Jun 25, 2015, 6:41 PM EDT
GAME IN A NUTSHELL: With their lineup rounding into form and their rotation in the middle of the best stretch for a starting staff in franchise history, the Nationals continued to roll on Thursday with a 7-0 win over the Atlanta Braves. The victory was their ninth in their last 12 games and it secured their second consecutive sweep.
Doug Fister was brilliant in his longest start of the 2015 season. He carved up the Braves’ lineup and found little trouble along the way to seven shutout innings.
The Nationals gave Fister some help early with six runs through the first three innings with the highlight coming in the form of a two-run bomb by Ian Desmond in the bottom of the third. They finished with 12 hits and two walks in an all-around impressive performance.
The Nationals are 8-1 against the Braves this season with a run differential of 64-38 (+26). They also swept them in Washington on May 8-10.
The Nationals now leave for a road trip having won six straight games. They moved to 40-33 on the season and seven games above .500 for the first time since June 2. Their six-game winning streak matches their highest of the season (May 15-22).
HITTING HIGHLIGHT: Desmond’s homer was part of a three-run third inning that put the Nats ahead comfortably against Braves rookie starter Matt Wisler. The rally began when Yunel Escobar doubled to left-center field with one out. He then scored on a single to center field by Clint Robinson.
Wilson Ramos then reached on a groundball, as Robinson broke up a would-be double with a hard slide into second base. Desmond followed by taking a 2-1 2-seam fastball and lining it over the out-of-town scoreboard in right field.
It was Desmond’s sixth homer on the season and gave him his third RBI in the last two games. He previously had just three RBI in the 21 games prior to Wednesday night when he hit a walkoff sac fly. Desmond also singled in the eighth inning.
PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: The Nationals’ rotation has been on an absolute tear since Friday night when Joe Ross dominated the Pirates through 7 1/3 innings of work. It continued with Max Scherzer’s no-hitter the following day, Gio Gonzalez’ seven shutout innings on Sunday, Stephen Strasburg’s five scoreless frames on Tuesday and Zimmermann’s eight innings of zeros on Wednesday.
Fister allowed no runs across seven innings with just four hits and a walk surrendered. He also hit Jonny Gomes with a pitch and added four strikeouts on a season-high 111 pitches. Including Fister’s numbers, here are the statistics for the Nats’ rotation in their last six outings: 43.1 IP, R, 24 H, 38 SO, 6 BB, 0.21 ERA.
Fister took the win and is now 3-3 with a 4.15 ERA through nine starts this season.
KEY STAT: The Nationals’ rotation has a new franchise record with 41 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings as a group. The previous mark was 39 1/3 innings, set by the 1981 Montreal Expos. The last time a staff went longer was the 2008 Cleveland Indians, who were stopped at 44 1/3 straight scoreless frames. Perhaps Scherzer can help the Nats eclipse that mark on Friday against the Phillies.
UP NEXT: The Nationals head on the road for a six-game trip beginning with three in Philadelphia against the Phillies. Scherzer (8-5, 1.76), the hottest pitcher in baseball, will go up against Aaron Harang (4-9, 3.41). What will Scherzer have as an encore to his no-hitter, which followed a one-hit, 16-strikeout performance in Milwaukee?
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
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