Washington Nationals Rapid Reactions: Dominant Starting Pitching Fuels Weekend Sweep


The Washington Nationals finished up their weekend series of the Pittsburgh Pirates Sunday afternoon as the home team dominated their way to a three game sweep. Even though the Nats’ offense putting up 19 total runs over the three game series, the theme of the weekend proved to be shutdown starting pitching.

Rookie Joe Ross got things started Friday night, going 7.1 innings and allowing only one earned run on six hits. He struck out 11 batters and walked one. He became only the third rookie in Nationals history to record double digit strikeouts in a game, after John Lannan (2008) and Stephen Strasburg (2010). He earned his second win of the season, putting him at 2-1 with a 2.66 ERA over three starts. Unfortunately for Ross, per Matt Williams, the rookie will be sent back down to triple-A once Stephen Strasburg returns from the Disabled List.

More from Max Scherzer

Saturday, Max Scherzer took the mound, putting together the best pitching performance ever by a Washington National. Coming off a start against the Milwaukee Brewers in which he threw a complete game one-hit shutout and struck out 16 batters,  Scherzer followed up that magnificent performance with his first career no-hitter. He was one strike away from a perfect game, but he hit pinch hitter Jose Tabata in the elbow with a slider and had to settle with a no-no. He struck out ten batters in the win and has struck out 26 combined batters and walked only one in his last two starts.

Following Scherzer’s dominant performance, left-hander Gio Gonzalez was lights out, going seven shutout innings while only allowing four hits and walking two Pirates. The aspect of that start that was so significant about Gonzalez however, was while he only earned four strikeouts, he was able to induce 15 ground ball outs compared to only two fly ball outs. Given a nine run lead in the first inning, Gio settled in and took care of Pittsburgh’s lineup very efficientl.

Over the entire weekend, Nationals starters put up a stunning combined stat line: (3-0), 0.39 ERA, 0.56 WHIP, .130 BAA,one run, ten hits, no home runs, three walks, 25 strikeouts over 23.1 innings pitched. Former MVP-winner Andrew McCutchen went 1-for-9 with six strikeouts in the series. Yes, the offense may finally be rounding back into form, but this team is built on starting pitching. If the Nationals can continue to get performances like this weekend, especially when Stephen Strasburg returns to the rotation, then the sky’s the limit.

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