The Nationals finished off their most dominant road trip since moving to the district, taking the game 6-2 against the Toronto Blue Jays, sweeping the series, and taking the tour of the Northeast 6-0. The young kids you expect to control the game, Strasburg and Harper, were effective, but the talk of this one was recent call-up Tyler Moore.
At this point in the season the team is racking up the superlatives. Best record through 61 games of the Montreal/Washington franchise (38-23). Biggest divisional lead (4.5 games) since 7/6/05. First 6-0 road trip in franchise history. Strasburg became the first player in 2012 to reach 100 Ks. Over .600 winning percentage on the road, best in baseball. It’s quite a time to be a Nationals fan, so let’s dig into the game itself.
Aside from a tough inning in the 3rd, Stephen Strasburg was his typically dominant self, mowing down 8 batters while walking only 2. He threw a lot of pitches in the first inning, and the trouble came in the 3rd after a lead-off triple to Rajai Davis. Brett Lawrie knocked him in before Jose Bautista deposited a belt-high inside 2-0 changeup mistake deep in the left-field stands. Strasburg understandably stopped bothering with Bautista after that, walking him the next time up. He shut the Jays down over the next three innings, before being pulled after the 6th with a blister on the middle finger of his right hand. He didn’t appear particularly pleased with the decision, and it doesn’t appear to be serious. He’s currently listed as day-to-day. Craig Stammen was his usual reliable self, eating up 2 innings for the hold before Brad Lidge closed it out in a non-save situation. Strasburg got the win, improving his line to 8-1, 2.45, and 100 Ks.
Strasburg’s opponent, Kyle Drabek, left the game under much more ominous conditions, grimacing after throwing a pitch in the 5th and holding his arm gingerly to his body. He was ineffective through 4.1 innings, with 4 runs, 2 BB, and only 1 K. He took the loss, dropping to 4-7 on the year.
But you can’t tell the story of this game without Tyler Moore. Moore filled in for a dinged-up Adam LaRoche, making his first start at first base, and he made it a memorable one. Check out this line: 3-4, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 2R, the first multi-HR game for the Nationals this year. His other hit was a 2 RBI double to the wall in center field, the first RBIs of his career. Not too shabby. Moore had appeared lost at the plate with minimal playing time during his first call-up, but after his 2-4 game in Boston and this scorcher, he looks to have righted the ship.
Ian Desmond knocked in the only non-Moore run, drilling a long second-deck shot in the 8th off lefty Aaron Laffey. No recap is complete these days without Bryce Harper, but he didn’t do much, going 1-5 with 1 K and a couple of hard-hit, bad-luck outs.
Champ of the Game: Tyler Moore, no question. Welcome to the big leagues, kid!
Chump of the Game: Steve Lombardozzi. He had the only real 0-fer at the plate, going 0-4 with 2 Ks and 2 LOB.
Next Game: The Nationals are off tomorrow. On Friday, they open their most buzzed-about home-stand of 2012 against AL East powerhouse New York Yankees. LHP Gio Gonzalez (8-2, 2.35, 89 K) takes the mound against RHP Phil Hughes (6-5, 4.76, 63 K). The Nats have opened up single suite ticket sales for the weekend series, all but guaranteeing the first sell-out of the season. Rumor had it a few weeks ago that the first sell-out would feature Teddy’s first win in the Presidents’ Race. Stay tuned.