Wins look so much cooler in the Stars and Stripes jerseys…. This post is officially an initiative to makes those the regulars.
The Nationals clinched a series win against the Mets last night, getting to Cy Young candidate R.A. Dickey for three runs over seven innings. Dickey managed to rack up just two strikeouts, walking three and giving up a home run in the process.
The Nats got to Dickey from the very beginning, as Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper (more on him later) led off the top of the first with consecutive hits. Harper’s double would give Ryan Zimmerman runners on second and third with no outs, and Zimmerman would accept the RBI present from Harper, plating Werth for the first Nationals run of the game.
The Nationals would then momentarily fall behind in the ballgame in the fifth inning, as Jordan Zimmermann gave up three consecutive one-out hits to Ruben Tejada, Daniel Murphy and David Wright, good for two Mets runs.
However, these are the Cardiac Nats! We know they’ll find a way! And as always, they did.
After a shutout sixth inning, eventual winner Tom Gorzelanny would be pinch-hit for with one out in the top of the seventh by Tyler Moore. Moore would inherit a one out, one on situation, and execute to perfection; taking a pitch from Dickey over the left-field wall to reclaim the 3-2 lead for Washington.
Rookie Christian Garcia would come in to reliever Gorzelanny in the bottom of the seventh, and continued his dominance out of the bullpen. Of the four batters he faced/retired, Garcia struck out three. However, it would take him 18 pitches (11 for strikes), forcing him out of the game in favor of Michael Gonzalez with one out in the eighth.
Gonzalez would team up with Drew Storen to make it out of the eighth with the lead still intact, but even if they hadn’t, it wouldn’t have mattered.
The bats came back in the top of the ninth, looking to add some cushion for Tyler Clippard. They would add two runs on four hits and a walk, both runs coming on RBI singles a la Kurt Suzuki and Harper. Harper’s RBI would cap a 4-4 night, the first four-hit performance of his career.
Clippard would end up thanking Suzuki and Harper in the bottom of the inning, as a solo shot by Scott Hairston would make the score 5-3 with only one out. However, Clippard would bounce back and retire two of the next three batters to cap his 31 save of the season.
Champ of the Game: Bryce Harper wins the award tonight, as he collected the first four-hit game of his career. He also only left one runner on base, which put into the perspective of the Nationals stranding 24 as a team, makes him instantly sound MVP-ish.
For the Mets, Ruben Tejada picked up three hits from the lead-off spot, also scoring a run.
Chump of the Game: Michael Morse continued his struggles at the plate, going 0-5 with two strikeouts from the five-hole, stranding a team-high seven base runners. If this keeps up, look for Tyler Moore to see a few starts down the line so Morse can clear his head.
For the Mets, Frank Francisco continued his own struggles, failing to record an out while giving up two runs on three hits. Had he not done so, Hairston’s homer would’ve tied up the game.
Unsung Hero: Bryce Harper gets media attention, Kurt Suzuki…not so much. Suzuki was the other half of the two-run effort in the ninth inning, scoring Danny Espinosa on a single to center field. Suzuki finished the day going 2-4 with the RBI and two runs scored.
For the Mets, Scott Hairston continued to do what was asked of him, coming up clutch off the bench yet again. Hairston’s one-out pinch-hit home run in the ninth inning pulled the Mets back within two runs with two outs to work with.
Next Game: The Nationals officially enter the post-Strasburg era of their season tomorrow, as they trot John Lannan out to make his third start of the season. Lannan will look to lead the Nats to a series sweep over the Mets. Probable Match-Up: Lannan (2-0, 3.46 ERA) against Collin McHugh (0-2, 3.60 ERA).