A quick breakdown of what I liked / didn’t like about the Nat’s four-day run at PETCO Park.
Game 1: 8-3 loss on Thursday night (May 14)
Game 2: 10-0 win on Friday night (May 15)
Game 3: 4-1 win on Saturday night (May 16)
Game 4: 10-5 win on Sunday (May 17)
What I liked:
1. The surge continues – This series concluded a 5-2 trip out west for the Nats, who improved to 15-4 since their 7-13 start.
2. More great offense – The bats were on fire for a third straight series. The Nats batted .309 (43-for-139), including going 16-for-45 with runners in scoring position, and totaled 16 walks.
Bryce Harper went 8-for-13 with six walks and a stolen base, blasting a solo homer in Game 2 and a three-run homer and a triple in Game 4. He now is batting .564 (22-for-39) with 22 RBI over his last 11 games. Over the last 75 seasons, only one other player compiled a batting average of .550 or higher with at least 22 RBI over a span of 11 games within a single season according to Elias: Colorado Rockies outfielder Larry Walker in April 1997.
Danny Espinosa went 5-for-14 with three walks, providing a two-run double in Game 2, another double in Game 3 and a three-run homer in Game 4. The switch-hitting Espinosa, who was supposedly abandoning batting as a lefty during spring training but ended up not doing so come the regular season, now has an .872 OPS as a left-handed batter this year. All five of his homers, six of his seven doubles, 12 of his 14 walks and all 13 of his RBI have come as a left-handed batter.
Denard Span went 6-for-14 with a stolen base over Games 1-3 before not playing in Game 4.
3. The starting pitching after Game 1 – Jordan Zimmermann tossed six scoreless innings in Game 2, recording six strikeouts.
Max Scherzer was awesome in Game 3, recording 11 strikeouts in seven scoreless innings. He gave up just four hits, two walks and a wild pitch.
Stephen Strasburg, coming off two hideous starts, was better though still not as good as he can be in Game 4: three runs in five innings on seven strikeouts versus five hits, a walk and a wild pitch on 91 pitches.
4. The bullpen – Nats relievers combined to allow four runs in 13 innings. Particularly impressive were Blake Treinen in Game 1 (one run in four innings, six strikeouts) and A.J. Cole in Game 2 (three scoreless innings on just one hit and no walks).
What I didn’t like:
1. Doug Fister’s Game 1 start and now stint on the 15-day disabled list – Fister allowed seven runs in two innings on eight hits (including two homers) and a walk, leaving him with a 4.31 ERA and 1.41 WHIP over seven starts this season. The Nats placed him on the D.L. on Friday with right forearm tightness. Matt Williams revealed on Saturday that Fister had been diagnosed with a strained flexor muscle in his right forearm and that there was no timetable for his return. Reliever Craig Stammen is expected to miss the rest of this season with two torn flexor tendons in his right forearm.
2. Jayson Werth missing more time – Werth got hit by a pitch on his left wrist in Game 2, which he left early, and then did not play in Games 3 and 4. X-rays were negative, but this is the same wrist that has been broken twice before: 2005 with the Dodgers and 2012 with the Nats. Werth missed the first week of the season due to arthroscopic surgery on his right AC joint in January and has struggled both offensively and defensively so far this year.