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Takeaways From The Nationals Winning Two Of Three At The Mets

Observations from and analysis of the Nats’ series win at the Mets

 

 

Game 1: 7-6 loss on Friday night (Sept. 22)

Game 2: 4-3 10-inning win on Saturday night (Sept. 23)

Game 3: 3-2 win on Sunday afternoon (Sept. 24)

 

1. Bryce Harper is coming back.  We had reports on Sunday that he would return for the following night’s game at Philadelphia off having been on the 10-day disabled list since Aug. 13 with a hyperextended left knee, left-knee bone bruise and calf strain.  Of course, though, just because he’s back doesn’t mean that he is 100 percent.  This clearly will be the top storyline over the final week of the Nats’ regular season.

2. Sunday afternoon’s win clinched home-field advantage for the Nats in their NLDS.  That’s nice, but the Nats had home-field advantages in 2012, 2014 and 2016 and lost all three of those divisional series.

3. Dusty Baker complained about the Nats playing a get-away game at night after the 3-2 loss at Atlanta on Thursday night and about his guys being tired.  And so on Friday night we got a Nats lineup that featured zero regulars – yes, zero.  The top eight batters in the Nats’ lineup were Wilmer Difo, Alejandro De Aza, Howie Kendrick, Adam Lind, Victor Robles, Rafael Bautista, Adrian Sanchez and Pedro Severino.  Nothing captures the spring-training nature of Nats games over these final few weeks of this September more than that.

4. Three players in particular – three options for left field should Dusty Baker decide to bench the struggling Jayson Werth – delivered in this series.  Werth, by the way, played in just one game in the series, going 1-for-5 with two strikeouts on Saturday night.

  • Kendrick had an RBI double in the Nats’ three-run fifth and a single.  He then had a pinch single on a 1-2 pitch in the top of the eighth on Saturday night.
  • Lind blasted a three-run homer in the top of the third and drew two walks.  He then had a two-out two-run homer off Matt Harvey in the top of the fourth, a single and a walk on Saturday night.
  • Robles had a two-run triple in the Nats’ three-run fifth.  Robles got to third base in just 11.23 seconds, giving him two of the Nats’ three fastest triples ever tracked by Statcast.  He also had two nice defensive plays on Sunday afternoon: an impressive leaping back-handed catch in the bottom of the first and an outfield assist in the bottom of the seventh.

5. Max Scherzer on Sunday afternoon did not extend himself for the first time in three starts, throwing 87 pitches in allowing one run in six innings on 10 strikeouts versus three hits and a walk.

 

Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer delivers during the first inning of a baseball game against the New York Mets, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

 

6. Stephen Strasburg on Saturday night was allowed to throw just five innings and 83 pitches in yet another sign of the spring-training nature of these Nats games down the stretch.  He allowed three runs on seven hits and a walk versus six strikeouts.

7. Edwin Jackson’s season on Friday night continued to unravel.  He allowed six runs in 4 2/3 innings.  Jackson allowed one run through four innings before giving up five runs in the bottom of the fifth on four singles and a first-pitch three-run homer by Travis d’Arnaud, who also blasted a leadoff bomb in the bottom of the second.  Jackson had a 2.94 ERA over his first eight starts with the Nats this season.  He now has allowed 22 earned runs in 16 innings over his last four starts.  This guy was a definite candidate to be on the Nats’ NLDS roster as a long reliever.  Now he would appear to be on the outside looking in.

8. The Nats’ new-look bullpen continued to dominate, allowing two runs in 11 1/3 innings.

  • Friday night – Oliver Perez, Joe Blanton, Enny Romero, Shawn Kelley and Matt Albers combined to allow one run in 3 1/3 innings.  The run came in the bottom of the six off Blanton, who allowed two doubles and a wild pitch.  But the real concern from this game had to do with Kelley, who lasted for just two batters and 17 pitches in the bottom of the eighth due to his lower arm feeling numb and his hand becoming swollen.  Kelley, who has twice undergone Tommy John surgery, said the sensation he felt on Friday night was similar to what he experienced during the NLDS Game 5 loss to the Dodgers last October.  That turned out not to be a serious injury, although Kelley has been terrible this season.  He was to be examined by a doctor on Saturday.
  • Saturday night – Albers, Brandon Kintzler, Ryan Madson, Sammy Solis and Sean Doolittle each tossed a scoreless inning.  Madson, Solis and Doolittle combined for seven strikeouts versus no hits and a walk in three shutout innings.
  • Sunday afternoon – Joe Blanton, Madson, Solis and Kintzler combined to allow one run in three innings.  The run came off Madson, who gave up a run on three singles and also issued a walk in the bottom of the eighth.

 

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