harperhomer06122012

Nationals Win Fifth Straight and Move To 14 Games Over .500

The Washington Nationals earned their fifth straight win on Tuesday, all of them against teams from the American League East, with the latest victims being the Toronto Blue Jays. Coming off of an impressive series in Boston that caused baseball fans across the country to take notice, the Nats have now split or won each of their last four series. They haven’t lost a series yet in June, which many considered to be among the most challenging on their schedule.

Bryce Harper stole the show once again, as he went three-for-four with a monster home run and a bunt single. He’s a remarkably versatile player who is putting up insane numbers. Harper is now hitting .307 and is sporting a .947 OPS. This is no longer a “small sample size” situation; he’s had 172 plate appearances in the majors. Harper is an elite MLB player right now.

Though Chien-Ming Wang looked uncomfortable throughout the day, and the Nats pitchers continued to allow warning track out after warning track out, they were able to avert disaster despite Jose Batista’s 18th home run on the season. Ross Detwiler and Craig Stammen came out of the bullpen and did their jobs by not giving up any additional runs. Though for Detwiler, much of that was a stroke of luck. Four of his five outs were deep, deep fly balls. Let the battle for the No. 5 spot in the rotation continue between Wang and Detwiler.

Jhonatan Solano hit is first career MLB home run to left field, giving the Nats an insurance run in the top of the seventh. In limited opportunities as Jesus Flores’ backup, Solano has done quite well. He’s 4-for-10 with a homer on the season and has thrown out 33% of base stealers from behind the dish. He got a nice dose of the silent treatment after his first career MLB hit, too.

With your standard Sean Burnett hold and Tyler Clippard save and 4-2 Curly W, the Nats continue to draw interest from national writers and the DC fan base. The Stanley Cup Finals have ended and the NBA Finals will end soon, which means it’ll be three plus months of nothing but baseball. If the Nats can draw in casual DC sports fans with even more wins, they may draw them in for good.

Some Thoughts:

- As Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post pointed out, Harper’s .947 OPS “would be the highest for a teenager since at least 1900” if he can keep it up for the rest of this season. It’s a tall order to ask of anyone, let alone a 19-year-old, but if anyone can do it, I’m convinced Bryce Harper can.

-The Nats are 14 games above the .500 mark for just the second time in their history. They were 19 games above .500 in their 2005 Inaugural Season. This team is not the same as that one, to say the least. They’re much, much better.

- I don’t know about other fans, but I’m still having trouble wrapping my head around the fact that the Nats can be this good. I know they are. Every win, every stat, and every conceivable metric tells me this is sustainable, but it’s hard to believe we could be watching a special year in 2012. But if you can believe it, I’ll start to, too.

About Joe Drugan

Managing editor of The Nats Blog and co-host of the Nats Talk On The Go podcast.

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