Trailing 5-0 early, the Washington Nationals (75-54) exploded in the later innings, scoring 14 runs after the third inning and eventually blowing out the San Francisco Giants (68-61) for the series win, 14-6.
The Nationals finished their homestand an unbelievable 9-1, and are winners of 12 of their last 13 games. The Atlanta Braves’ loss in Cincinnati means the Nationals lead the NL East by eight games, the largest division lead in baseball (h/t to my dad for that observation).
Almost more incredible than winning nine of ten games in a homestand was the fact that the Nationals had to come from behind in six of those nine games. In a homestand that saw a ten-game winning streak come to an end and the Nats win five of six in walk-off fashion, a comeback turned beatdown would only be a fitting ending.
This game seemed like one big party, and it felt like that after the final pitch, but a poor performance from Stephen Strasburg put the Nationals in the hole they clambered out of. He gave up home runs in the first and second innings and three runs in the third en route to one of his worst outings of the year. He was pinch-hit for in the fourth, closing the book on a gruesome day for him: 4 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 4 K.
Fortunately, Strasburg’s teammates felt the need to pick their starter up. Adam LaRoche and Asdrubal Cabrera knocked back-to-back RBI doubles in the fourth to cut the lead to 5-2. After San Francisco added another run, the Nationals put their collective foot on the throat of this game with a massive sixth inning.
LaRoche led the inning off with a strikeout, but Ian Desmond homered to cut the lead to three runs again. The Giants lifted starter Ryan Vogelsong for reliever Jeremy Affeldt, and the Nationals absolutely teed off on him.
Affeldt faced five batters, and here is how they went: double, single, RBI wild pitch, RBI single, RBI double, single. The last double was from pinch-hitter Scott Hairston, scoring Jose Lobaton all the way from first thanks to a misplay from Michael Morse and tying the game.
Affeldt was pulled, and in came Jean Machi. He picked Denard Span off of first, but gave up a walk and two RBI singles to the first three batters he faced before striking Desmond out to end it. The Nationals went 7-for-8 with a walk against Giants relievers in the sixth, scoring six runs to turn a 6-2 deficit into an 8-6 lead.
As someone who knows the final score, you clearly know the Nationals were not done. Span drove in another run with a single in the seventh. Desmond singled home another, and Bryce Harper and Danny Espinosa (against a righty!) both hit two-run bombs in a five-run eighth. Rafael Soriano, surely eager to shed his reputation of indifference in non-save situations, threw a 1-2-3 ninth with two strikeouts.
The only other bad news after today’s game was side soreness for Cabrera, who is reportedly day-to-day. The Nationals will look to keep rolling as they roll into Philadelphia tomorrow.