While it may not have been pretty, the Washington Nationals started to put out the flames of their slow start and three-game losing streak with their win over the Philadelphia Phillies this afternoon. In another strong start from Max Scherzer, the Nats were able to pull it out in extras, by a score of 4-3.
While the hitting may not have been timely for the team today, they put up a season-high nine hits, which is a big improvement from where they have been much of this season. They came into today’s game batting .183 as a team, which was worst in the majors. Today, they were 9-for-37.
Bryce Harper started the hitting early with a solo home run to left field in the top of the first. It was the second time in as many games that Harper has homered in a Max Scherzer start.
Scherzer seemed to enjoy pitching with an early lead, as he struck out six of the first 13 batters he faced.
Then in the top of the fourth, Ryan Zimmerman led the inning off with a sharp single to left. He promptly advanced to second on wild pitch, and then to third on a single from left fielder Clint Robinson. Wilson Ramos followed with a sac fly, giving the Nationals a 2-0 lead.
However, the Phillies got back in the game in the fifth with a run of their own. Scherzer walked the Phil’s pitcher Sean O’Sullivan with one out, and it came back to haunt him. O’Sullivan ended up coming around to score on a two-out single from Cody Asche.
Scherzer, however, came back and escaped any further damage with a clutch strikeout of Ryan Howard to keep the score at just 2-1.
Scherzer finished the day with six innings pitched, six hits allowed, one earned run and eight strikeouts. He has looked like an ace early and his ERA through two games is just 0.66.
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The Nationals bullpen would struggle once again though.
The game would stay even into the tenth thanks to perfect innings from Craig Stammen and Aaron Barrett. These two will be key in the Nationals bullpen going forward, so these innings were very good signs.
Finally in the tenth, the Nationals broke through with two more runs. Yunel Escobar got things going with a double to right. Bryce Harper then did a nice job of situational hitting, by grounding out to first, and advancing Escobar to third. With Zimmerman batting, Phillies pitcher Justin De Fratus threw a wild pitch to the back stop, and Escobar came home to score giving the Nats a lead.
After Zim grounded out, Clint Robinson doubled to center. Wilson Ramos then came through with a huge single, scoring Robinson, which ended up being the game winning run.
Clint Robinson was an afterthought for the Nationals roster coming into spring training. Now on the team, he as performed very well in his few opportunities with club.
In the bottom half of the inning, Drew Storen came on for the save, although it wouldn’t prove to be easy. Storen walked the first two batters he faced, before striking out Grady Sizemore for the first out of the inning. After a Chase Utley fly out, Odubel Herrera singled scoring Galvis and cutting the lead to one.
Storen was able to escape the jam though, by forcing Cesar Hernandez to ground out to Ryan Zimmerman. Zimmerman made a slick play going to his right, and then tossed the ball to Storen who was covering first for the win.
This game was never easy or in hand for the Nationals, but they managed to pull it out. This will be what they need to do going forward while they wait to have their full lineup healthy. They may rarely score more than three or four runs, which will mean having to grind games out. But, this team is capable of doing so and will have to going forward.