Game 96 Review- Nationals 4 Diamondbacks 3

during the MLB game at Chase Field on May 12, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona.

Bryce Harper watches his majestic home run blast off of Arizona rookie Anthony Banda in the first inning of yesterday’s Nationals’ 4-3 win over the Diamondbacks at Chase Field.

WASHINGTON 4 ARIZONA 3

NATIONALS- 58-38, first place in the NL East, 11 games ahead of Atlanta

WP- Roark (8-6)  LP- Banda (0-1)  SV- Doolittle (2)

HR- Harper Was (25)

If the first two games of this weekend’s series are an indicator, a Washington-Arizona post-season matchup would be intriguing. On Saturday, it was the Nationals earning a one run victory as strong starting pitching,  extra-base power from the team’s superstar and a shutdown effort from the bullpen did the job for the visitors.

STARS OF THE GAME

Striking out 11 and allowing only two runs in seven innings pitched, Tanner Roark was on his game last night.  Roark consistently worked ahead of the Diamondbacks’ lineup, and registered his fourth game of 2017 where he’s gone at least seven innings and allowed two or fewer runs (Roark had 15 such efforts in the 2016 season).

A rookie making his Major League debut has few tougher tasks than facing a red-hot former league MVP who seems intent on putting another such trophy on his resume. Arizona’s Anthony Banda found that out in a big way in the top of the first when Bryce Harper hit a booming 467 foot home run.  The home run was the second longest of Harper’s career, behind only his 481 foot blast at Colorado off of Christian Bergman last August.  Harper also contributed a run scoring double to the Nats’ effort.

STRONG EFFORT IN A LOSS

Despite giving up Harper’s home run the left-handed Banda showed promising ability in his debut, but A.J. Pollock was the Diamondbacks best player on the night.   The talented centerfielder went 2-4 for a triple and two runs scored.

NATS NOTES

Rookie Brian Goodwin had three hits, including a double, in five at bats.  Goodwin now has five three hit games this year. Among National Leaguers who have played 75 or fewer games in their careers, only Los Angeles’ Cody Bellinger (with six) has more.

Another Nats’ youngster who is starting to look as though he belongs in the Majors is infielder Wilmer Difo.  Difo had another hit last night, giving him a .395 average and a .490 on base percentage in games played in July.

Despite some slight bumps in the road, Washington’s new back end of the bullpen duo of Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle got the job done last night. Madson worked around a one out double to put up his third straight scoreless inning since joining the Nats.  Walking the leadoff man is usually not the right path to go down when trying to save a game, but Doolittle survived another free pass and a throwing error to nail down the victory.

UP NEXT

Stephen Strasburg takes his 10-3 record to the mound this afternoon against former Nationals’ farm hand Robbie Ray in a battle of All-Star hurlers.

Strasburg is 4-2 with a 3.28 ERA in his career against the Snakes, with a 3-2 mark and a 4.30 ERA in games played at Chase Field.  The fireballing righty has a 7.3 SO/9 record against Arizona in his career, the lowest mark against any opponent.  David Peralta is 4-6 with a homer in his career against Strasburg and Paul Goldschmidt has five hits in 16 at bats, while Daniel Descalso (0-6, two strikeouts) and Jake Lamb (0-6, three strikeouts) have struggled.

The left-handed Ray has surrendered three or fewer runs in 13 of his 18 starts this year, and has put up an impressive 145 strikeouts in his 112 innings pitched.  Ray has been especially tough on left-handed hitters, allowing them only three extra base hits (two doubles, one home run) in 77 at bats.  Two Nats who have had success against Ray in limited appearances are Difo (3 for 6 with a homer) and Ryan Zimmerman (3 for 5 with a double).

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Game 95 Review- Diamondbacks 6 Nationals 5

pollock 

Arizona’s A.J. Pollock scores from third with the winning run on Brandon Drury’s RBI single as the Diamondbacks beat the Nats 6-5 on Friday night in a battle of probable National League playoff squads.

NATIONALS 57-38, first in the NL East, 10 games ahead of Atlanta 

Arizona 6  Washington 5

WP- Rodney (4-3)  LP- Romero (2-4) 

HR-  Peralta AZ (10), Pollock AZ (4), Lamb AZ (23)

The Nationals began a three series stretch against potential playoff teams last night in Arizona, and dropped a tough one to the Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Washington battled back from a 5-0 deficit to tie the score in the eighth, but Arizona got the last laugh on a one out bases loaded single by Brandon Drury that was the game winner.  Here’s a look at some of the key happenings from game one of the series.

STARS OF THE GAME

A.J. Pollock went 3 for 5 with three runs scored, a home run and a triple to pace Arizona’s attack. The Diamondbacks’ centerfielder led off the bottom of the ninth with a triple off of Enny Romero to set the stage for Arizona’s walk-off win.

With seven career home runs against the Nats, the most he’s had against any non-National League West team, Jake Lamb is earning a reputation as a Nats killer.  The left-handed swinging third baseman was at it again on Friday, going 2 for 3 with a home run and two RBI.

The Nats eventually got to Arizona starter Zack Godley for four runs in 5.2 innings pitched, but the young hurler was impressive on the night. Godley registered a career high 10 strikeouts, and displayed a tremendous curveball that baffled the Nats’ hitters on occasion.

STRONG IN DEFEAT

Southpaw Matt Grace has flown under the radar to become a solid contributor in the Nats’ bullpen. Grace was amazing on the night, allowing only a scratch single and fanning three in 1.2 scoreless innings.  In his last four outings over four innings pitched, Grace has allowed no runs, only one hit and has struck out five batters.

NATS NOTES

Daniel Murphy broke out of an 0 for 11 slump with three hits in four at bats, a pair of doubles and a RBI. The three hit game was the 13th of the season for the Nats’ hitting machine, only two fewer than the 15 three plus hit games Murphy had in his sensational 2016 campaign.

In 87 career starts for the Nats, Max Scherzer has gone five or fewer innings only nine times.  The Nats’ ace’s five innings pitched was the fewest in a start since May 20th when he went five frames in Washington’s 5-2 loss to Atlanta.  Scherzer’s shortest outing as a National came on August 14, 2015 when he went only three innings in Washington’s 8-5 loss at San Francisco.

Bryce Harper went 1 for 3 with a run scored and a double and walked twice.  Harper’s two free passes give him 63 on the year, tied with Paul Goldschmidt of Arizona for the third most in the National League.  The Reds’ Joey Votto leads the way with 69 walks, and St. Louis’ Matt Carpenter is next with 66.  Harper’s .444 on-base percentage is the second best in the Senior Circuit, trailing only Los Angeles’ Justin Turner’s .467 mark.

UP NEXT

Washington’s Tanner Roark looks for his eighth win of the year tonight at Arizona, with lefty Anthony Banda making his Major League debut for the home team.

Roark is 1-2 with a 3.13 ERA lifetime against Arizona, and is 109 with a 1.80 ERA at Chase Field.  Jake Lamb is 2 for 8 with two homers against Roark and Chris Hermann is 2 for 3 with a homer, while Jeff Mathis is 0-9 with six strikeouts.

Banda was 7-5 with a 5.08 ERA at AAA Reno so far this year, and the Corpus Christi, Texas native gave up a whopping 15 hits and seven runs in five innings pitched in his last start against Salt Lake (Angels’ affiliate).