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Nats’ offense continues to surge

Jun 21, 2015, 5:48 PM EDT

Jun 21, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (34) celebrates at home plate with third baseman Yunel Escobar (5) (obscured) after hitting a two run home run during the first inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Nationals’ pitching staff just capped it’s best run in team history with 24 consecutive scoreless innings, a weekend highlighted by Max Scherzer’s no-hitter on Saturday against the Pirates.

The pitchers deserve their credit, no doubt. But the Nationals’ lineup hasn’t exactly been dragging their feet.

In Sunday’s win, the Nationals scored nine runs in the first inning alone. That gives them 63 runs in their last 10 games compared to 56 in their previous 20.

Nine runs was the best first inning in team history and tied for the best frame a Nationals team has ever had. They last scored nine runs in one inning on May 31 of 2010.

“It’s fun to be apart of,” Clint Robinson said. “Sometimes, you know, hitting is contagious, I’ve said all along. So when guys string together hits like that, it can create a snowball effect, and it did. It made it easy for us to get ahead and go out and get that win.”

Robinson had a double in the first inning and scored on a single by Jose Lobaton. Their other eight runs came on homers by Bryce Harper (2 RBI) and Yunel Escobar (3 RBI), a double by pitcher Gio Gonzalez, a single by Michael Taylor and a wild pitch by Pirates starter Charlie Morton that scored Ian Desmond.

The Nationals have now scored nine runs or more 10 times this season in 70 games. They scored nine or more 13 times all of last season. The Nats now rank fourth in runs this season compared to ninth last year. As streaky as they have been at times, the total numbers stack up favorably with the rest of MLB.

Harper knows that, and thinks even when the lineup has gone cold, it hasn’t been as bad as many have made it out to be.

“Everybody says we’re struggling, but I don’t think as a team that we’re struggling. We’re doing pretty dang good,” he said. “We just played great ball and had some great pitching this weekend. If we can do that, we’d win 162 games. We’ll go through times where we’ve had ups and downs in this game where the ball just didn’t fall our way. But we had a great weekend, hopefully we can take this into next week and stay in first place.”

Harper’s parents were in town for Father’s Day and attended Sunday’s game. His father, Ron, has been a big influence in his life and career and Bryce said it was special to deliver with his 24th homer of the season.

“It was awesome, being able to do that in the first at-bat. Him being able to come out and enjoy that. Very cool moment. It was a good opportunity to get us on the board. Very happy we got that W and got that sweep,” he said.

Gonzalez followed Scherzer’s no-hitter with seven scoreless innings in addition to his double. Scherzer also had a hit on Saturday, but it was a single, and Gonzalez was quick to point that out.

“I was just tired of Maxi trying to be number one hitting. I finally bumped up somewhere in that ranking of pitchers than can hit,” he said. “Max is not going to beat me on a base hit. I’m going to go up there and try and get a double.”

The Nationals are off Monday before the Atlanta Braves come to town for a three-game series. The Braves have had plenty of problems with their pitching staff this season and could offer a good opportunity for the Nats’ offense to keep on rolling.


  1. Candide - Jun 21, 2015 at 6:04 PM

    New-posted, so re-posting.

    For those of you who remember watching “Cheers,” here’s Tabata recounting the high point of his career thirty years from now.

    • stoatva - Jun 21, 2015 at 6:14 PM

      I trust he got an earful from the folks in the right field bleachers, all game long. He had a couple of less than splendid defensive efforts, I noted from the RF mezzanine.

    • 3on2out - Jun 21, 2015 at 6:50 PM

      Don’t know how you find ’em Candide but love your Way Back Time Machine!

    • Doc - Jun 21, 2015 at 8:20 PM

      Cheers, Candide!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. dcwx61 - Jun 21, 2015 at 6:06 PM

    And the Pirates were 39-27 coming into this series
    Day off is a good thing for an ailing team
    and a free swinging Espi…3Ks hopefully an aberration

  3. Karl Kolchak - Jun 21, 2015 at 6:30 PM

    Since Ryan Zimmerman went on the DL, Clint Robinson’s OPS is .961 and Tyler Moore’s is .816. Collectively, they have 3 HRs, 4 doubles and 8 RBIs in that span. They certainly have been a very good first base platoon.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 21, 2015 at 7:22 PM

      Bingo. It’s tough to swallow but it is the truth. This is what we discussed that you need your 1st base spot contributing at a .770 OPS and this tandem is producing above that. Previously the Nats were last in the Majors at 1st baseman OPS and it will be a long climb up to respectibility.

      Ryan Zimmerman was batting .209 with a .611 OPS which are both career low points.

      The Nats are doing the same at LF where Werth was worse than RZim while playing poor defense and his .208 BA with .581 OPS are tied for his worst season at BA and worst in OPS.

      The solution I still believe is to stick with the platoon at 1st with 3 games a week for TyMo and 4 games a week for CRob.

      Now if you continue with that 1st base platoon then Espi has to take some time in the 3 other infield spots and maybe in LF.

  4. 3on2out - Jun 21, 2015 at 6:53 PM

    But where is Nasty Goat? Wasn’t this pathetic team, managed by the village idiot, suppose to be swept by the Pirates and well under .500 at this point? I am so confused.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 21, 2015 at 7:26 PM

      Him and his nasty friends all stayed away.

      What I noticed on Matt Williams was on Friday he put runners in motion and had a nice run & hit which were key. This team was not putting enough pressure on the other team’s pitching and defense. The Nats capitalized and the pitching was incredible.

      • Section 222 - Jun 21, 2015 at 7:33 PM

        That was a great strategy on Friday, when Burnett was on the mound. C&D pointed out at the beginning of the game that you can steal on him. Of course, the running game had little to do with the second two wins.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 21, 2015 at 7:44 PM

        Yes, none. MW went back to conservative mode on Saturday as it seemed 1-0 would stand up and didn’t need to do anything with a 9-0 lead today.

        I would like to see when Esco is up with Span on base that they use some more run & hit and I say run & hit as you send Span and if Esco can top the ball to the right side—-bonus.

      • Section 222 - Jun 21, 2015 at 10:29 PM

        True, but it also depends on the pitcher. You can run on Burnett. Probably a lot harder against Liriano. I’m glad MW took advantage of the situation, but I don’t want him running Span willy nilly

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 21, 2015 at 10:42 PM

        Agreed that you pick your spots. Smart ball.

  5. stoatva - Jun 21, 2015 at 7:01 PM

    Mets let Harvey throw 115 pitches today, until he finally gave up a run. It will make me sad, as a baseball fan, if they ruin him.

    1-0 Braves in 7th, about which I am ambivalent. We will miss Teheran, about which I am pleased.

    • tcostant - Jun 21, 2015 at 7:19 PM

      I agree. I was surprised earlier in the year how many times Harvey pitched into the 8 inning. You think they would have learned their lesson after Generation K (look it up if you don’t know about it).

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 21, 2015 at 7:27 PM

      They ruined him early in the season then he fell apart. They gave him some extra days of rest and he pitched 2 good back to back games and then like you said they went back to 115 pitches today. Shaking my head.

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 21, 2015 at 8:20 PM

      Exactly why I smdh at any and everyone who actually disses the way Nats/Rizzo handled JZIMM and SS….

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 21, 2015 at 10:05 PM

        The Nats did what was right for the player first and foremost and that’s admirable instead of “using” them for today with no regard for tomorrow. The way the Barves have handled their young arms and the Mets here with Harvey reminds me of how coaches in travel ball take these young studs they have and pitch them 3 to 4 times in a 2 weekend span that could be 9 days and we wonder why these kids arms are falling off.

  6. Section 222 - Jun 21, 2015 at 7:35 PM

    The Mets seem to be all over the place on how to “protect” Harvey. How’d that 6-man rotation thing work out? Most idiotic idea ever. Say what you will about Rizzo in 2012, but he had a plan for Stras and he stuck to it. I still think he was right, but there’s no way to prove the counterfactual.

    • masterfishkeeper - Jun 21, 2015 at 7:47 PM

      Agreed. I think the Nats have shown they know how to manage young pitchers.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 21, 2015 at 8:33 PM

      Davey Johnson allowed Strasburg to go 100 or more pitches in only 10 starts in 2012. In contrast, this year in Harvey’s 14 starts, he has already gone 100 or more pitches in 8 starts.

    • Candide - Jun 21, 2015 at 9:17 PM

      Is it a New York thing? Remember the Yankees and their “Joba Rules?”

  7. annapmagistra - Jun 21, 2015 at 7:38 PM

    Mets lose 1-0.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 21, 2015 at 7:58 PM

      They got the 1st 2 on to start the 9th and then the 2 big bats were coming up in Duda and Cuddyer and Duda flew out and Cuddyer hit into a doubleplay.

      Nats up by 1 1/2 games. Just have to wonder when Harvey’s arm falls off. They pushed him over the limit once again. Harvey threw a stressful 115 pitches which is 9 more than Scherzer yesterday.

  8. Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 21, 2015 at 8:21 PM

    Great hot day at the Park with my dad…. hope you all enjoyed the game too…

    • Candide - Jun 21, 2015 at 9:20 PM

      Cunegonde and I had season tickets for a local community theater (which shall not be named because the show was pretty bad), so we had to leave the house at 2:30 for the 3:00 show.

      But the Nats were leading 9-0 at that point, so it would appear we saw pretty much the entire game.

      • Eric - Jun 21, 2015 at 10:54 PM

        It’s worth peeping this moment:

      • Candide - Jun 22, 2015 at 8:21 AM

        Nice play by Desi; he didn’t have to do that in the 9th inning with a 9-0 lead, but you have to respect the guy who plays like every moment matters. As opposed to the batter, Alvarez, who didn’t exactly run like his pants were on fire; he might have beaten it out otherwise.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 21, 2015 at 11:45 PM

      That’s how to celebrate a Father’s Day!!!!

  9. Brian - Jun 21, 2015 at 9:33 PM

    Trea Turner was pulled from the senators game tonight, anyone with an update?

    • therealjohnc - Jun 21, 2015 at 10:24 PM

      And Reynaldo Lopez lifted from his start with Potomac after three shutout innings with 5K, 0BB and only 2 hits.

    • Danny - Jun 21, 2015 at 10:54 PM

      My suspicion on Turner is he was lifted early because Harrisburg plays a DH tomorrow.

      Lopez only went 3 b/c his start was suspended by rain. Game started Saturday and was finished Sunday.

      • therealjohnc - Jun 22, 2015 at 10:28 AM

        Thanks, I’d forgotten that bit about the suspended game due to rain. As for Turner, spies on Luke Erickson’s site (Nationals Prospects – there’s a link to it in Mark’s blogroll at right) report that Turner was spotted easing up on a popup that was nearly dropped, and may well have been benched for it. Ah, youth.

  10. ehay2k - Jun 22, 2015 at 8:20 AM

    Chase, nice post, but undermined a bit by the typos: “…it’s best run…”, and “.. be apart of…” made me shudder. 😋

    As for the Nats’ bats, it’s a bit hard to argue that the bench hasn’t been productive. But it would seem equally hard to make the case that they will continue on this trajectory, given the SSS. I guess I’m saying that when Werth and Zimm are back and truly ready to play, I’m OK with them in the lineup. We simply know who they are, with a bigger data set to back it up.

    Harper amazes me. He’s clearly not healthy, and I am still worried about the longer term impact of playing on a bum knee, but boy can he crush the ball. I can’t imagine any pitcher wants to face him right now.

    The other player I love to watch is Escobar. There are times when I think his antics are a bit much, but overall his love for playing the game seems to be contagious. At the moment, he is also the best hitter not named Harper on the team, in my view. He is just so consistent, has a plan each time he goes up, and is able to execute it. Even Harper doesn’t have 5 hit games this year (ever?). If, at the time of the Clippard trade, we had known Escobar would be batting .331 at the end of June, there would have been much less objection to the deal. Besides, with Oakland struggling, we can get Clip back for den Dekker at the trade deadline! 😂

    Stras will be back soon, and the rotation will finally be complete and healthy. If Fister and Stras can pitch to even close to their norms, the Nats will make a move and the NL East will be in their rearview mirror. The Nats are at the same place they were last year at this point, and one could argue with weaker division opponents this year. Having more home than road games coming up is also to their advantage. The deck is basically stacked in the Nats’ favor and all they need to do is play the hands as they are dealt.


    • natsjackinfl - Jun 22, 2015 at 8:33 AM

      No offense but I always shudder when I read the words “the deck is basically stacked”.

      Baseball doesn’t care about stacked decks. The 162 game schedule has a way of constantly shuffling decks.

      That’s why I watch the games.

      • ehay2k - Jun 22, 2015 at 8:50 AM

        Fair enough, and I wasn’t implying they don’t have to play and play well. You can still lose with a stacked deck if you fold or play like an idiot. But unlike the Phillies for example, they don’t exactly need to go on any sort of historic tear to win the division either.

    • scmargenau - Jun 22, 2015 at 9:18 AM

      I shudder when grammar police take time to point out others mistakes. We are all human. It’s am fast paced world. U know what he meant. Pointing it out is petty. IMHO

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 22, 2015 at 9:30 AM

        If he were just another poster, I’d (grudgingly) agree. He’s a professional journalist. Those are like TOOTBLANs.

      • ehay2k - Jun 22, 2015 at 10:47 AM

        Except he’s a professional writer. I really don’t concern myself with posters’ grammar.

    • tcostant - Jun 22, 2015 at 9:21 AM

      “If, at the time of the Clippard trade, we had known Escobar would be batting .331 at the end of June, there would have been much less objection to the deal.”

      What if you added as “known” that Stammen would be lost for the year, Blevins would be traded and Treinen would regress?

      The fun of trades, is we don’t know…

      • ehay2k - Jun 22, 2015 at 10:49 AM

        Somehow, Rizzo seems to know.





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