Game 89 Review- Nationals 5 Reds 0

 
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Bryce Harper circles the bases following his third inning home run off of Cincinnati’s Tim Adleman in Washington’s 5-0 victory over the Reds at the Great American Ballpark on July 14th.

NATIONALS  5  Reds 0

Record 53-36    9.5 games up on Atlanta in the NL East

WP- Gonzalez (8-4)  LP-  Adleman (5-7)  SV- Grace (1)

HR-  Harper, Was 2(22)

The second half of the Nationals’ season began with a great all-around effort as Washington defeated the Reds 5-0 in the first game of a four game series at Cincinnati.   Here’s a look at some of the news and notes from the game.

STARS OF THE GAME

Gio Gonzalez was razor sharp on the night, allowing only four hits in 8.1 shutout innings to earn his eighth win of the year. Gonzalez induced 14 ground ball outs and struck out six as he registered his 17th game in 19 starts on the year where he’s allowed three or fewer earned runs.   Gonzalez’s 79 pitching game score was his highest in a road contest since September 9, 2013 when he posted a 91 score in Washington’s 9-0 rout of the New York Mets.

Nationals’ rightfielder Bryce Harper is a unique talent, and his power stroke was on display on Friday night.  Harper homered twice for the fourth time this year and registered the 14th multi-home run game of his career to pace Washington’s attack.   The all-star has a nine game hitting streak going, and is 15-34 with 12 runs scored, two doubles, four home runs and 10 RBI during that time period.

He may not have been part of the All-Star festivities in Miami earlier this week, but anyone who has watched Anthony Rendon play this year realizes that the Nats’ third baseman is playing at an All-Star level. Rendon was 2 for 3 with a double and a run batted in at the plate and made several sparkling defensive plays to support Gonzalez’s strong outing.

STRONG EVEN IN DEFEAT

The Reds have a large supply of power arms in the bullpen, and righty Asher Wojciechowski’s ability to throw hard was on display on Friday.   The South Carolina native struck out four, including Harper and Rendon, in two scoreless innings pitched.

NATS NOTES

Brian Goodwin led of the contest with a double to right and later scored the game’s first run on a Stephen Drew RBI hit.  The first inning success for the Nats’ rookie is nothing new. In 24 at bats in the first inning so far this year, Goodwin is hitting .375 with a 1.194 OPS.

Catcher Matt Wieters had a strong game, working with Gonzalez to shut down the Reds and picking up two hits in three at bats. The multi-hit game was the 14th of the year for Wieters, but only his third in games played away from Nationals Park.

Rendon was not the only Nationals’ player flashing the leather on Friday night.  Goodwin and Chris Heisey both made sparking catches, with Goodwin’s keeping the Reds off of the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth with Washington holding only a three run lead.  Middle infielders Drew and Wilmer Difo also were strong with the glove, with Drew turning a potential two run single by Tucker Barnhart into a game ending out to end a Reds’ bases loaded threat.

UP NEXT

Later today, Cincinnati fans will get to see something they’ve not had a chance to do previously.  Nats’ ace Max Scherzer will make the first appearance of his career at the Great American Ballpark as he looks for his 11th win on the year.  In his career Scherzer has posted a 2.75 ERA, the best mark in any month for the All-Star righty.

Opposing Scherzer will be rookie Luis Castillo, who is 1-1 with a 3.13 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 23 innings pitched. The righthander has been more effective keeping lefties (.222/.286/.469) than righties (.286/.375/.452) off base so far this year.

So far this year the Nationals have not been living it up on Saturday night, or at any time during the weekend’s first day for that matter.  Washington is 6-8 in Saturday contests so far in 2017.

 

Nationals by the Numbers- July 13th

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The Nationals had a strong five player contingent at this year’s Major League All-Star game.  The team looks to get the second half of the 2017 season off on the right foot tomorrow night in Cincinnati against the Reds in the first game of a four game series.

Three and a half months down on the 2017 season, two and a half more to go.  In this edition of Nationals by the Numbers, we look at some shining results from the team’s star pitchers, impressive offensive production by the team as a whole and several star players in particular, and the first half totals by a Nats’ player who likely thinks there’s no place like home (i.e. Nationals Park).

.811

The Nats’ .811 OPS ranks second in the Major Leagues so far in 2017, trailing only the Houston Astros’ .855 figure.   Washington’s impressive mark is far and away the best OPS figure a Nationals team has registered in the first half of any season.  The previous high was .757, set in the Nats’ division winning season last year.  The 2009 team’s .753 figure was third, followed by the 2006 squad’s .746 mark and the 2010 team’s .733 total.

.859

Speaking of OPS….if history is a guide, Nats’ all-star Ryan Zimmerman will continue his hot-hitting ways over the season’s final 74 games. In his career, Zimmerman has put up an impressive .859 OPS mark v.s. the .765 figure he’s registered in the first halves of seasons.

Zimmerman’s best post-break season came in 2015, when he posted a 1.024 OPS while hitting .311 with 11 homers and 39 RBI.  The “face of the franchise” also excelled in the second half of the 2009 (.969 OPS, .297 average, 19 homers and 54 RBI) and 2012 (.945 OPS, .319 average, 17 homers, 55 RBI) seasons.

.88 

All the talk of a juiced baseball certainly has not proven to be true when Stephen Strasburg has toed the rubber for the Nats so far this year.  Strasburg’s .88 HR/9 rate tops all National League pitchers with at least 100 innings pitched so far in 2017.  In 112.2 frames so far this year, Strasburg has allowed only 11 homers.    Among Major Leaguers, the veteran righthander trails only Detroit’s Michael Fulmer (.54) and Boston’s Chris Sale (.78) in the category.  Strasburg’s teammate and fellow All-Star Max Scherzer is fifth in the Majors at .91.

6

Any pitcher who posts a pitching game score of 80 or more has thrown a gem.  So far in 2017, Washington has six such games.   Strasburg and Scherzer posted matching 85 scores in back to back games against San Diego in May, and Scherzer has four other such games so far in 2017.  The six 80 plus games equals the team’s mark in the entire 2016 season, and is only two games off of the Nats’ record of eight 80 plus pitching game score contests set in 2012.

In his time in Washington Scherzer has 13 such games,  putting him six ahead of Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez who’ve had seven each.

11 

It has been 11 years since a National League East team has had a bigger divisional lead at the break than Washington’s current 9.5 spread over the Atlanta Braves.

Back in 2006, the New York Mets led the division by 12 games at the break over Philadelphia in route to a 97-65 record and a divisional championship.  The Mets won a divisional playoff series against the Dodgers that year, before suffering a heartbreaking 4-3 defeat to the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship series.

 102

Nats’ catcher Matt Wieters has saved his best for the home crowd so far in 2017, hitting 102 points higher at home (.291) than he has on the road (.189).

Wieters’ road OPS of .536 is the ninth lowest mark among Major Leaguers with at least 100 at bats in road contests this year.  Former National Danny Espinosa is the “leader” in this dubious category, putting up a .383 OPS in 115 at bats away from Anaheim.

295

How cool would it be to have a video of each of Nats’ all-star Daniel Murphy’s regular season hits in his time as a National?  If such a video existed, it would show 295 safeties by the sweet swinging Murphy, the fifth highest total in the Major Leagues since 2016.   Jose Altuve leads the Majors with 332 hits since the start of 2016, with Boston’s Mookie Betts next in line at 310.  Only two National Leaguers have a higher total than Murphy’s 295.  Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon has 304 hits over the past year and a half, and teammate D.J. LeMahieu has one more than Murphy at 296.

 

Nationals by the Numbers- July 2nd

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Gio Gonzalez allowed only one run on two hits in seven dominant innings at St. Louis last night, but was a hard luck loser as the Cardinals defeated the Nationals 2-1.

This week, we look at a less than stellar month for the first place Nats, production at home from many of the team’s key hitters, some tough luck for a starting pitcher who might be an All-Star and some team record-setting thievery on the basepaths.

.500

The Nationals finished an up and down month of June with a .500 record, going 14-14.  If the Nationals hold on to win the 2017 National League East crown as most expect them to do, June 2017 will be the second worst month for any division winning squad in Nats’ history.  In May of 2014, the Nats struggled to an 11-15 record but went 69-39 over the season’s final four months to cruise to their second National League East crown.

1.000

An OPS mark of 1.000 or higher is an indicator of top-level offensive production. So far in 2017, the Nationals have a solid group of players who have beaten that mark in games played at Nationals Park.

Rookie Brian Goodwin has posted a 1.117 OPS in home games in 53 at bats, with bench stalwart Adam Lind checking in at 1.088 in 50 at bats at home.  Among regulars, Michael A. Taylor is at 1.030, Anthony Rendon has put up a 1.027 mark, Ryan Zimmerman is at 1.025 and Bryce Harper has a 1.019 home OPS figure.  Prior to suffering a significant knee injury in the season’s first month, outfielder Adam Eaton’s OPS in home games was 1.011.

So far in 2017, Gio Gonzalez has recaptured the form that made him one of the National League’s best pitchers in 2012.  In recent games however, the left-hander has been the victim of some misfortune.

Last night at St. Louis, Gonzalez took the loss in a 2-1 Cards’ win despite allowing only one run on two hits while striking out nine.  This comes on the heels of an outing five days earlier at home against the Cubs, where Gonzalez lost while giving up only a single run in six innings pitched.

The back to back tough luck losses marks only the third time in Nationals history where a pitcher has lost back to back starts despite allowing only one run in each game.   In 2010, Jason Marquis lost 1-0 to Phiadelphia on 8/20/10 and 4-0 to the Cubs on 8/25/10 while allowing only one run in each contest.  In May of 2011, Livan Hernandez dropped a pair of 1-0 games in consecutive starts (May 14th against Florida and May 19th against the Mets).

5.147

Nats’ ace Max Scherzer is the front-runner to start for the National League in this month’s All-Star game, and is on track to be at the top of the list in the Cy Young balloting later this year.  He also may be on the verge of a season for the ages.

Through 16 starts this year, Scherzer has allowed only 5.147 hits per nine innings pitched. Since 1901, no pitcher who qualified for the ERA crown has allowed fewer than 5.26 hits per nine innings. Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan put up the impressive 5.26 mark in 1972 while pitching for the California Angels.

The best mark ever for a Nationals’ pitcher in the category is Scherzer’s 6.5 that he achieved in 2016.

10

Anthony Rendon has a team leading 10 home runs at Nationals Park so far this year.   The Nats’ mark for home runs in games in DC is 24, set by Alfonso Soriano in 2006 while the Nationals played home games at RFK Stadium. At Nationals Park, Bryce Harper’s 23 round trippers in 2015 is the top mark.

13 

With his victory over the Chicago Cubs this past Wednesday, Stephen Strasburg now has victories over 13 of the 14 National League teams who do not play in the Nation’s Capital.  Strasburg will likely get a chance to make it 14 out of 14 later this year when the Nationals play the Brewers at home from July 25th through 27th, and in Milwaukee from August 31st through September 3rd.

The Nats’ righty’s top mark for wins against an opponent is 13 against the Marlins. Among non-National League East squads, Strasburg’s six victories against his hometown Padres is his high mark.

18 

Since the Nationals started playing in DC in 2005, there have been 18 Major League teams with seven or more stolen bases in a single game.

Washington achieved that mark for the first time this past Tuesday in a win over Cubs, as Trea Turner stole four bases, Michael A. Taylor swiped two and Anthony Rendon added one.   The Nats became the second Major League team with at least seven steals in a game in 2017 (the Dodgers stole seven bags in a victory over Milwaukee on June 3rd).

The Nats’ win against the Cubs marked the sixth time in team history where Washington has had more than one player with multiple stolen bases in a single game.  On September 26, 2011, Danny Espinosa and Jayson Werth had a pair of steals each in Washington’s 6 -4 win over Florida.   Ian Desmond, Roger Bernadina and Bryce Harper swiped a pair each on July 8, 2012 in a 4-3 loss to Colorado.   Denard Span and Anthony Rendon had two steals each on June 18, 2014 in a 6-5 victory over Colorado, and Rendon and Werth did the same in Washington’s 6-4 win over the Dodgers on September 1st of the same season. Prior to Tuesday, the most recent game in this category came on April 11, 2016 when Harper and Michael A. Taylor registered two steals each in the Nats’ 6-4 win against Atlanta.

41

Later today Ryan Zimmerman will be selected to his second All-Star game, probably as the National League’s starting first baseman.

Zimmerman leads the Nationals with 41 extra base hits (22 doubles and 19 home runs) so far this year, with Daniel Murphy’s 40 (24 doubles, two triples and 14 home runs) right behind Zim.  Zimmerman’s career high for extra base hits in a season is 73, set in 2009 when he made his first All-Star team.

Washington’s mark for extra-base hits in a season is 89, set by Alfonso Soriano in 2006. Bryce Harper had 81 in 2015, Murphy had 77 in 2016 and Adam Dunn registered 76 in 2010.

 

Nationals by the Numbers- June 25th

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Trea Turner was dynamic out of the leadoff spot in Saturday’s 18-3 Nats’ win over the Cincinnati Reds at Nationals Park. Turner had a career high five hits and scored four runs to pace Washington’s dynamic attack.

In this week’s Nationals by the Numbers, we look at outstanding efforts by a couple of Nationals’ starters, some monumental achievements by key players in lineup and a hot stretch by a potential emerging star.

.395

While 2016 was season to forget for Nationals’ outfielder Michael A. Taylor, he’s making 2017 memorable.   Particularly over the past several weeks, Taylor has shown the skill level that has fascinated team management since the Florida native was drafted in the sixth round of the 2009 MLB draft.

Since June 10th, Taylor has hit .395 in 38 at bats with 12 runs scored, six doubles, four home runs (including his second career multiple home run game on June 24th against Cincinnati), nine RBI and three stolen bases. After posting a feeble 71 OPS+ in 2016, Taylor’s mark stands at a healthy 107 so far this year.

1

There’s no doubt that offensive numbers are up in 2017, and that is especially true for the National League East’s top team.  With their 13th double digit run game of the year on Saturday against the Reds, Washington is one game short of the Nats’ record of 14 10+ run games in a season.

On Saturday, the Nationals became the first National League team since 2010 to have two games with 18 or more runs scored in a season.  In 2010, the Brewers defeated the Pirates 20-0 on April 22nd and thrashed the Cubs 18-1 on August 2nd.

If the Nationals can crack the 18 run mark one more time this year, they’ll be the first National League team in 74 years to do so.  In 1943 the Brooklyn Dodgers scored 18 runs in wins over the Phillies and Cubs in May and June, and then tallied 23 in a rout of the Pirates in July.

Max Scherzer’s outing in Miami on Wednesday ultimately ended in frustration, but there’s no denying that the reigning Cy Young Award winner showed his top level form in the contest. Scherzer fanned 11 Marlins on the game, giving him nine double digit strikeout games so far in 2017.   In his time with the Nationals, Scherzer has 33 such games including 13 last season.

13

Scherzer is not the only Nats’ starter doing special things so far in 2017.

With his seventh win of the year on Tuesday against the Marlins in his hometown of Miami, lefty Gio Gonzalez allowed three or fewer earned runs for the 13th time in his 15 starts on the season.  Gonzalez’s 3.0 WAR is the ninth highest total in the National League this, and the fourth highest among pitchers.  Only teammate Scherzer (3.9), Robbie Ray of Arizona (3.5) and Clayton Kershaw (3.2) lead Gonzalez in that category.

14

Trea Turner had five hits, scored four times and drove in two runs in the Nats’ rout of the Reds on Saturday. The game marked the 14th time a Nationals’ hitter has had five hits in a game.  Only Yunel Escobar (with three, all in 2015), Ian Desmond and Denard Span have had more than one five hit games in their time wearing a curly W.

25 

The Nats lost two out of three games in Miami last week, but they still have a National League high (tied with Colorado) 25 victories on the road so far in 2017.

The Nats’ road winning percentage stands at .625 on the year. If Washington can maintain that pace, the 2017 squad will shatter the 2012 team’s .593 percentage (48-33 record) in games played away from home.

38

If you blinked while watching Friday night’s Nats’ win over the Reds, you may have missed Daniel Murphy’s laser shot home run in the sixth inning of that contest.

The home run was the 100th of Murphy’s career, and the 38th in 802 at bats as a National.  In his time in Washington, Murphy has hit a home run every 21 at bats. In 3,354 career at bats as a Met, the sweet swinging second baseman averaged a home run every 54 at bats.

78 

Washington’s recent trip to New York was a smashing success, as the Nats won three out of four games to reaffirm their dominance against their divisional rivals to the north.

The Mets were able to win the finale of the series, but it took a sterling effort by starting pitcher Jacob deGrom to do so. deGrom allowed three hits and one unearned run in eight strong innings to beat Washington 5-1, posting a 78 pitching game score in the process.  deGrom’s gem gave him the highest pitching game score by any Nationals’ opponent so far this season.

451

Anthony Rendon is a five tool player, and he’s having a top level season so far in 2017.  The smooth swinging infielder has hit .296 with 14 homers, 47 RBI and a .948 OPS so far.  On Friday, Rendon took his power to another level with a career long 451 foot home run blast to left center field in Washington’s 6-5 win over the Reds.  Only Ryan Zimmerman, with a 455 foot round tripper on April 29, 2017 at Nationals Park against the Mets, has hit one farther so far this year.

Nationals by the Numbers- June 17th

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Reigning Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer struck out 10 in eight innings to lead the Nationals to  7-2 victory over the New York Mets on Friday June 16th.  

This week’s Nationals by the Numbers looks at some of the major events coming out of a week of inter-divisional games, first at home in a disappointing series against Atlanta and then at Washington’s home away from home in Flushing, New York in the first two games of its four game set against the Mets.

.740

For the Mets and their perpetually angst ridden fan base, the site of the Washington Nationals invading Citi Field cannot be comforting.  Since 2012, Washington has won a staggering 74% (40-14) of the games played between the two teams at the home of the New Yorkers.  Washington’s win on Friday night extended its winning streak at Citi Field to five games, and gave the Nats 11 wins in their last 14 contests there.

.909

One of the main reasons for the Nats’ dominance at the Mets’ ballpark has been the performance of Gio Gonzalez while pitching there.   Gonzalez’s sterling effort in Washington’s 8-3 victory on Thursday moved his career winning percentage at Citi Field to .909 (10-1).   In 15 games at the park, Gonzalez has posted a 1.69 ERA.

1

Since 1994 when baseball switched to its current three divisions in each league format, this year’s Washington Nationals’ team is the first National League squad to hold a double digit lead (the Nats are currently 10 games ahead of Miami in the NL East) in its division at the end of play on June 16th.

Only three other teams have achieved such a lead by June 16th.  This year’s Houston Astros stand 11 games up in the AL West, the 2001 Seattle Mariners led the AL West by a staggering 20 games on June 16th of that season and the Cleveland Indians held a 10 game advantage in the AL Central as of the conclusion of play on June 16, 1999.

1.076 

When the Washington Nationals selected Brian Goodwin with the 34th pick in the 2011 Major League Draft, the franchise had big plans for the left-handed swinging, speedy outfielder.  Goodwin’s arrival at the Major League level may have taken a little longer than usual but if his recent performance is a guide, he may be in the Majors to stay.

In 42 at bats so far in June, Goodwin has put up an impressive 1.076 OPS with three doubles, a triple and four impressive home runs.

7

The Nationals allowed five home runs to the Braves in an 11-10 loss at Nationals Park on June 12th, marking the seventh time the Nats have given up five or more long balls in a game.  The only other time the Nats have given up five plus home runs in a game at Nationals Park came on September 20th of last season, when Arizona hit five balls out in a 14-4 victory.

The most round trippers surrendered by Nats’ pitchers in a game is the six given up to Cincinnati in the Reds’ 15-0 thrashing of Washington on April 5, 2013.

12.1

 

Max Scherzer’s 134 strikeouts, which includes 10 in last night’s impressive showing in New York, leads the National League, as does his 12.1 SO/9 mark.

Since 1913, there have been only nine instances where a starting pitcher who qualified for his league’s ERA leadership has posted more than 12 strikeouts per nine innings pitched in a season.

Randy Johnson did the trick nine times in his Hall of Fame career, with Pedro Martinez, Kerry Wood and the late Jose Fernandez (in 2016) joining Johnson in the exclusive club.

Like Scherzer, Boston’s Chris Sale is bidding to crash the party this year. Sale has a Major League best (for starter) 12.36 mark so far in 2017.

18

In the Nats’ 10-5 victory over Atlanta on June 13th, Ryan Zimmerman hit a solo home run off of the Braves’ R. A. Dickey in the first inning and followed that up with a two run homer off of the knuckle ball specialist in the sixth to put Washington on top for good in the topsy-turvey contest.  The two homer game was the 18th of Zimmerman’s career, the most for any National.  Oddly, the Nationals are only 8-10 in games where Zim has homered two or more times.

The only other National with double digit multi-homer games is Bryce Harper with 12.  A pair of Adams, LaRoche and Dunn, are next with eight each, with Jayson Werth’s six such games putting him fifth on the list.

Zimmerman (at Baltimore in May 2013), Harper (v.s. Miami at Nationals Park on May 6, 2015) and Dunn (July 7, 2010 at home against San Diego) are three of the five Nationals’ players with three home runs in a game.  The other two players on the exclusive list are Alfonso Soriano, who homered three times against Atlanta in April 2006, and Anthony Rendon, who hit three out against the Mets on April 30th of this year.

249

With a National League leading 103 home runs so far this year, including five so far in their two games in New York this week, the Nationals are on pace to hit a team record 249 in the 2017 season.  The high mark for home runs in a season by the Nationals is 203, set in last year’s National League East winning campaign.  Only the New York Yankees (with 108) and the Houston Astros (with 104) have more round trippers than Washington so far this year.

 

Nationals by the Numbers- June 11th

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Gio Gonzalez was sharp on Saturday allowing only one run and fanning nine in six innings pitched, but saw his bid for his sixth win of the year fall away as the Nats blew a two run ninth inning lead and fell to Texas 6-3 in 11 innings.

This week’s edition of Nationals by the Numbers highlights efforts by the two of the team’s star powered starting rotation, the team’s fleet footed leadoff man, the strong group in the middle of the Nats’ lineup and some ups and downs for the team’s much maligned bullpen.

1.236

There are two outs and the team needs a big at bat.  Who do you want to see at the plate for the Nats?  So far this year, you rarely can go wrong if either Bryce Harper or Ryan Zimmerman are up for Washington.

Harper has put up a Major League seventh best 1.236 OPS in his plate appearances with two outs to date this year.  The Nats’ rightfielder has nine homers, 24 RBI and .473 on base percentage in such appearances.

Zimmerman is not far behind, with his 1.208 mark checking in at the 11th best in the Majors.  Zim has six homers and 22 RBI with a .391 batting average in two out opportunities.

Other Nats with solid two out OPS figures so far this year include Daniel Murphy (.928), Adam Lind (.875) and the injured Adam Eaton (.871).

1.66

Gio Gonzalez did his part to put a curly W in the books yesterday, throwing six innings of one run ball with a season high nine strikeouts against a talented Texas lineup.  Unfortunately a Nats’ bullpen collapse prevented Gio and the Nats from picking up the win, but the game was another example of the lefty’s dominance at home in 2017.

In his 43 innings pitched at Nationals Park this year, Gonzalez sports a very impressive 1.66 ERA with a 9.3 SO/9 mark.  All of that great pitching has given Gonzalez only one win at home so far this year.   Gio is 4-1 on the road, but his ERA away from Nationals Park stands at 4.38 and he has a 7.1 SO/9 figure.

2.8

Among position players, take a guess as to which National sports the best Wins Above Replacement number so far this. It isn’t the team’s super talented rightfielder, its rock solid triple crown candidate at first base or its hit machine playing second.   No, it is third baseman Anthony Rendon whose 2.8 figure trails only Max Scherzer’s 2.9 WAR among Nats players.

Rendon’s gold glove level defense, his ability to draw walks (he has 35 free bases against only 34 strikeouts this year) and his improved power bat (he has 13 doubles, one triple and 11 homers for a .522 slugging mark) have made him one of the National League’s best performers in 2017.

4.6

Nats’ reliever Shawn Kelley has allowed eight home runs in 15.2 innings pitched for an alarming 4.5 home runs per nine innings pitched figure so far this year.  Since 1903, only Kirby Yates of the 2015 Tampa Bay Rays has a HR/9 mark in excess of 4.0 in a year when he threw 20 or more innings (Yates 2105 S0/9 was 4.43 as he allowed 10 long balls in 20 1/3 innings pitched).

Kelley and his bullpen mates have allowed a total of five home runs this year that have brought in three or four runs, including the grand slam Kelley surrendered to Matt Joyce of Oakland last Sunday.  In the entire 2016 season, the Nats’ pen allowed only six such home runs.

It hasn’t been all doom and gloom for the Nats’ pen in recent weeks.  Over his last six appearances, veteran Oliver Perez has given up no hits and one walk while fanning seven in 3 1/3 innings pitched.  Perez picked up a big save in Monday’s 4-2 win at Los Angeles against the Dodgers, earning his first save as a National and his first overall since 2013.

11

Speedy shortstop Trea Turner stole a career high three bases in Thursday’s Nats’ win over Baltimore, giving him 11 games with multiple steals in his career.  Only Nyjer Morgan with 12 multiple stolen base games has more as a National.   Turner’s 56 career steals has him tied for the sixth highest mark for the Nats since their inception in 2005.  Ian Desmond, with 122 bases swiped, is the all-time leader for Washington.

21

Few players have been more consistent at the plate over the past two seasons than Nats’ second baseman Daniel Murphy, and the sweet swinging lefty has been showing his a-game of late.

In his 48 at bats since May 29th, Murphy has 21 hits for a .438 batting average.  On the year, Murphy has 24 multi-hit games after putting up 56 in the 2016 season.

38

Those of us attending this afternoon’s Texas-Washington matchup with Max Scherzer on the hill may be watching a lot of Rangers’ batters take the long slow walk back to the dugout following frustrating at bats.

In his last three starts, Scherzer has 38 strikeouts including a season high 14 against the Dodgers in a June 6th victory.  The game was Scherzer’s seventh 14 plus strikeout game of his career, including four as a National.  Since 2015 when Scherzer donned a Nationals’ uniform, only Chris Sale and Clayton Kershaw (with five each) have more such games.

 

June 4th In Nationals History

during a game at Nationals Park on June 4, 2013 in Washington, DC.

Adam LaRoche celebrates scoring the winning run on Steve Lombardozzi’s sacrifice fly in Washington’s 3-2 comeback victory over the New York Mets on June 4, 2013 at Nationals Park.  

Coming off an amazing 2012 season in which the Nationals shocked the baseball world by winning 98 games to capture the National League East title, hopes were high in Washington as the 2013 season began. The Nationals had fortified an already strong roster by trading for lead off man and centerfielder Denard Span, had added a veteran closer in Rafael Soriano and brought in solid starter Dan Haren to add to a young starting rotation that was already one of baseball’s bests.

Things did not start out well for the Nats in Davey Johnson’s final year at the helm of the team. Washington stumbled out of the gate and stood at 28-29 entering play on June 4, 2013, seven games behind the first place Atlanta Braves.

Facing the Nats this day four years ago was a New  York Mets team that had also experienced problems in the early part of the 2013 season. The Mets came to Washington for a two game set sporting an unimpressive 22-32 record after having just been swept in a three game trip to Miami, being outscored by the Marlins 24-8 in the process.

On the mound for Washington in the game was Jordan Zimmermann, who was en route to his perhaps his finest season in a Nats’ uniform. The stoic righty finished 2013 with a 19-9 record and a 3.25 ERA, tying St. Louis’ Adam Wainwright for the most wins in the National League. Zimmermann’s effort earned him a fifth place finish in National League Cy Young Award voting that year.

Zimmermann did not disappoint on this evening,  going eight innings and giving up only four hits while striking out four Mets.  Unfortunately he left the game trailing 2-1, as errors by Zimmermann and Adam LaRoche gave the Mets two unearned runs in the top of the fifth.

With Mets closer Bobby Parnell looking to end the Mets’ three game losing skid, the heart of the Nats’ lineup ensured that the New Yorkers’ nightmare was far from over.  Ryan Zimmerman led off the bottom of the ninth with a double, and advanced to third on a wild pitch. LaRoche atoned for his fifth inning error with a single to drive in Zimmerman, and the score was tied at 2-2.  Ian Desmond, who had homered in the bottom of the second, continued the rally with a double to move LaRoche to third.  With their options limited, the Mets chose to walk Roger Bernadina to set up a force at any base.   Steve Lombardozzi was next up for Washington, and the scrappy infielder battled Parnell to a 2-2 count before hitting a liner to left field that was deep enough to score LaRoche with the winning run in a thrilling victory for the home team.

The 2013 Nats would never gain traction until the season’s final months in which they played .630 ball in winning 34 of their final 54 games.  Washington finished 10 games behind Atlanta in the East, in large measure due to the Nats’ losing 13 of the 19 games played between the teams.