After the Washington Nationals (13-11) were frustrated on offense Thursday, they made it up against the San Diego Padres (11-13), knocking in a season-high 11 runs on 17 hits while Stephen Strasburg tossed seven scoreless to win in a blowout, 11-1.
The Nats regressed hard to the mean, going 7-17 (.411) with runners in scoring position, a day after failing to get a hit in 16 at-bats with RISP Thursday. In fact, it was a day for regressions all across the Nats, as some struggling players returned to their excellent forms.
Strasburg’s (W, 2-2) ERA started to regress to the mean, but his strikeout numbers don’t look to be coming down any time soon. With seven shutout innings, he dropped his ERA over a run, to 4.24, and with 11 Ks, he raised his MLB-leading K/9 to an otherworldly 14.03. For reference, Yu Darvish led baseball last season with an 11.89 K/9. A.J. Burnett led the NL at 9.85.
Ian Desmond also did some regressing of his own. He entered the game hitting .200/.240/.356 and on an 0-13 skid. But he rebounded with a 3-for-5 day, raising his line all the way to .221/.257/.379, good for a 40-point boost in his OPS. Now at four straight games without an error, a streak he has not had since April 9, Desmond may finally be turning things around after a rough start on both sides of the ball.
Through two at bats, Bryce Harper had been the day’s offensive MVP. He was 2-for-2 with a triple, a run scored, and four RBI, helping break the game open in the third inning on a bases-loaded triple that put the Nats up 5-0. To compare, Harper entered the game with just five RBI on the season. But his evening was cut short when he injured his wrist or thumb sliding into third on his triple, and exited the game before the next half inning. Fortunately, Manager Matt Williams said postgame that x-rays on the thumb were negative and Harper “could have continued to play.” He will reportedly be checked on again tomorrow, but it sounds as though this is nothing serious.
One player who didn’t regress was Anthony Rendon, who had a career-high four hits to accompany two runs scored, two RBI, and a stolen base. He is now hitting .302/.346/.510, and has been an absolutely integral part of a Nats offense that sits second in the NL in runs scored.
Adam LaRoche also continued his own ludicrously high levels of production. He was 1-for-2 with two walks, and is the proud owner of a .321/.427/.519. His OBP is sixth in the NL, and his .946 OPS is 11th.
Even Nate McLouth got in on the regression action, going 1-for-2 as Harper’s replacement in left. He was just 2-for-29 entering the game, so any sign of a turnaround from him would be great, though a ground ball single up the middle doesn’t exactly constitute that.
Jose Lobaton kept raking, turning in a 3-for-5 day with two RBI and a run scored. He was hitting .171/.256/.257 on April 18, but is 10-for-22 over his past five games and now owns a .770 OPS. With his defense and arm, which has caught five of 11 would-be basestealers this season, he has filled in wonderfully for Wilson Ramos.
MLB finally rectified its grave error in the transfer rule interpretation today, returning to the original interpretation that a bobble on the transfer does not invalidate a prior catch. The rule change reared its head in the eighth, as Padres second baseman Alexi Amarista bobbled the transfer after a catch from shortstop Everth Cabrera, attempting to turn a double play. On Thursday, as F.P. Santangelo noted, Danny Espinosa would have been safe at second, but today he was out.