The Nationals have been very lucky over their previous four games to be playing teams that have struggled and disappointed just as much as they have. The Phillies have lost 17 of 21 games since the All-Star break, while the Giants have crumbled since leading the NL West at 23-15 on May 12th and recently dropped behind the Nationals in the runs scored rankings. The Phillies have had pitching troubles, with Cole Hamels having a tough season and Roy Halladay missing most of the year due to injury. The defending champion Giants have had problems of their own, such as the continued ineffectiveness of Tim Lincecum and the newfound ineffectiveness of Ryan Vogelsong. All three teams could console each other and bemoan their problems this season. However, on the bright side, the Nationals are faring the best of the three teams. They have the best record, now just two games under .500, and just won their fourth straight against the other two teams. Fans of all three would gladly forget this year, but at least the Nationals are working to ensure that our regret is, at least, weaker than theirs. Despite a rain delay, a dugout argument, and an injury, the Nats played a good game and won today, which is really all that matters at this point in the season. Just winning today and winning tomorrow, with no regard for any bigger picture.
Most Important Nationals Hit: Adam LaRoche‘s two-run home run (+23.4%)
LaRoche’s bat has been much quieter this season than last (.238 batting average), but he is notoriously streaky and looks as though he may be at the beginning of another characteristic stretch of slugging. He has reached base in every game in August, with two home runs and five RBI before yesterday’s game. He added another bomb and two RBI against the Giants, teeing off against Guillermo Moscoso to put the Nats up 3-1.
Most Important Nationals Pitch: Buster Posey‘s reach on error (-14.9%)
Leading 1-0 in the fifth inning a series of screw-ups allowed the Giants to clamber back and tie the game. Tanner Roark got out the first two Giants he faced, but gave up hits to the next two to put runners on the corners with two outs. Posey then sent a grounder to Ian Desmond, who misjudged it and allowed it to go by. The Giants scored to knot the game at 1, with an unearned run for Roark, but he would escape the inning by getting Hunter Pence out up next.
Champ of the Game: LaRoche (+29.3%) hit the pivotal home run, but that was not his lone contribution. Overall, he was 2-4 with two RBIs and a run scored. Posey (+16.6%) was just 1-4 with no RBIs, runs scored, and one walk, but one of those outs was the all-important error that allowed the Giants to score.
Chump of the Game: Ryan Zimmerman (-17.0%) was 0-3 with a walk, and grounded into two double plays. All three outs he made were with men on base. Moscoso (-19.6%) was lucky to get off allowing comparatively little damage: in two innings, he allowed two hits, two walks, and just two runs. However, none of his pitches looked good and he escaped a first-and-second, no-out jam in his first inning.