After yesterday’s 4-1 win, I was alerted to an interesting fact: the Nationals have scored three or four runs just 17 times, while they have scored two or fewer 50 times and five or more 40 times. Compare that to the Brewers, who have scored just 23 more runs than the Nats, but scored three or four runs 30 times in the same number of games. When the Nats do score, they score in bunches, but more often, they hardly score at all and lose. That’s why today’s game was so encouraging: the Nats were able to score in a bunch of different ways in a bunch of different innings, but without needing to score a ton of runs. But it’s pretty late in the season to be figuring out how normal teams score runs, even though Bryce Harper‘s power is returning and Jayson Werth is staying hot. The Braves won their eight straight, but the Nats are just 6.5 games back of the second wildcard, and claiming that is not so far-fetched. But things are dire, and it is more likely that the Nats are simply destroying their own draft position now.
Most Important Nationals Hit: Bryce Harper’s solo home run (+11.7%)
This was the quickest of the ways the Nats scored. Leading 1-0 in the sixth inning, Harper led the frame off with a 3-1 bomb against Burke Badenhop, the former Marlin. The homer is Harper’s third in eight games, a record that is especially notable given that Harper homered in his first at-bat off the DL on July 1st and did not homer again until July 25th. His season average has now jumped to .279 after dropping as low as .263 on July 21st.
Most Important Nationals Pitch: Norichika Aoki‘s ground into double play (+8.3%)
Although Jordan Zimmermann did not look as in-control as he often does, he was able to get out of any trouble he put himself into. He opened the third inning by hitting Rickie Weeks with a pitch, but managed to escape the trouble in the next at-bat by inducing a double play from Aoki. That was the only GIDP Zimmermann induced, but he made the Brewers go 0-8 with runners in scoring position despite putting an unusual number of runners on for him.
Champ of the Game: Zimmermann (+35.0%) returned to form, sort of. He pitched six shutout innings with just four hits and five strikeouts, but walked an unusually high four batters. His lack of control is uncharacteristic, but he’ll take it if it means shutout appearances. Weeks (+12.9%) was 2-4 with two doubles and a hit by pitch.
Chump of the Game: Adam LaRoche (-6.7%) was 0-3, giving him one hit in his last 26 at-bats. For the Brewers, Aoki (-18.1%) was 0-4, with three of those outs coming with Weeks already having reached ahead of him. The GIDP didn’t help either.