 on the year with a 3.09 ERA. Bumgarner struggled mightily in his last start as he allowed a career high nine runs scored along with giving up his first Major League Grand Slam.
The Nats currently stand at 23-23 while the Giants have a 26- 20 record.
Game time is set for 3:45 from AT&T Park as the Nats will try to make sure they have a happy, long flight home by securing a win. It is about time the team returns to the east coast, staying up for these late games is starting to get old.
It is no surprise that the NL West teams have given the defending NL East champs all they can handle starting with the Dodgers earlier last week and the Padres in the last 4 days. There was an expectation that the Nationals having struggled on the road (11-11). Add in the fact that the Nationals are still operating without Bryce Harper and Jason Werth and you have a delicate situation for offensive production. Combine the ingredient with a less than spectacular bullpen and Sunday afternoon became a moratorium more than a celebration of Natitude.
With Dan Haren taking the mound against Andrew Cashner and the Padres the Nationals hoped to get a series sealing third win. The Padres came out swinging at Haren and the Nationals and continued that all game as Haren got rattled in 5 innings of work they compiled 9 hits, 7 runs, and 2 home runs off the Pepperdine University product.
The Padres offensive explosion began in the bottom of the first inning when their offense got rolling with 3 runs and 3 hits. The Padres home crowd would not stop smiling for the rest of the day as they rolled to a 13-4 home win against the injured and offense-less Nationals.
MVP of the Game: With a flurry of home runs from the Padres on the day, it is only fitting that we bestow MVP of the game honors on Ryan Zimmerman. The third baseman has been the team’s best batter among National’s players that participated in the afternoon’s game. Zimmerman rang up 3 RBI’s and clobbered a monstrous 2-run homer in the top of the fourth inning to cut the Padres lead to 3-2. Going 2 of 4 on the day would be the highlight of the day for the Nationals who again left base runners in scoring position.
It becomes more difficult every game to get runners to score for the Nationals as they are ranked at 4th in runners left on base averaging 3.18 per game. Today, the Nationals left 6 runners on base and have been atrocious at doing so all season as proved by their ranking.
Moment of the Night: For the Nationals it may have been when the Adam LaRoche extended his hitting streak to 16. The first baseman put it all together in the top of the seventh when he was able to crank a RBI single that scored Lombardozzi for the Nationals. Outside of this the Nationals have searched long and hard for a spark that has been missing, losing six of their last nine games.
Looking Forward: The Nationals having tied a series with the Padres are now moving up the West Coast to travel to San Francisco to take on the Giants. The Nationals will put on Zach Duke in his first start of the season. Duke will be put up against Ryan Vogelsong in a battle of unproven hurlers. There may be a little bit more attention and importance to these games as alluded to by Bryce Harper’s tweet last night, stating that his favorite park to play at is in San Francisco.
The Nationals need Harper and Werth back to get the team back on track offensively. Without either of the players the team’s play has been remarkably poorer. The Nationals and Giants will play a 3-game series that lasts until Wednesday before their day off and return to Nationals Park on Thursday for a series with the Phillies.
by Sean Morris
The Nationals started with a quick 3 up, 3 down result in the top of first inning. With Ross Detwiler on the mound in the bottom of the first Gordon attempted a bunt and Detwiler fired a laser to first to get the first out, followed by a Punto flyout to center. Then, Kemp struck with a ground ruled-double to right field, this was immediately followed by a blast up the middle by Adrian Gonzalez scoring the first run of the game. With 2 outs, Detwiler was ready to end the Dodgers momentum and forced a ground out to second, Espinosa quickly dispersed Ellis and brought the first inning to a close.
Zack Greinke who held the Nationals hitless in the first continued with a tear in the second getting LaRoche swinging for his first strikeout on the night. An Ian Desmond pop fly out to right, then Wilson Ramos blasted a liner into the gap of left center for a double. Alas, a broken bat and a pop fly out to right ended the Nationals scoring hopes while leaving a runner on.
The bottom of the second saw a hit by Ethier to start the inning the hit was driven into center for a single. Detwiler, having an unsteady night, walks Vasquez bringing up Uribe for the Dodgers. Uribe hits to Desmond and turns a 4-6-3 double play while Ethier advances to third. Greinke tees off on a single to right field and scores Ethier from third. Detwiler gets Gordon to ground to Espinosa who ends the inning with the throw to first.
Bernardina taps a single past first and in the gap between second. This brings up Detwiler who keenly bunts and moves Bernardina to move to second but Detwiler gets thrown out at first. Span steps up and tries his luck against the Dodgers defense and flies out to left for the second out. Lombardozzi continues the fly out fest to left and Greinke escapes unscathed again.
In the bottom of the third and with Punto at bat Detwiler again yields a single right up the middle. Kemp fires a liner into center but Span is all over it and gets the first out in the bottom of the third. Gonzalez taps a grounder while Desmond gets the force out of Kemp at second but a poorly thrown ball puts Gonzalez on first. With A.J. Ellis up he hits a floater past Desmond to load up Dodgers on second and first. With Ethier up and 2 outs for the Dodgers, Detwiler walks the hitter and issues his second walk of the night. Detwiler gets Slyke up next and drives a liner right to Zimmerman for the final out and the Nationals get out of the inning without giving up and runs.
In the top of the fourth, Greinke gets Zimmerman swinging. All of a sudden LaRoche wakes up the sleeping Nationals hitters with a solo shot to center field cutting the Dodgers lead making it 2-1 and continuing his hitting streak to 12 games. Desmond hits a fly out to right which brings up Ramos who cuts up the Dodgers outfield with a single to left. Immediately, Ramos comes out of the game and Suzuki comes in as Ramos heads to the clubhouse for further examination. Lombardozzi steps to the plate and goes down swinging to give Greinke his third strikeout of the night.
In the bottom of the fourth, Davey goes with a new pitcher/catcher setup with Suzuki behind the plate and Stammen on the mound. Stammen gets a quick grounder from Uribe and makes the throw for the first out. Greinke then goes down swinging for the first strikeout of the night by a Nationals pitcher. Next up is Dee Gordon who goes down looking and Stammen gets 2 strikeouts to end the inning.
With top of the fifth Bernardina went down swinging to give Greinke his 4th strikeout of the night. With Stammen at the plate he takes a crack at a ball right over the middle but yet again fly out to right and 2 outs for the Nationals. Span puts his next ball right into center for his second hit on the night. Greinke finally gets Lombardozzi to ground out to move to the middle of the fifth.
Stammen gets Punto, whom lit up Detwiler early on, to hit a high flyball to center but Span grabs it right before the warning track. Luckily, Span did not have to crash down the wall like Harper on Monday night. Kemp steps up next for a crack at Stammen, however, Stammen fans the hitter for his 3rd strikeout tonight equaling the number of innings his predecessor threw. With Adrian Gonzalez, Stammen yields a grounder between Lombardozzi and Espinosa for a single. After that Ellis pops a ball foul only to be caught to end the fifth.
In the top of the sixth, Zimmerman leads off with a grounder to third but the Dodgers pull Greinke anyways for J.P. Howell who faces Adam LaRoche. LaRoche goes down swinging but the ball rolls away from the Dodgers catcher and LaRoche tries to dispute the call, Davey comes out and nothing materializes for the Nationals. Desmond steps to the plate and on a 3-2 count, Howell walks the hitter and brings up Suzuki. The Dodgers make another call to the bullpen and bring in Matt Guerrier facing Suzuki. Suzuki puts a liner into center and Desmond moves all the way to third base. Espinosa gets up and taps a grounder to second who ends the Nationals hopes at tying the score before the 7th inning begins.
With Stammen back on the mound facing Ethier, the hitter knocks a grounder of the glove of Desmond and yields his first hit in 2 innings. Van Slyke then grounds into a 6-4-3 double play the second of the night for the Nationals. Uribe hits a ball into deep center where Span makes the grab and ends the sixth inning.
During the top of the seventh, Bernardina returns to the plate and strikes out for the first out of the inning. Tyler Moore as the second man up to bat and gets a questionable outside strike to end his at-bat. Facing Denard Span, Paco Rodriguez delivers a walk to bring up Lombardozzi. With another call to the bullpen the Dodgers call out Kenley Jansen and the Dodgers catch Span attempting a steal on second to move the ball game to the seventh inning stretch.
Bottom of the seventh and the Nationals decide to put Tyler Clippard on the mound. With Schumaker up to face Clippard the hitter chases a ball outside and gives Clippard his first strikeout of the night. Dee Gordon comes to face Clippard only to strikeout. Like Stammen, Clippard gets his first 2 batters to strikeout. Finally, Punto flies out to the inning.
With Lombardozzi facing off against Jansen to begin the inning, the Nationals first basemen leads off with a single into center. With Zimmerman up facing Jansen he cracks a blooper into shallow right and Lombardozzi proceeds all the way to third to put the Nationals into scoring position. With LaRoche back up at-bat and facing a full-count, LaRoche hits a fly out to left field. After putting LaRoche away, Desmond steps to the plate and goes down swinging to Jansen. Suzuki steps to the plate and puts another fly out into right field to end the Nationals hopes to tie the game – again. The Nationals have left 10 runners on base on the evening.
During the bottom of the 8th the Dodgers, Storen comes to the mound for the Nationals and Kemp knocks a single to left. Against Adrian Gonzalez Storen walks the batter to bring up A.J. Ellis. With no outs the Dodgers get a bunt and the throw from Zimmerman goes to first to advance the Dodgers runners to second and third. Ethier gets intentionally walked with Crawford up to bat against Storen. Crawford hit a sacrifice fly to center with Kemp scoring and finally Federowicz flied out to center to end the 8th.
In the top of the eighth inning with a two run deficit and Espinosa at the plate. With Roger Bernadina up, Brandon League gets a chopper from the hitter and a quick throw to first for the out. In a stunning turn of events Harper is now in the hitter’s box to give the Nationals a spark. Again, the Dodgers force the ground out at first while Espinosa advances to third. After getting the first 2 outs, Span steps to the plate and falls behind immediately in a 0-2 count. Span grounds out to wrap this game up and the Dodgers win the game 3-1.
MVP of the Game: After a pathetic performance from Ross Detwiler out the gate the MVP honors go to Craig Stammen who helped stabilize the Nationals defense and performed admirably. Stammen was able to pitch 3 innings and get 3 strikeouts and only yielded 2 hits. Stammen’s relief performance has helped improve his ERA to 2.25 and even though he did not chip-in on offense did enough to help the team play better in the middle innings and stay competitive in the game.
Moment of the Night: Not many things went right offensively tonight for the Nationals but the solo shot by LaRoche tonight was the key cog for the Nationals offense that lacked Jason Werth and Bryce Harper. The hit also extended LaRoche’s hitting streak to 12 games and with a batting average of .214 may have been the only player besides Ramos to stand out on offense.
Looking Forward: It is easy to look at this team and not scratch your head early in the season. The most riddling part about the season is the lack of confidence that the depth on the team has shown without Bryce Harper, Jason Werth, and Wilson Ramos all affected by injuries.
Wilson left this game and never returned to the lineup after heading into the clubhouse in the fourth inning. If you want to look for positive out of this game, you have to like what Craig Stammen has done so far this season, minus, the sketchy inning at home against the Braves this year he has been formidable in the middle innings. Storen and Clippard have been improving as well.
Looking at rest of the pitching staff Strasburg has been a mystery so far this season and Zimmerman has accounted for a 1/3 of the team’s wins this year, that according to Grant Paulsen of 106.7 The Fan.
The Nationals are traveling to PETCO Park to play the San Diego Padres to begin the second leg of their road trip. Strasburg will face Volquez and both teams are looking to improve after recent losses. First pitch is at 10:10 EDT and can be seen on MASN HD in the DMV.
by Blake Butler
It’s something we as Washington sports fans have become a bit used to this past year. A young, hungry, star player becomes the face of the franchise, the talk of the town, and promises many years of highlights in Washington. However, that one star player has one simple “tragic flaw” so to speak. That player’s biggest weakness is his competitive nature that contributes to his aggressive style. That aggressive style then leads to injury which, of course, leads to that star player not being on the field.
Washington football fans know exactly what I’m talking about. En route to leading the Redskins to a division title and winning NFL Rookie of the Year, Robert Griffin III suffered a both concussion and a serious knee injury last season. The latter of which required off-season surgery.
Now, something not quite as serious yet similar seems to be happening to the Nationals as Bryce Harper has crashed into an outfield wall for the second time in two weeks. The first came in Atlanta on May 1st when in the 6th inning Harper jumped up toward the right field wall, collided with it, and the ball tipped off his glove into the stands giving the Braves a home run in the process. Harper left that game with bruising to the left side of his body but was able to avoid serious injury and returned 2 days later. Then in Monday night’s victory in Los Angeles, Harper chased a well hit ball and ran smack into the right field wall, this time injuring the right half of his body as the Dodgers got a triple. Trainers came out and he got up bleeding as he left the game in the 5th inning. Unlike RG3 though, it doesn’t seem like he’ll need surgery or miss any significant amount of time. Bryce Harper seems to have dodged a bullet though as of this writing he has still yet to receive X-Rays. Though it is unlikely he’ll miss too many games if any.
What do you do about this? Do you tell Bryce Harper to stop playing so hard? Do you tell him to stop playing with the kind of hustle that causes his helmet to fly off as he stretches doubles into triples? No, much like RG3, you simply have to make sure Bryce Harper plays smarter and protects himself. With RG3, you tell him to stop taking unnecessary hits from 300-pound guys. Now, baseball, by it’s nature, makes players far less injury prone but they still have to protect themselves, especially when it comes to running towards a wall. You don’t tell Harper to stop hustling but you tell him to learn where the wall is and that the warning track is there for a reason. There is nothing wrong with playing every play like it’s your last provided you take necessary precautions to make sure it isn’t your last. After all, much like the Redskins need Robert Griffin III behind center, the Nationals need Bryce Harper’s glove in field and bat in the line-up.
by Haley Shotwell, Sean Morris, Mike Andrews
The Nats were on a hot streak, winning five of their last six games before the Chicago Cubs came into town. Just as it was looking like the Nats were about to go on a tear, the Cubs came to DC and shut those thoughts down as they made Strasburg collapse in the fifth inning and ruined (along with the help of the Nats bullpen) Gio’s great outing on Sunday.
The Nats did pull one game out of the three game series, but ultimately ended up falling in a slump in the last two games of the series before heading out to the west coast for a ten-game swing.
Haley and Sean watched two of the games (Friday and Sunday, respectively)–their thoughts after the jump…
Davey said it best… in a critical matchup against the Tigers, the Nationals got everything they wanted to get in the 3-1 win on Tuesday night against a stunned Detroit squad.
Again, Bryce Harper led the Nationals and they finally earned their first win against Detroit in interleague play since coming to Washington. Harper cranked a solo shot in the 5th inning off the Tigers’ Anibel Sanchez the 10th of the season for the second year-pro.
Jordan Zimmerman notched another win and the Tigers got only 1 run on the evening.
MVP of the Game: Without a doubt the Nationals got their best tonight from Jordan Zimmerman who once again shined for the Nationals. Zimmerman’s lucky number on the night was 7 for the innings pitched, hits yielded, and strikeouts made.
Zimmerman has wowed many across baseball early in the season including the Tigers whom he stunned by shutting down the leading batting offense in baseball. He is 4-0 at NationalsPark this season, 9-0 in his last 15 starts, and only yielded 1 run in this game.
Moment of the Night: The throwing error made by Tori Hunter in the bottom of the 4th for the go-ahead run was the difference maker in this game. It is early in the season and you want to have consistent plays from your infielders. The throw by Hunter on the attempt to get Span out at third ended up taking a bounce out of bounds. As soon as third base ump Greg Gibson saw that it was ruled an error and Span was signaled to the plate. This gave the Nationals the lead and they never looked back.
Looking Forward: In a 2-game series the Nationals can look forward to have Doug Fister face Dan Haren in the series finale in NationalsPark at 4:05 PM. The Nationals will then begin a series against the Chicago Cubs on Friday at home as well. With 3 wins in a row and the series finale tomorrow the Nationals hope to have a 4 game win streak going by the time Chicago arrives on Friday. The Nationals have also improved their home record to 10-7 and will hope to continue the strong play at home.
by Sean Morris
The Nationals have not been blazing trails lately but they have been consistently improving. It has been pointed out most recently by myself that the Nationals have lacked consistent play on offense by pointing to the number of hits created by their offense. However, when it comes to developing a consistent offensive rhythm in the early season, Johnson even directed some positive words towards his second baseman Danny Espinosa after having some sluggish performances early this year.
Johnson alluded to the simple fact that Espinosa just has not been very good but in his press conference, “he had pretty good at-bats. I was really pleased with his approach today.” That quote is a positive reflection on what has been an offensively sluggish first half of the season. Combine Davey’s post game comments and the 8 position hits on offense tonight and you have a recipe for success.
Consider also that the Nationals had 11 hits on the day with a stout performance from Gio Gonzalez with 6 innings pitched and 5 strikeouts. The Nationals finished with a 6-2 win to elevate the Nationals to 17-15 overall and 8-8 on the road this year.
MVP of the Game: Espinosa was clutch as I previously alluded and Johnson’s comments were specifically about his play during the second and fourth innings of this game. In the second, Espinosa hit a sac fly out to center field, some would scoff at the idea of a sac fly being important in the flow of a regular season game. However, during the course of this game it allowed Ryan Zimmerman to score and help the Nationals tie the game. This was the result after a monster walk-off in the bottom of the first by the Mante.
Espinosa was also clutch when he jacked a 2 run home run to left field to score Zimmerman. You can make an argument for any player on offense but when you look at the struggles Espinosa has endured early the remarks from Johnson help shine light on what kind of player Davey thinks he is but also what type of competitor he expects Espinosa to be.
Moment of the Night: None of the hits tonight were more important for the Nationals than the hit that came off the bat of Tyler Moore in the top of the 8th. The 416 foot 3-run home run helped elevate the Nationals from 3-2 to 6-2. The home run scored Roger Bernardina and Adam LaRoche and helped fuel Natitude in Pittsburgh.
Looking Forward: Davey Johnson and the Nationals get a day off and wrap up 2 out of 3 against the Pirates. The Nationals will welcome the AL-Central leading Detroit Tigers (19-11) on Tuesday and the expected return of Jayson Werth from injury. Expect a great pitching matchup when Jordan Zimmerman will be on the bump against Anibel Sanchez.
by Haley Shotwell
Just as Jordan Zimmerman shut down the Braves last night, it was Dan Haren’s turn tonight. The Nationals won by a score of 3-1 and scored all three of their runs in the first two innings.
After leading off the game with a double, Denard Span was able to score on a Steve Lombardozzi ground ball to left field give the Nats a 1 to 0 lead. After three up, three down for the Braves in the bottom of the first, Adam LaRoche doubled to start the top of the second. Anthony Rendon followed with a single, advancing LaRoche to third.
The Nationals continued to pound starter Kris Medlen as Wilson Ramos reached on a fielder’s choice. LaRoche recorded the first out of the inning at home leaving runners on first and second. Haren then laid down a sacrifice bunt, advancing all runners into scoring position. Span then smacked a double to left fielder Justin Upton allowing Rendon and Ramos to score.
Span and Rendon supplied most of the offense in this one as Span went 3-3 with two RBI’s and Rendon connected for two hits in the game.
Those would be all the runs that were needed for the Nats to secure the road win as the Braves struggled to connect with Haren. Atlanta’s only run of the night came from a Dan Uggla home run to left field.
Medlen faced 31 batters and went seven innings on the night, giving up seven hits, three earned runs and fanning eight before being relived by Cory Gearrin.
MVP of the Game: Between Denard Span and Dan Haren, the MVP of the night was tough to choose. I have to go with Haren on this one though as he basically shut down the Braves bats other than four hits.
Haren went eight strong innings giving up only one run on the night (Uggla’s homer) and struck out four before being relieved by Rafael Soriano. Haren faced 29 batters and improved his pitching record to 3-3 on the year.
The righty also helped himself out on the offensive side of things with a sacrifice bunt, putting runners in scoring position. This was the second consecutive night that the Nats pitchers went eight innings.
Moment of the Night: The moment of the night, for me, has to be the top of the second inning as a whole. If Washington did not push across the two runs after the sacrifice bunt by Haren, the Nats would have had a very slim one run lead which is not enough for a lineup like Atlanta’s.
Span came through in the clutch on this one, giving the Nats a three run lead and giving Washington the momentum they needed to win this important game. Not to mention with a three run lead, Haren has a cushion, which always makes a pitcher more comfortable on the mound.
Looking Forward: After starting out the series the way they did, the Nats can hold their heads high as they leave Atlanta with a 2-2 series split. Washington is now just 2 ½ games behind the Braves as they head to Pittsburgh for a three game road series.
The Pirates are coming off a series loss to the Brewers but are 8-4 at home so far this young season. The Pirates will start A.J. Burnett for the first game of the series and the team currently stands at 16-12 on the year.
Washington will start Ross Detweiler who started off the season with a 0.90 ERA but has since lost his last two outings. The Nats, who are 15-14 will hope to get back in the groove they were in at the beginning of the season as they looked like a force to be reckoned with.
First pitch is set for 7:05 from PNC Park in Pittsburgh.
by Joe Rummel, Mike Andrews
With the Nats having quite the trouble getting a victory against the division rivals, the Atlanta Braves, one would think that a victory over them last night would be big news in Nats town. Unfortunately, the news was shifted to the phrase that undoubtedly haunted Nationals fans and staff alike.
“Is Bryce okay?”
Being the only source of consistent offense for this team, the Nats would be hard-pressed to find any guaranteed victories (sans the Miami Marlins) on their upcoming schedule without the 20-year-old superstar.
In last night’s game, Jordan Zimmerman pulled out the win, but he had to do it without Harper after the sixth inning.
Harper left the game as a precautionary measure in the sixth inning. He aggravated an existing injury with a hard swing before grounding out to Freddie Freeman at first.
The cause of the injury came from his leap into the wall, attempting to steal a home run from Tim Hudson the night before. Harper has been listed as day-to-day; meanwhile, Rafael Soriano relieved the Nationals workhorse and closed out the Braves for his eighth save.
It wasn’t that Zimmerman needed the relief; but on the verge of his third complete game this season, skipper Davey Johnson wasn’t taking any chances, saved the ace’s arm and looked ahead to October.
It should be noted that Nationals skipper Davey Johnson called into 106.7 The Fan today to tell Danny Rouhier and Holden Kushner that X-Rays on Bryce’s rib were negative for a break, which is good news. There is still no indication if he will start tonight, however.
Dan Haren (2-3, 6.29 ERA) looks to get on track in tonight’s game and tie the series; meanwhile, we’ll all watch “Harper updates” to track his progress.
Related: In better injury news: Strasburg is reported to have felt no soreness in a bullpen session and is scheduled to make his next start with no problems.