The past week has been a very mixed one for the Washington Nationals. The week began on a high note, with a 9-2 demolition of the Marlins, who returned the favor the next day by scoring six runs in the first two innings against Stephen Strasburg. The Nats finished the series like good teams do however, to take two of three from the floundering fish.
The next challenge of the week was a four game series against the Cardinals. The first game featured Taylor Jordan against Adam Wainwright, which for the most part went as expected- the Cardinals took the opener 8-0. In the next game Gio Gonzalez played the role of the stopper and held the Cardinals to just one run in a solid 3-1 win.
Game three of the series on Saturday just felt like a vintage 2013 Nationals game. Jordan Zimmermann threw seven innings and gave up just one earned run. The Nationals’ downfall however came in the second inning when Johnny Peralta hit a routine ground ball to third. With Allen Craig on first, Rendon tried to start a double play but instead threw the ball just wide, pulling Danny Espinosa off the bag. After Kolten Wong grounded out for the second out of the inning, Tony Cruz singled to score Craig and Peralta. With the pitcher, Lance Lynn, up next for the Cardinals it looked like the inning was over. Except Lynn doubled down the right field line, scoring one more additional run. While it wasn’t technically the game winning run, it is definitely the most avoidable, and in a game that was decided by one run, unearned runs make all the difference. All in all the Nats lost 4-3…and yes, this is the game where Bryce Harper was benched for a lack of hustle.
Game four of the St. Louis series almost became more frustrating than game three. The Nationals went 2 for 12 with runners in scoring position and left a total of 17 runners on base. Fortunately two things happened for the Nationals. First, there was this guy named Stephen Strasburg on the mound, who held the Cardinals to two runs, and then turned it over to the bullpen (Stammen, Blevins, Soriano). Second, the implosion of Seth Maness happened.
Maness battled control problems as he gave up two hits to the the seven and eight hole hitters, Espinosa and Lobaton, then walked the pinch-hitter, Nate McLouth, to load ‘em up for Denard Span, who hit a sac fly to win the game in walk off fashion.
The Nats “won the week” and now sit at 11-8 going into Monday night’s game against the Angels. That puts them on pace to win about 93 games. They are off to a good start but still need to sure up some small but important areas to be successful.