A breakdown of Washington’s three-game stand against New York at Nationals’ Park.
Game 1: 7-2 win on Monday night (July 20)
Game 2: 7-2 loss on Tuesday night (July 21)
Game 3: 4-3 win on Wednesday afternoon (July 22)
What I liked:
Domination – The Nats now are 47-19 against the Mets since the start of the 2012 season. The race in the National League East is much closer than many anticipated, but the first-place team in the division pretty clearly owns its second-place team these days.
The offense – Though the Nats batted just .226 in the series, that didn’t tell the entire story. They went 7-for-23 with runners in scoring position and worked four walks in Game 1 and an astonishing eight walks in Game 3. Five of those Game 3 walks came off Noah Syndergaard, who hadn’t issued more than two walks in any of his previous 11 starts.
The Nats also took down the Dark Knight, for at least one night. Matt Harvey entered Game 1 having allowed three earned runs in 40 innings over six career starts against the Nats. He allowed four earned runs over just the first three innings on Monday night.
Ian Desmond, in the midst of a horrific July in what has been an awful season, had one of his best offensive series of the season, blasting a two-run homer in Game 1 and going 5-for-9 overall with two walks.
Danny Espinosa went 4-for-13, including the go-ahead RBI double in the Nats’ three-run eighth in Game 3.And how about Michael Taylor in Game 3, during which the Nats overcame a 3-1 eighth-inning deficit?
He had an RBI single in the fourth and a game-tying two-run single, a stolen base and the go-ahead run in the Nats’ three-run eighth. Taylor exited this series with a.389 batting average with runners in scoring position this season vs. a .202 batting average with runners NOT in scoring position.
Jordan Zimmermann’s start in Game 3 – He allowed three runs in seven innings and did not issue a walk for the seventh time in 20 starts this season.
Joe Ross’ start in Game 2 – Ross, recalled from Triple-A Syracuse on Tuesday, allowed three runs (two earned) in 6 1/3 innings in his first major-league start in more than a month. He now has a 2.70 ERA and 27 strikeouts versus two walks over four major-league starts this season.
Gio Gonzalez’s start in Game 1 – He wasn’t efficient (six hits and three walks on 107 pitches in six innings) and allowed some hard-hit balls, but he gave up just two runs. Gio now has allowed two runs or less and lasted at least six innings in six of his last seven starts.
The defense in Game 1 – The Nats made four standout plays on Monday night.
Yunel Escobar hit the dirt and made a backhanded grab of a sharply-hit ball by John Mayberry Jr. for a groundout with runners on second and third and two outs in the top of the first.
Taylor made a running and leaping catch of Eric Campbell’s drive to deep right-center with runners on first and second and two outs in the top of the fifth. According to MLB’s Statcast, Taylor had a 98.1-percent route efficiency on the catch and actually broke .05 seconds BEFORE contact.
Bryce Harper ran in and fell toward his left in catch a Wilmer Flores liner for the first out in the top of the eighth.
Jose Lobaton made a lunging basket catch of a Mayberry Jr. foul-pop out while up against a backstop railing and nearing a camera well for the second out in the top of the eighth.
What I didn’t like:
Another injury – maybe – Escobar suffered an injured left hand/wrist on a check swing in the bottom of the second of Game 3. X-rays were negative, but he was to undergo more testing. Escobar actually injured his right wrist on a check swing on June 4 but only missed two games.
The bullpen in Game 2 – Nats relievers delivered in Games 1 and 3, but Tuesday night was a different story, as two of the Nats’ most disappointing relievers struggled again. Aaron Barrett allowed a go-ahead pinch two-run single to Campbell in the top of the seventh. Tanner Roark was charged with four runs and recorded just one out in the top of the ninth, giving up four singles and a walk.
The defense in Game 2 – A night after arguably the Nats’ best defensive game of the season, they had one of their worst.
Desmond inexplicably threw to first instead of third on a Ruben Tejada groundout in the top of the fourth, allowing Curtis Granderson to advance to third despite him being 48 feet away from the base when Desmond got the ball. Three batters later, Wilmer Flores delivered an RBI single.
Clint Robinson, playing first base, was charged with an error for being unable to handle a high-bouncing grounder by Kirk Nieuwenhuis in the top of the seventh, putting runners on second and third. Two batters later, Campbell delivered the two-run pinch single off Barrett. Harper’s throw home was way off on the Campbell single.
The Mets’ four-run ninth included a throwing error by left fielder and former Met Matt den Dekker.