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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.