The Washington Nationals entered action against the Miami Marlins on Sunday with a chance to win yet another series, this time a four-gamer that included a double header. With Stephen Strasburg on the mound, the Nats took it to Ricky Nolasco and the Fish in a 4-1 victory giving them their 65th win of the season to retain a three-game lead in the NL East.
Strasburg had the type of outing where he was dominant, yet you remembered that he’s still recovering from Tommy John surgery. He made it through six innings, giving up no runs on just three hits in 91 pitches. He truly dominated the Marlins roster, which consists of more Quadruple-A players than they’d like to have. He mowed down six Marlins with one looking and stayed out of any serious jams.
Early on, Strasburg did too much nibbling around the zone and took some batters into deep counts that should have been easy for him to handle. Manager Davey Johnson has said before that he was concerned about Strasburg’s confidence in his own pitches, and we saw a bit of that again early on Sunday, but he resolved those issues well and showed him dominant side. He earned his 12th win and brought his ERA down to 2.97.
For the Nats offense, they milked all of their offense in the second inning as they scored four runs and batted around in the order. It started with a Jayson Werth single, who is now hitting .291 on the season and has been extremely hot since his return, and Danny Espinosa getting plunked just above the knee on a curveball.
When Strasburg came up, he drive a line drive through between first and second base that scored both Werth and Espinosa, giving Strasburg his sixth and seventh RBI of the season. He now leads MLB pitchers in RBI, and in WAR, batting average, and slugging percentage for all pitchers with more than 10 plate appearances. Strasburg has a real chance at winning the NL Silver Slugger for pitchers this season with his numbers, even with a shortened season due to his innings limit.
Adam LaRoche continued to swing a hot bat, driving in the other two RBI in that second inning. LaRoche has raised his batting average by 24 points in the last 14 games, and has hit .442 during that time frame. He went 0-for-4 in game two of Friday’s doubleheader, or he’d be riding a hitting streak during that time frame. He’s driven in an incredible 16 runs during that stretch, too.
Drew Storen came in to earn his first save of the season, and it was a friendly sight at Nationals Park. The crowd was loud and regularly yelling “Drew!” during the inning. It never ceases to amaze me how much fun it is to be a game with a team that’s playing this well.
A few notes:
- Michael Morse extended a 14-game hitting streak on his bobblehead day with a single in the fifth inning.
- Bryce Harper made an outstanding diving catch on a fly ball to center from Marlins second baseman Donovan Solano. It got Strasburg out of the second inning and helped settle the pitcher in for the next four innings. Harper also had a less-than-stellar moment when he slammed his bat on home plate in the fourth inning after striking out. The bat shattered, and he had to pick up the pieces. It looked like Harper said something to home plate ump Fielden Culbreth about the incident, possibly an apology, before singling in the sixth inning.