While the injury bug has reeked havoc on the presumed Opening Day lineup for the Washington Nationals, the return to form for a couple of starters from injury or ineffectiveness have been the jolt the team has needed to extend a significant winning streak.
In Game one of a three game home set vs the rival Atlanta Braves, Stephen Strasburg returned to make his first start after a stint on the DL that lasted 21 days, pitched five shutout innings and Anthony Rendon tied a career high of four hits in the 3-1 victory. Strasburg (4-5) was resilient in his return, allowing four hits and a walk while striking out six . He allowed baserunners in four of five innings but left with his first scoreless start this season. Drew Storen loaded the bases in the life but wiggled his way out of trouble for his 21st save of the season. In Game two, Ian Desmond’s 11th inning sacrifice fly scored Bryce Harper from 3rd to pull out a 2-1 victory, Drew Storen had a chance to seal the deal in the 9th but blew only his 2nd safe opportunity of the season and wasting a scattered six hits in eight scoreless innings. Doug Fister’s second start from his own DL stint made history, by tossing seven innings of shutout ball, Nats starters set a team record with 41⅓ consecutive shutout innings, and buoyed by six runs in the first three innings, completed the sweep with a 7-0 victory for the team’s sixth consecutive win overall and eighth in a row over Atlanta.
Max Scherzer’s start to lead off the three game set in Philadelphia was highly anticipated. After two of the greatest starts in Nationals history, including only the second no-hitter in the 10 years the franchise has called Washington home, the biggest question going in was could he somehow replicate the previous dominance. His bid for history was denied by a double on a 1-1 pitch to the right-field wall by Freddy Galvis after 6 1/3 perfect innings and 16 retired batters in a 5-2 win for the team’s seventh in a row. Scherzer (9-5) allowed two runs and five hits in eight innings. Saturday’s matchup was rained out, albeit after 2 innings and a considerable rain delay. Because of that, Gio Gonzalez had to waste a start to the chagrin of Manager Matt Williams. The rainout forced a doubleheader on Sunday. And in the first game of the double header, Stephen Strasburg struck out a season-high nine in seven strong innings to lead the Nats to their eighth straight victory, a 3-2 win to take the series. Strasburg (5-5) allowed two runs on four hits with one walk in his second good outing since returning from the disabled list. Drew Storen pitched the ninth for his 23rd save of the season. Unfortunately, spot starter Tanner Roark was unable to keep the streak going with a pedestrian eight earned runs, 12 hits in only 3 1.3 innings in a 8-5 defeat.