As the new week started, The Nats, coming off a 2-0 Loss to lose the series vs the Mets, welcomed the team who defeated them in the National League Divisional Series last season, the St. Louis Cardinals. A three game series where you would have wanted this team to show some growth, seemed to press at every at-bat and wasted some solid pitching efforts by the starters because the bats just cant seem to get going. In Game 1, Dan Haren pitched 6 innings giving up 3 runs, not great but obviously enough to win, but not this game as the Cards won 3-2. It was the teams’ 4 consecutive home defeat.
In Game 2, Adam Wainright was just outstanding, showing everybody why he one of the truly great pitchers in the sport, out-dueling Ross Detweiler (who was outstanding himself, only giving up 2 runs in the 4th) with 8.1 innings of shut out baseball striking out 9 Nationals batters in a 2-0 victory for the Cards. This was also the Nats 6 consecutive home loss. The Twitterverse is now losing its mind because this just doesnt look like the team the fans all expected but we all have to remember its not a marathon, not a sprint. In the series finale, Stephen Strasburg toed the rubber looking to stop a couple of streaks, his personal 3 game losing streak, the team’s 3 gamer, and the 6 game home streak. He was unable to deliver as after a shaky 1st inning, because the bats decided not to show up again, he was on the unfortunately on the losing end of his 4th straight start by the score of 4-2. A 2nd 3 game sweep at home in a row was not what was expected, but again this is a long season and there is always a new series right around the corner, and that means a 4 game series rematch against the Cincinnati Reds, who defeated the Nats 2 out of 3 just 2 weeks ago at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati .
With no day off to wallow in self pity, Gio Gonzalez went out and pitched a masterpiece. In possibly the best pitched game in his career, Gonzales pitched 8 innings giving up only an opposite field Home Run to former MVP Joey Votto as the Nats started off the series in fine fashion defeating the Reds 8-1. The bats woke up as Denard Span and Danny Espinoza both had 3 RBI games and Bryce Harper hit his 8th Home Run of the season. With that Home Run, Harper set a new club record with 8 HRs in the Month of April. He continues to show that he may not just be the best player on the Nationals roster, but right now, playing better baseball than virtually anyone in the sport.
In Game 2, in a pitching duel for the ages, Jordan Zimmermann equaled Gio’s previous start with the number of hits given up (1) yet didnt give up a run and finished off his 2nd complete game of the season besting the Reds, Homer Bailey 1-0. Jayson Werth drove in the only run of the game in the 4th inning driving in, you guessed it, Bryce Harper who had smoked his 1st triple of the season in the previous at bat. Zimmermann’s ERA lowered to a solid 2.00 for the season as he improved to 4-1 on the season. In Saturday’s matchup, Dan Haren finally pitched a performance worthy of a victory, Denard Span made 2 of the best defensive plays of the season to save atleast 3 runs in the process, and Bryce Harper extended his record month with his 9th HR and his 18th RBI in the process (another team record) as the Nats won their 3rd straight 6-3. Span also had 2 hits on the day and Rafael Soriano pitched the 9th inning for his 7th save in 8 opportunties this season.
Player of the Week: Jordan Zimmermann
In 2 starts (1-1), he pitched a total of 14 innings giving up only 2 runs on 3 hits and only 1 walk. He has been the most consistent pitcher this season.
A trip to Atlanta on Monday to hopefully avenge the 3 game sweep of a week ago and our 1st trip to beautiful PNC Park to face budding star Andrew McClutchen and the Pittsburgh Pirates.