The Nationals have scored 10+ runs four times this season. Three of those times are within the past nine days. After another onslaught today, the Nats’ offense is looking better and better. Bryce Harper is back to form, going 3-4 with two runs scored, a walk, and an RBI in the first game after breaking his 0-20 skid. Anthony Rendon hit his third major league home run. Despite the (entirely unjustified) booing he received after two tough outings, Drew Storenstepped in with two runners on and no outs and expertly retired the next three batters he faced. After Atlanta’s loss, the Nats are just four games back. It certainly seems like this team is finally playing like we all thought they could. The pitching has not been up to its own incredibly high standard in this past week, but many of those runs have done nothing but trim eight run leads to four run leads, like they did today. This week is solid proof of why the Nats aren’t dead yet, and anything can happen when you have 74 more games to play. For the first time all season, I’m comfortable saying this team has their Natitude back.
Most Important Nationals Hit: Ryan Zimmerman‘s grand slam (+23.6%)
The Nationals cracked open what had been a tie game in the bottom of the third. Robbie Erlin, who walked four Nats on the day, opened the inning by walking Stephen Strasburg. A sacrifice, another walk, and a single later, the bases were loaded for Ryan Zimmerman with just one out. He sent Erlin’s pitch deep to right center, turning a 1-1 game into a 5-1 one. The homer was his tenth of the season, but just his second at home.
Most Important Nationals Pitch: Chase Headley‘s RBI double (-whatever%)
Before the Nats busted out, they took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first with an RBI single from Harper. In the top of the third, the Padres got that run back. With two outs, Strasburg plunked Carlos Quentin, and Headley doubled him home to tie the game back up. This game was uncharacteristically bad for Strasburg, who allowed four earned runs in six innings while allowing seven hits, walking two, and hitting three (?!?) batters.
Champ of the Game: Zimmerman (+22.2%) was 1-4 with his grand slam, but also walked once and scored another run. Despite his throwing struggles during what seems like a down season, he has hit well enough (.279/.361/.467) to be mentioned by ESPN’s Keith Law as an All-Star snub. Headley (+9.2%) was 3-5 with his game-tying RBI and another run scored.
Chump of the Game: Stammen (-8.6%) has been surprisingly bad recently. After allowing two runs on five hits in 1.0 IP today, he has now allowed eight runs over 6.2 IP in his last six outings. He could simply be unlucky, or perhaps hurt. Erlin (-50.3%) was the next victim of the newfound Nats offense, allowing nine runs on six hits and four walks over just four innings.