Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Nats Offense Stays Patient Against Shields
One of the keys for the Nats’ offense heading into this game that I talked about in the series preview was to work up the pitch count on Padres’ starter James Shields. Last night, the Nats were able to do just that as Shields threw 121 pitches over 5.2 innings. Those 121 pitches were the most that Shields has thrown in any start this season.
Last night, in addition to Span’s return to the lineup, Yunel Escobar was back after missing two games due to a neck injury. Every Nationals player, including Strasburg, saw at least 13 pitches during the game. By working up Shields’ pitch count, they were able to draw four walks.
Shields was given a 2-0 early, but Wilson Ramos hit a knuckle curve over the wall in left for a two-run homer to tie the game at two. After Escobar’s RBI double in the third gave the Nats the lead, they made Shields work for every out. The Padres’ starter would end up throwing a combined 55 pitches in the fourth and fifth innings.
With Span back in the lineup, he is going to be a player that will make the opposing pitcher work and wait for their pitch to hit. While the Nats were only 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position, they were able to get the big hits when they counted. Those hits were Ian Desmond’s RBI double in the fifth and Ryan Zimmerman’s grand slam in the sixth.
If the Nats can keep that strategy up the next two games, they will continually get into a Padres’ bullpen that has been one of the worst in the National League this season. Keep that strategy going and the wins should follow.
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