Entering Wednesday night’s game against the Mets, the Nationals knew they needed a win to stay six games behind the Cincinnati Reds and within striking distance of a playoff spot. And a win they got, behind a dominant performance from second half star Dan Haren (9-13) and a clutch showing by the bullpen over the final three innings. The Nats were able to battle against the filthy repertoire of Mets starter Zack Wheeler (7-5) and scratch out a 3-0 victory.
While Dan Haren had pitched well for the most part in the second half of the season, his last two starts prior to Wednesday were awful. After allowing 12 runs over a combined 5 2/3 innings in his last two starts, Haren allowed only one hit over six shutout innings against the Mets while collecting his ninth win of the year. The only hit came in the fourth inning, when Mets right fielder Juan Lagares grounded a base hit into left field. Haren was able to consistently locate his cutter and split to both sides of the plate, an ability to do so he had lacked in his last two showings on the rubber.
While Zack Wheeler had everything working against the Mets, Ryan Zimmerman was able to take advantage of the one true mistake pitch the right hander threw. In the top of the sixth inning, Wheeler got ahead of the Nats third baseman bending a slider in for strike one and then firing a mid 90’s fastball on the corner for strike two. Wheeler tried to put Zimmerman away with another slider but left the breaking ball up out of the zone. Zimmerman barreled the ball up and lined it just over the wall in left field for a 1-0 Washington lead. Wheeler ended up outlasting Haren on the mound, allowing just the one run over seven innings while striking out six Nationals.
Washington was able to scratch out two more runs in the eighth inning when Anthony Rendon doubled off of reliever Vic Black to score Adam LaRoche and Ian Desmond for a 3-0 lead. Soriano pitched a scoreless ninth for his 41st save, striking out Lucas Duda to end the game.