Grand Slams are cool because they don’t happen that often. The Nationals hitters managed their second in two games as they beat the Marlins 7-1 in Thursday’s game at Nationals Park.
Stephen Strasburg was outstanding, as expected. The weather was the kind in which he usually pitches well–75 degrees and sunny. Since it was a 4:00 p.m. start time for the game, the temperature did not drop significantly during the game. Good weather for a California native.
Strasburg pitched 6 and 2/3 and struck out 12. He only had difficulties in the first inning and the seventh. In the first inning, Christian Yelich singled, then stole second. The throw went into the outfield where Nate McLouth started for the Nats. The ball got past McLouth and Yelich went to third. Stephen had a runner on third and nobody out. Derek Dietrich then hit a comebacker to the mound. Strasburg knocked it down and got Yelich caught in a rundown. Yelich was out and Dietrich was on second. Stephen struck out Giancarlo Stanton and induced a flyout from Garrett Jones to get out of the inning without damage.
Tom Koehler started for the Marlins, and pitched well. He went six innings and only gave up two runs. The scoring for the Nats off Koehler came in the third inning. With two outs, Koehler walked Anthony Rendon, and then gave up a home run to last night’s hero, Jayson Werth. The Nationals led 2-0 and never trailed the rest of the way.
Strasburg was on cruise control until the sixth inning. Koehler singled and after striking out Yelich, Strasburg hit Dietrich. Now there was one on and one out and Stanton was up. Strasburg struck him out and then struck out Garrett Jones to get out of the jam.
It appeared Strasburg would get through seven complete innings, but in the seventh he gave up a deep home run to Marcell Ozuna. Then with two outs he walked Jeff Mathis and that was the end of the day for Stephen. He left the game holding a 2-1 lead and was in line for the win as long as the bullpen could make the lead hold up.
The bullpen did its job. Jerry Blevins appeared in relief of Strasburg and got pinch hitter Greg Dobbs to ground out to end the top of the seventh inning. Blevins and Aaron Barrett combined to pitch a scoreless eighth.
The Nats broke the game wide open in the eighth inning for the second game in a row. Marlins pitcher Arquimedes Caminero was victimized by Nats hitters and his own control problems. Rendon doubled, which extended his hitting streak to nine games. Werth singled, and the Nats were in business with runners on the corners and nobody out. Werth stole second during Adam LaRoche’s at bat. LaRoche lined out to first. Kevin Frandsen drew a walk in a pinch hitting appearance. With the bases loaded, Bryce Harper also drew a walk for an RBI. Ian Desmond came to the plate with the bases still loaded. As is typical with Desmond’s approach at the plate, he swung at the first pitch and missed it. He didn’t miss the third pitch sent up by Caminero. Desmond got all of it for a grand slam, the Nats second in as many games. That made the score 7-1.
The Marlins pulled Caminero and went to Dan Jennings to try to end the inning. Sandy Leon ground out, and Danny Espinosa doubled for his second hit of the day. Denard Span, who had taken over in center late in the game for defensive purposes, ground out to end the inning.
Raphael Soriano closed the game in a non-save situation. He had been warming up during the eighth inning when the score was 2-1, so Matt Williams sent him in to finish the game.
Do you think during the flight to Atlanta, Werth and Desmond will tell the rest of the team that anyone who has a grand slam this year get to sit in first class? They should.