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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.