Tonight, the Washington Nationals continued a trend that has made them one of the best teams in baseball in terms of starting a game on the right note. With three first inning runs in their 4-1 win over the Padres, they have now scored 28 first inning runs, which is tied for the second most in the National League.
It was all the runs Max Scherzer would need as he shut out the Padres over his seven innings of work. The win secured the Nats a winning record on their West Coast road trip this week.
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Tonight, the Nats went up against Andrew Cashner and got on the board early. After a one-out double by Ian Desmond, Yunel Escobar , who was batting third with Jayson Werth out of the lineup, would line a base hit to right field to score Desmond for the first run of the game. He would go to second on the throwing error by Matt Kemp. After a Bryce Harper single, Ryan Zimmerman drove in Escobar on a RBI groundout to second.
With the score 2-0, still in the first inning, Wilson Ramos would extend his career-high hitting streak to 18 games with a base hit to center that drove in Harper and made the score 3-0.
In the fourth inning, Washington would tack on one more run against the San Diego right-hander. The inning started with a Danny Espinosa walk. Two batters later, Max Scherzer bunted the ball back to Cashner, who would then throw it away center field, allowing Espinosa to go to third. That would set up Span to drive him in on a sacrifice fly to left to extend the lead to 4-0.
Even though Cashner had his record drop to 1-7 on the season, he still had a solid outing for San Diego. He gave up four runs (three earned) on nine hits, struck out six batters and walked two over six innings. However, the San Diego offense could not give him any run support because Max Scherzer brought some of his best stuff to PETCO Park.
Scherzer (4-3, 1.75), who has now won his last three starts, threw seven scoreless innings, gave up four hits, struck out 11 and walked two on 104 pitches . The 11 strikeouts was a season high for Scherzer, who has now struck out ten or more batters in three of his last four starts. He retired the first ten hitters he faced before Will Venable drew a walk and Matt Kemp singled to left, his first career hit against Scherzer.
The Padres would have chances in the later innings to score runs, but Scherzer was able to use his fastball, which got up to 96 miles per hour, to get some key outs. San Diego went 2-for-9 on the night with runners in scoring position.
The key jam that Scherzer got out of to end his night came in the seventh inning. With runners on first and third and one out, he was able to get swinging strikeouts against pinch hitter and Nats killer Derek Norris as well as another pinch hitter, Abraham Almonte to end the scoring threat.
In the win, Bryce Harper went 2-for-3 with a walk. Harper now has 35 walks on the season and has reached base two times or more in a ball game for the tenth straight time. Span, Desmond, Escobar, and Harper all had multi-hit games tonight.
After Matt Thornton pitched a scoreless eighth inning, Aaron Barrett ran into trouble in the ninth. Barrett started the inning by walking Justin Upton. Later in the inning, with Upton on second due to defensive indifference, Alexi Amarista singled to left to drive in Upton. That would make Matt Williams go to his closer, Drew Storen, to face Norris. Storen would end up striking out Norris for his 11th save of the season.
Next Game: The Washington Nationals (21-17) will wrap up their four game series against the San Diego Padres (19-19) tomorrow afternoon at 4:10 PM ET on MASN2 as they look to win their sixth straight series. Stephen Strasburg (2-4, 6.06) returns to his hometown to take on Ian Kennedy (2-2, 5.92).
- Before the game, Jayson Werth told the media that his wrist is still sore and will sit out the final two games of the road trip. Last night, Werth was hit by a pitch in the left wrist in the second inning:
- Manager Matt Williams also told the media tonight that Fister has a flexor strain in his forearm, but his elbow is in good shape: