The Nationals successfully swept the White Sox with a 7-4 win in the final game of the series, and they remained an undefeated 6-0 at home on the season. It's another key win as the Nationals prepare to host their main rival, the Atlanta Braves, this weekend.
Dan Haren had a chance at redemption on Thursday after having a disastrous Nationals opener in Cincinnati in what ended up being the worst run differential in team history. He struggled quite a bit. His first home start was a different story. He gave up three runs on 10 hits, but not many of those hits were well struck. Haren allowed a base runner in each of his five innings pitched, but he did a nice job limiting the damage. Davey said about Haren's performance, "He's throwing the ball good. He's got good velocity, which is one of the things he was missing last year, but it's command. It's all about command, making your pitches. He was up a lot today."
The Nats offense decided to come alive once again, but this time with no long balls. It was well placed and well timed singles and doubles that got the Nats to score their seven runs. Adam LaRoche drove in Jayson Werth in the first to take an early lead before Haren gave up a run in the second to tie it up. Then, in the third, Span singled and stole his first base of the season, eventually scoring on a Bryce Harper single, and Harper later scored on an Ian Desmond sacrifice fly.
White Sox starter Dylan Axelrod really struggled in the fourth inning after Dan Haren smoked a double to the wall in right center field. Werth moved him to third on a single, and then Haren scored on a wild pitch that White Sox manager Robin Ventura thought hit Harper. It didn't, but then, for some inexplicable reason, Ventura decided to walk Bryce Harper intentionally to get to Ryan Zimmerman. Big mistake. Zimmerman smoked a double to right field, scoring Werth and Harper.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, the Nats got a rally going with Denard Span and Werth. Harper got another RBI, driving in Span, but Werth was thrown out going to third on the play to end the inning. It may have been an ill-advised decision to go to third, because you never want to make the third out at third, but on replay it looked like Werth was safe, despite the ball getting there way before Werth did.
Defensiely, Span made a few really nice running plays in center field, even as the wind kicked up more and more throughout the evening. He's shown his value at the plate so far early this season, but his defensive strength cannot possibly be understated.
Ryan Mattheus made a two inning appearance in relief of Haren and looked very good. He gave up a run on two hits, but he struck out three. It was a big spot for him, and he kept the Nats exactly where they needed to be. Tyler Clippard threw a perfect eighth inning, and Rafael Soriano looked good again, despite giving up a hit to Paul Konerko, as he earned his fifth save of the season in the ninth.
This weekend brings the big series for the Nationals, as the Braves come to down, but they certainly handled their business with the White Sox this weekend as they improved to 7-2 on the season.