A quick look at Washington’s three-game sweep of the Braves at Nationals Park.
Game 1: 3-1 win on Tuesday night (June 23)
Game 2: 2-1 11-inning win on Wednesday night (June 24)
Game 3: 7-0 win on Thursday (June 25)
What I liked:
1. So much for the Braves being the Nats’ daddies – Remember when the Nats were owned by the Braves? The Nats now are 8-1 against the Braves this season, having outscored them by 26 runs (64-38).
2. The starting pitching – Excellent for a second straight series. Nats starters now have tossed a franchise-record 41 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings, breaking the previous mark of 39 1/3 innings set by the 1981 Montreal Expos.
Stephen Strasburg tossed five scoreless innings in Game 1 in his return from the 15-day disabled list, which he had been on since May 30 with a left trapezius strain. He allowed just four hits and a walk versus six strikeouts and perhaps as important as anything, looked good mechanically. And for those scoring in the mental-toughness category, he did all of this despite the game starting two-plus hours late thanks to the rain.
Jordan Zimmermann tossed eight scoreless innings in Game 2 in what was arguably his best start of the season and in a game that eerily mirrored NLDS Game 2 against San Francisco last October, as Matt Williams pulled Zimmermann despite him having thrown 100 pitches and then Drew Storen allowed a run to blow the save in the top of the ninth. For the record, I had no problem with Williams going to Storen in that spot. He’s having a great season. He’s your ace reliever. You use him.
Doug Fister tossed seven scoreless innings in Game 3 in his second start since coming off the 15-day disabled list.
3. The offense – The Nats batted .294 (30-for-102), including going 8-for-29 with runners in scoring position.
Wilson Ramos went 4-for-12 with a walk, blasting two doubles.
Michael Taylor went 4-for-11, providing a double in each of the final two games.
And it was good to see Ian Desmond hit a walk-off sac fly in Game 2 and a two-run homer and a single in Game 3. He of course has not had a good season, in fact did not play in Game 1 and committed his 16th error of the season in Game 2.
4. The bullpen – Nats relievers combined to allow two runs in nine innings, though on 11 hits and two walks.
What I didn’t like:
1. Storen – Storen had two shaky outings, giving him four over his last six appearances. He tossed a scoreless ninth in Game 1 despite giving up a single, an infield single and a walk. Storen then suffered just his second blown save of the season (and first since April 21) in Game 2, giving up a run on two singles, an intentional walk and a sacrifice fly.
2. Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon not playing in Game 3 – Minor ailments kept them out, but anything that comes up with these two is worth tracking.
Harper felt a cramp in his right leg in Game 2, during which he had a double and an RBI single.
Rendon has been dealing with soreness in his left quadriceps. He had six singles over Games 1 and 2.
Clint Robinson, by the way, had an RBI single, another single and a walk in Harper’s place in Game 3.