I want to hate everything about this week. It deserves to be hated. Stupid week. The Nationals went 3-4. Bryce Harper hustled a little too much, hurt his left thumb sliding into third base, and is now out two weeks. Taylor Jordan started two games. Against the Angels, the offense looked atrocious, and then against the Padres the team stranded a platoon of base runners in an extra innings game that they gave away.
Two things happened, though, that made this week enjoyable despite the above: Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche saved the team from an Angels sweep and then Tanner Roark pitched so well on Saturday that he had me believing a perfect game was possible. He finished with a three-hit shutout, a career high 8 strikeouts, and now has an 18 inning scoreless streak. I also firmly believe that a little of that Roark magic remained through Sunday, allowing Jordan to not be horrible. Tanner Roark, consider me a fan.
Apparently, other things happened this week too.
Harper and fellow phenom Mike Trout played against one another in a regular season game for the first time, and then Albert Pujols hit home runs number 499 and 500 off of Jordan. Like the rest of his teammates, Harper struggled to hit in the Angels series while Trout collected five hits and scored three runs, so advantage Trout, but Werth and LaRoche made the series tolerable after leading an improbable comeback in the final game. The 4-1 deficit heading into the bottom of the ninth might as well have been 100-1 with the way the Nats had been hitting, gathering just three hits in each of the first two games.
The win against the Angels seemed to inspire the Nats batters heading into the Padres four-game series. In the first game, they recorded 16 hits. Things were great! Oh, then came the inability to drive any of those runners in, so the Nats also stranded 14 runners in a 4-3 loss. In the second game, the Nats recorded 17 hits. Things were great! This time they scored 11 and won going away. In game three, Roark did what Roark does and the Nats won 4-0. Things are greater! On Sunday, the offense sort of went back to being blah, and the Nats lost 4-2, splitting the series and finishing their 11-game home stand 5-6.
Things have been better.
For the third time this year, Stephen Strasburg recorded double-digit strikeouts in a game, setting down 11 Padres in seven innings of work on Friday. Before the end of April, he’s already matched his total from last season. As a whole, the starters pitched well this week, striking out 39 in 42 1/3 innings with an ERA of 2.12 while the relievers tossed 23 1/3 innings with an ERA of 2.70.
LaRoche saw his 10-game hitting streak come to an end on Sunday, but he for the week he hit the ball well hitting .333 with a home run and driving in five. Ian Desmond also hit the ball well, finally. He had eight hits on the week, and after bottoming out at .200 on Thursday raised his average to .242 by weeks end. Jose Lobaton hit .350 for the week, hitting his first home run when he started the comeback against the Angels in the ninth.
After twenty straight days of play, the Nats get two days off this week, Monday and Thursday, with a two game series at Houston and then a weekend series at Philadelphia.