The Washington Nationals closed out their four-game set against the Philadelphia Phillies this afternoon with a 4-1 win. After a shaky start, the Nats are on a roll after winning three out of four games against the Phillies. The offensive woes that plagued the club to start the year seemed to have righted themselves. Plus, the starting rotation is still the best in baseball and starting to exert their will on opposing teams.
Today, Stephen Strasburg showed how dominant that rotation can be. Stras went 7.1 innings, allowing only one run. He struck out seven batters, and walked two. He was excellent and in control for most of the afternoon as he picked up his first win of the season.
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Denard Span made his return to the lineup after his stint on the DL following surgery to fix a core muscle with Michael Taylor going down to triple-A Syracuse. . Span went 1-for-5, but his only hit was the single that started the two-out rally in the bottom of the fifth. Ian Desmond followed Span’s single with a double of his own driving in his fourth run of the year.
Jayson Werth kept the line moving with a single to center scoring Desmond. Bryce Harper was then intentionally walked, a strategy the Phillies have used to only marginal effectiveness this series. Ryan Zimmerman would make the Phillies pay by doubling in Werth, making the score 3-0.
The Nats tacked on an additional run in the bottom of the seventh on another Zimmerman hit. Desmond started things off with a walk and Werth moved him over with a ground out. Zimmerman then capped his 2-for-4 day with a single to bring in Desmond.
The bullpen was fantastic and did not let Strasburg’s excellent performance go to waste. Matt Thornton came in relief of Stras in the eighth and proceeded to strike out Cody Asche and then force Jeff Francoeur into a fielder’s choice ground out to end the inning. Drew Storen then came on and worked a scoreless ninth to earn his fourth save of the season.
The Phillies could only manage to push across one run against a dominate Strasburg after a Odubel Herrera double and a Freddy Galvis single in the top of the eighth, but Thornton shut down any chance of a rally.
The Nationals needed a good four-game set against the Phillies to right the ship and they got exactly what they needed. Strasburg has been struggling a bit this year, but he brought his A-game today and was almost unhittable.
The club is also getting healthy with Denard Span joining the team today the Nationals are now only missing Anthony Rendon from the top of the order. Yunel Escobar did miss today’s game with a groin injury, but he could be back in the Nats lineup on Tuesday.
Up next, the Washington Nationals continue their home stand against the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday. You can catch the game on MASN at 7:05 PM ET. Gio Gonzalez (1-1, 5.11 ERA) will take the mound for Washington against Lance Lynn (1-1, 1.64 ERA) for the Cardinals.