After a dreadful week with the bats, the Washington Nationals’ offense finally broke through against Padres pitchers in an 11-1 rout of the Friars at Nationals Park Friday night. The Nationals recorded a season-high 17 hits and nearly matched their run total from the past four games combined, a major improvement for a team that hasn’t had much offensive success in the last couple of weeks.
But as good as the offense was, perhaps the best performance of the game came from Stephen Strasburg, who made one of the best starts of his career. The right-hander allowed seven hits but threw seven scoreless innings while striking out 11 batters. Strasburg has allowed just two runs in his last two outings and appears to have fixed the issues that led to his early season struggles. With today’s win, Strasburg now leads the league in strikeouts with 57 and lowered his ERA to 4.24.
It helped that the Nationals offense provided plenty of run support for their right-hander, something we don’t usually see when Strasburg take the mound. The Nationals started their offensive onslaught against Padres starter Robbie Erlin in the bottom of the first inning when Anthony Rendon scored on a double off the bat of Ian Desmond, making it a 1-0 game. Bryce Harper made it a two-run game later in the inning with a RBI single that scored Adam LaRoche from third.
Harper had been struggling mightily with the bat for several games but was locked in from the first inning on Friday, and he was only getting started. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the third inning, Harper pounced on a 3-2 fastball by Erlin and drilled a line drive to the scoreboard, clearing the bases with a triple. Harper then scored on a single by Jose Lobaton, giving the Nationals a 6-0 lead.
As crucial as Harper’s triple was to the game, it didn’t come without a price. Harper jammed his left thumb as he slid into third base and was removed an inning later–a bad sign for a team that has already been depleted by injuries to key players. In his post-game press conference, however, manager Matt Williams said that x-rays on Harper’s thumb had come back negative and that he would, at least for now, avoid a trip to the disabled list. Harper will be reevaluated in the morning and we will provide updates on his injury as they become available.
#Nats Manager Matt Williams said Bryce Harper left tonight’s game w/a jammed left thumb. X-rays were negative. He will be reevaluated tmrw.
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) April 26, 2014
Despite losing Harper for the remainder of the game, the Nationals’ offense continued to punish the Padres, scoring five more runs over the last three innings of the game. The Padres finally got on the board in the top of the eighth inning on a RBI single by Nick Hundley, but that was all the offense San Diego managed against a dominant Washington pitching staff and the Nationals took game two of this four-game set.
They’ll be back at it tomorrow afternoon as Tanner Roark looks to lead the Nationals to a second consecutive victory for the first time since April 9-10 against the Marlins. First pitch is scheduled for 1: 05 p.m. and, as always, be sure to check back here before the game or follow us on Twitter (@DistrictonDeck) for lineups and a preview of the game.
Tags: Washington Nationals