Thursday night the Washington Nationals used three home runs and a solid start from their ace, Max Scherzer, to edge the New York Mets 5-4 in a tight game.
Except for two hanging sliders, that left the park, Scherzer had another solid outing. He wasn’t his sharpest but was able to grind through the start. And that is what we have come to expect from the Washington Nationals ace.
The veteran righty went seven innings, giving up five hits and just three runs. Jose Bautista, who is 11 for 23 against Scherzer, drove in two of the three runs. Thankfully, this game, he got the run support he hasn’t had lately.
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The Nats offense came into the game on a 12 scoreless inning streak. In the first inning, Anthony Rendon quickly broke that with a two-run home run. He would hit his second bomb, a solo shot, off Mets starter Steven Matz in the fifth.
While Bryce Harper would continue his all or nothing season, adding a towering two-run moonshot in the seventh. And they would need all of that power to hold off a Mets late inning surge.
Yes, the offense scored five runs. But there were many wasted opportunities to add on throughout the game. Hitters could only go 1 for 6 with runners in scoring position and they left nine men on base.
In the end, the home runs were just enough to overcome the lack of clutch hitting. A constant issue that has plagued the Washington Nationals all season.
Herrera continues to struggle
Kelvin Herrera has pitched 8.2 innings as a Washington National and given up three long balls, including one Thursday night. In the eighth, after the home run, he issued two walks but was able to take advantage of the Mets hitters aggressiveness to get out of the inning and preserve the one run lead.
He has now allowed runs in three of his last four appearances. Also, he has seen an increase in walks and at times a lack of control of the fastball. With Sean Doolittle on the disabled list, Davey Martinez needs Herrera to get back to throwing the way he did prior to the trade.
Murphy looking better
A positive that may not show up in the box score, Daniel Murphy looked like his knee is responding well as he plays more. He was easily able to make plays ranging both to his right and left, as well as charging the ball. In the second inning, Murphy was able to range to his left and make a diving stop and throw out Jose Reyes at first.
Offensively he reached base three times, including two walks. These are good signs as the more comfortable he is at second base will allow Martinez to keep his bat and Matt Adams in the lineup. Also, if the Washington Nationals are going to get back to first they will need the old Murphy to help lead the way.
In game two, it’s Tanner Roark who gets the ball for the Washington Nationals. He’ll need to improve drastically in order to maintain a rotation spot and guide his team to victory.