The Washington Nationals returned home to a fairly sparse crowd of 23,269, but those that were there were in for a treat. Whether they preferred offense or pitching, there was a lot of both. The Nationals shut down a strong St. Louis Cardinals offense with Edwin Jackson’s incredible start.
Jackson was at his absolute best on Thursday night against his former team, and it rivaled his complete game two-hitter way back on April 14. It was an eight inning performance, where he gave up just four hits and two walks. He gave up one unearned run and struck out 10 Cards batters. It was the most dominating stuff I’ve seen from Jackson in person this season.
With his ninth punchout in the sixth inning, Jackson struck out the 1069th batter of the season for Nats pitchers, which set a team record since arriving in DC. Jackson isn’t a traditional strikeout pitcher, though, and stamina is his biggest asset. If you were looking for one thing to fault Nats starters for, it’s their struggles to make it deep into games. In 2012, starts have only made it eight innings or longer six times. Jackson has four of them. Gio Gonzalez has the other two.
Bryce Harper had another great night, but he was overshadowed by Edwin Jackson tonight. After Jayson Werth walked to start the home half of the first inning, Harper hit a 2-0 pitch into the Nats bullpen for his 15th home run of the season and third blast in two days. I have never seen a line drive hit that hard that actually left the ballpark. It was an absolute rocket shot, and it got the Nats a lead they would never relinquish. He almost hit another in his next at-bat, falling just short of the 402 sign in deep center field. In the seventh, Harper tracked down a ball hit to straight away center by Daniel Descalso, further solidifying his defensive improvement.
- Jayson Werth is absolutely locked in. He went 2-for-4 tonight and hit his first home run since returning from surgery on his broken wrist. Werth is hitting .305 on the season, and has been an essential part of the Nats continued success.
- Five Nats had multi-hit nights again tonight as they tattooed Jaime Garcia for six earned runs. The Cards starters don’t look quite as good without Chris Carpenter, but it’s hard to light up a staff like the Nats did tonight.
- With their 79th win, the Nats are just one win shy of their 2011 win total with more than a month of baseball left. The exponential improvement the Nats have shown from year to year is extremely cool to look see, and if this trend continues, the team will improve by 10 or more wins for each of the last three seasons.