Washington Nationals: Bounceback performance needed from bats
By Blake Finney
Mike Foltynewicz pitched an absolute gem against the Washington Nationals on Friday night. Now the Nats need to bounce back on offense in the next two games.
The Washington Nationals bats continued to struggle against the Atlanta Braves’ pitching on Friday. The story on the night was Braves’ right-hander Mike Foltynewicz, who allowed just two hits and one walk in a dominant shutout.
The Braves pitcher twirled a gem to continue the incredible run that he’s on. In his last five starts, including Friday, he has a 0.56 ERA. So the Nationals shouldn’t be too disheartened that he put it all together against them.
But after a second straight below-par performance, and the Braves’ two weakest rotation members due next, they need a bounceback showing. With Brandon McCarthy going Saturday and Anibal Sanchez on Sunday, the Nats can still salvage a series split.
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McCarthy has a 5.02 ERA and is allowing a career high 11.3 hits per nine innings this year. And with the Nats lefty-heavy lineup they could get to the right-hander early and ease concerns about their offense.
Gio Gonzalez will oppose McCarthy, and has been putting up potential all-star numbers so far. With a 2.10 ERA this season, this matchup would seem to favor the Nats and they need to capitalize.
Strasburg unravels late on
Even with Foltynewicz dominating, Stephen Strasburg was able to match him stride for stride for the majority of the game. Through six innings, Strasburg had only allowed four hits, walked none and struck out eight batters.
But then in the seventh, a dominant outing unraveled in a hurry. He allowed back-to-back singles to open the frame, then after an error by Matt Adams let the Braves open the scoring, things got a lot worse.
Strasburg hung a curveball to Dansby Swanson, who duly dispatched it deep into left-field for a four-run lead. It left the Nationals a mountain to climb late on, and one they couldn’t overcome. On the whole, this was a positive outing for the Nats second ace, so expect more innings like the first six moving forward, instead of innings more like the seventh.
Trea Turner hit streak up to lucky 13
Aside from the pitching, Nationals shortstop Trea Turner managed to extend his hitting streak with two outs in the ninth inning. Turner poked a base hit through the right side, that neither Johan Carmargo or Swanson could get to, for just the Nats second hit of the night.
Although he now has a hit in each of the last 13 games, it’s not like he’s been sizzling hot at the plate. He’s just 16 for 57, which equates to a .280 average, during the hitting streak.
The longest streak in Nationals history is Ryan Zimmerman‘s 30 game run back in 2009, which doesn’t seem achievable for Turner at current pace. But in 2017 the Nats longest hit streak was Bryce Harper and his 19 game streak. So with a favorable set of pitching matchups coming up, Turner could better that mark.
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If the Washington Nationals can get their bats going on Saturday and grab a win, then they may be able to regain the momentum they’ve lost the last two days. And although this series isn’t make or break, a sweep would be a terrible outcome for this team.