Game 91 Review- Nationals 14 Reds 4

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Another day, another outburst by the Nationals offense against an over-matched Reds pitching staff.  This time it was National League leading hitter Daniel Murphy doing the key damage as Washington routed Cincinnati 14-4 for its third straight victory coming out of the All-Star break.

NATIONALS 14 Reds 4

Record- 55-36, 9.5 games ahead of Atlanta in the National League East

WP- Roark (7-6)  LP- Bailey (2-3)

HR- Murphy, Was 2(16), Lind, Was (7), Rendon, Was (19), Lobaton, Was (3)

There are slow-pitch softball teams who don’t put up the runs at the level the Washington Nationals have this season.  The Cincinnati Reds are the latest team to run into the Nats’ buzz saw of an attack, falling on Sunday by a 14-4 score. Here’s a look at the key players and numbers from the Nats’ third straight win this weekend and their fourth victory in a row overall.

STARS OF THE GAME

Daniel Murphy is a student of hitting who works at his craft with a dedication matched by few.  Over the past few seasons Murphy has not only been a student, he’s been a teacher of lessons that have been tough to stomach for opposing pitchers.   The Cincinnati Reds know that all too well after today, as Murphy went 3 for 4 with two home runs and five RBI to lead the Nats to an easy win.  The two homer game was the second of Murphy’s time in DC, with the first coming against, of course, the Mets in June of 2016.   Murphy’s day lifted his National League leading batting average to .348, 20 points ahead of teammate Bryce Harper’s .328 mark.  Only Houston’s Jose Altuve, at .350, has a better average than Murphy among all qualified Major Leaguers.

While Murphy, Harper, Anthony Rendon and Ryan Zimmerman are typically the Nats’ hitters doing most of the damage, this year’s squad has contributors up and down the roster.  On Sunday, several of those unsung contributors stood out.  Wilmer Difo had three hits, scored three runs, stole a base and drove in a run.  Adam Lind also had three hits including a home run, scored two runs and drove in three.  Even former Reds outfielder Chris Heisey got into the act against his old team on Sunday, going 3 for 5 with two runs scored and a RBI.

NATS NOTES

Starting pitcher Tanner Roark had a strong outing, allowing only three unearned runs and four hits in six innings pitched to earn his seventh win on the year.  Roark and three relievers held the Reds without an extra-base hit.

Washington scored 14 or more runs for the seventh time this year and the 22nd time in Nats’ history.   Washington also registered its 17th five home run plus game since 2005, and its third of the 2017 season.  Three of those 17 games have come against Cincinnati.

Rendon’s long home run to left field was the 19th of season for the talented third baseman, only two shy of career high of 21 set in 2014.  Rendon’s 19 this season have come in 317 fewer at bats than it took him to hit 21 three seasons ago.

2017 has been anything but a smooth campaign for veteran Nats’ reliever Joe Blanton, but the righty has shown signs of improvement recently. Blanton pitched  a scoreless inning with three strikeouts to post his eighth straight appearance without giving up a run.

STRONG IN DEFEAT

A pair of Reds had good games at the plate. Outfielder Jesse Winker picked up a hit, scored a run and walked three times in five plate appearances.  Nats’ killer Scooter Gennett also was up to his old tricks, going 2 for 5 with three runs driven in.

UP NEXT

The Nats go for the four game sweep on Monday afternoon, with All-Star pitcher Stephen Strasburg taking the mound.  Strasburg, who will be looking to pick up his 10th win in the matinee game, is 1-1 with a 6.75 in four career games started at Cincinnati.   He’s fared well in the past against Zack Cozart (0-10 with two strikeouts) and Eugenio Suarez (0 for 5, two strikeouts), while struggling against Gennett (4 for 8, three home runs).

Opposing Strasburg will be veteran Scott Feldman, who is 7-6 with a 3.94 ERA on the year.  The tall righty has won five of his last seven decisions, and has a 3.00 ERA in home games in 2017.  Stephen Drew (7-16, two triples, two homers) and Lind (three homers and six RBI in 23 career at bats) have done well against Feldman, while Rendon (1 for 6 with two strikeouts) has had difficulty.

Game 90 Review- Nationals 10 Reds 7

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Anthony Rendon homered twice and drove in six runs to lead the Nationals to a 10-7 victory over the Reds at the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati on Saturday night.

NATIONALS 10 REDS 7

Nationals Record 54-36, first place in NL East, 9.5 games ahead of Atlanta

WP- Scherzer (11-5)  LP-  Castillo (1-2)   SV- Grace (2)

HR- Rendon 2(18),  Raburn (2), Gennett 16

Saturday’s game two of the Nats’ four game series with the Reds was not as clean a contest as the team’s 5-0 win on Friday, but the bottom line is that the Nats won in a contest where they continued to show their lineup is a force to be reckoned with. Here’s a look at some of the highlights (and a few lowlights) from the game.

STARS OF THE GAME

Every time Nats’ ace Max Scherzer takes the mound, something exceptional is bound to happen.  The fiery righty was on his game again on Saturday, albeit with a few bumps in the road that he smoothed over by overwhelming the Reds as he has many opponents before them. Scherzer threw six shutout innings and struck out 10 to earn his 11th win of the season, and lowered his ERA to Major League best 2.01 in the process.  Scherzer’s brightest moments in the game came in the first and third innings, where he worked out of two on, no out jams to keep the Reds off of the scoreboard until his mates began their destruction of the Reds’ shaky pitching staff.

Anthony Rendon homered twice, including his second career grand slam, and drove in six runs to pace Washington’s 10 run attack.  Rendon has hit safely in nine straight games, and is 15-31 with five runs scored, five doubles, two homers, 11 RBI and seven walks in those nine contests.

STRONG IN DEFEAT

Cincinnati’s Scooter Gennett may be small by Major League Baseball standards, but he certainly comes up big when he plays against the Nationals. Gennett drove in four runs, three coming on his career high 16th home run in the ninth inning, to give the Reds a chance for a miracle comeback. In 18 at bats against the Nationals this year, Gennett has nine hits, three home runs and seven RBI.  His six career home runs against Washington is the  most he’s hit against any opponent.

NATS NOTES

Washington’s Ryan Raburn contributed to the team’s offensive fireworks with a seventh inning solo home run, the 93rd of his career and the second in his time as a National.  The blast came on an no ball, two strike pitch from the Reds’ Michael Lorenzon, making the round tripper the first Raburn his hit in career when down 0-2 in the count.

Excuse the members of the Reds’ pitching staff if they feel queasy when the see players wearing the Nats’ curly W enter the batters box to face them. In Washington’s last ten games against the Reds, the Nats have scored in double digits five times, have put up 81 runs and have hit an astounding 24 home runs.

Trevor Gott’s nightmare outing in the bottom of the ninth marked the sixth time that a Nationals’ pitcher has allowed five or more runs without recording an out in the contest. Prior to last night, former National Felipe Rivero was the last player to achieve the dubious mark. Rivero gave up six runs without getting anyone out in a 7-3 loss at San Diego on June 18, 2016.

The news regarding the Nats’ bullpen was not all bad last night.  Enny Romero struck out the side in the bottom of the seventh, giving him nine strikeouts in his last four innings pitched over four outings.  Romero has not been scored upon in 15 of his last 18 appearances. Fellow lefties Oliver Perez and Matt Grace also registered one, two, three innings, with Grace becoming the first National with saves in back to back games since Koda Glover did the trick at San Francisco on May 29th and 30th.

UP NEXT

Tanner Roark allowed three or fewer earned runs in nine of his first 13 starts, but has done so only once in his last four times as the starting pitcher. The righty will look to get things moving in the right direction again when he takes the mound later today.  Both Gennett (5-15, home run, four RBI) and Tucker Barnhart (5-10, double) have had success against Roark in the past, while Billy Hamilton (2-14) and Zack Cozart (1-12) have not.

Opposing Roark will be lanky Texan Homer Bailey, who has allowed only two earned runs over his last two starts after surrendering 14 (including eight at Washington last month) in his first two.  Adam Lind is 3 for 3 with a home run against Bailey in his career, while Bryce Harper has only one hit (a triple) in eight at bats against him.