Gio Gonzalez won again at Citi Field against the Mets on Saturday, moving his all-time record at the Mets’ home to 8-1 as the Nationals won their sixth game in a row. (PHOTO- Anthony Grupposo, USA Today Sports).
Our first edition of Nationals by the Numbers for the 2017 season features notes on the Nats’ dominance of former tormentors within their division, long balls hit with the bases full and the consistently good efforts Washington gets from its starting pitching staff.
Since 2011, Nationals’ wins at Citi Field in Queens, New York have been as common as jets flying over the stadium or Mets’ fans venting their displeasure with boos.
The Nats have won 43 of the 60 games (.716 winning percentage) played at New York since 2011. Yesterday’s winning pitcher Gio Gonzalez is 8-1 lifetime at Citi Field, and teammate Stephen Strasburg has won five of his six decisions at the park. Both Anthony Rendon (.889 OPS) and Bryce Harper (.880) have excelled against Mets’ pitching, and Daniel Murphy’s work against his former teammates has caused angst among his one-time supporters.
Despite their overall dominance on the road against the Mets, the Nationals have not swept a series in New York since August 12-14, 2014. Washington will look to change that behind ace Max Scherzer this evening.
Their divisional opponents in the Big Apple are not the only former bully who the Nats have turned the tables on. Since June 21, 2014, Washington has won 49 of the 62 games it has played against the Atlanta Braves. Washington’s 14 runs scored against Atlanta on April 19th is the most the Nationals have scored at Atlanta, beating the mark of 13 runs set in the Nats’ amazing comeback 13-12 win over the Braves on April 28, 2015.
Washington is 12-5 through 17 games in the 2017 campaign, one game behind the team’s best mark through 17 games in its 13 years in DC. The 2012 and 2016 teams, which both won National League East titles and had 98 and 95 wins respectively, were 13-4 at the 17 game mark.
Ryan Zimmerman has started the 2017 season looking like he did in his All-Star years, and he showed that form to the fans at Sun Trust Park in Washington’s 14-4 win on Wednesday. Zimmerman hit the sixth grand slam home run of his career in the rout, the first since he cleared the bases with a home run against San Diego on August 25, 2015 in Washington. Bryce Harper also hit a slam in the game, a year after his last four run round tripper on April 19, 2016 at Miami.
Bryce Harper’s no doubt home run to right-center in the first inning of Friday night against talented Matt Harvey of the Mets was the ninth of Harper’s career at Citi Field. That total trails only the 66 the Nats’ right fielder has hit at home at the 12 he has blasted at Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park. With two grand slams already, a talented and powerful lineup and 145 games left to play, the Nationals may have a shot at besting the 2009 squad’s Nats’ record of eight in a season.
Gio Gonzalez’s 6.1 innings pitched with only one run allowed marked the 12th time in 17 games that the Nationals’ starting pitchers have pitched at least six innings with two or fewer earned runs allowed. The Nats’ sole lefty starter leads the way with four such efforts, followed by Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer with three each and Tanner Roark with two.
It only took fire-balling lefty reliever Enny Romero 15 pitches to record five straight outs in the Nats’ 3-1 win at New York on Saturday. Included in that effort was a three pitch (all fastballs), see you later strikeout of the good-hitting Asdrubal Cabrera in which Romero’s velocity approached triple digits.
Trea Turner scored his first run of the season in yesterday’s 3-1 victory at New York. The game continued a trend where good things seem to happen to the Nats when the speedy Turner rounds the bases. In the 44 games in which Turner has scored at least one run as a National, Washington has won 30 of them.
Following Sunday’s prime-time match-up with the Mets, the Nationals head west to Coors Field to take on the Colorado Rockies in a four game series. Superstar Nolan Arenado has been excellent so far in 2017 (.328, six homers, 12 RBI, 1.087 OPS) and Mark Reyonlds has shown that Ryan Zimmerman isn’t the only former UVA player with a hot bat (.339, five homers 16 RBI) so far, but the real story of the Rockies’ hot start has been their pitching.
A major part of that effort has been the job done by the back end of the Colorado bullpen. Former Kansas City closer Greg Holland has converted all nine of his save attempts this year, and Holland, Adam Ottavino and lefty Mike Dunn have combined to struck out 33 batters in 25 innings pitched this year.
Stephen Strasburg’s win over the Braves on Thursday gave him 71 victories in his career, the most for any Nationals’ pitcher since baseball returned to Washington in 2005. The recent victory game Strasburg one more curly W than former teammates Livan Hernandez and Jordan Zimmermann.