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Nats 3, Phillies 2: Strasburg impressive again in victory

Jun 28, 2015, 4:14 PM EST

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GAME IN A NUTSHELL: With uncertainty surrounding the second game of Sunday’s doubleheader at Citizens Bank Park, especially on the pitching front, nothing was more important to the Nationals than a strong start from Stephen Strasburg in the opener. Which is exactly what they got.

Strasburg again looked like his old self, tossing seven innings of 2-run ball, striking out nine along the way. His ability to give the Nationals one extra inning despite a rising pitch count also made a big difference on a day when relievers needed to be saved as much as possible for whatever still awaited.

A Nats lineup bolstered by the return of both Denard Span and Bryce Harper from minor ailments supported Strasburg with three runs. Span doubled in the fifth, took third on Jeff Francoeur’s comical error and scored on Danny Espinosa’s sacrifice fly. Michael Taylor then drove in the go-ahead run with an RBI double in the sixth, with the Nats tacking on another via a passed ball.

The back end of the bullpen then sealed the deal, with Matt Thornton and David Carpenter combining to record three outs in the eighth and Drew Storen recording his 23rd save in 25 tries with a scoreless ninth. So it was that the Nationals won their eighth straight game, a streak that will be on the line only minutes from now when Game 2 of the traditional doubleheader gets underway.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: The more he plays, the better Taylor’s at-bats get. He went 2-for-4 today, singling in the third and then roping an RBI double down the left-field line in the sixth for the go-ahead run. The rookie outfielder has done well hitting in the 8-spot, not always the easiest role for a young hitter. The biggest difference: Taylor has cut down on his strikeouts, eliminating a lot of bad at-bats and giving himself more opportunities to make solid contact. The results have been positive; Taylor is now hitting .254 with 27 RBI, which actually ranks fourth on the team.

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: This is the Stephen Strasburg we all knew. We just hadn’t seen him in awhile. Healthy and confident on the mound, Strasburg went right after the Phillies lineup. He relied again on his fastball for the most part, but mixed in more curveballs and changeups today. The changeup was especially sharp, possibly sharper than it’s been any other time this season. Perhaps the most significant thing Strasburg did, though, was re-take the mound for the seventh inning on 96 pitches. He might normally have been pulled prior to that, but with another game still to play today, Matt Williams needed to push his starter a bit. Strasburg responded by retiring the side, striking out the last two batters he faced and wrapping up an impressive, 113-pitch outing. In two starts now since coming off the DL, he has thrown 12 innings, allowing two runs on eight hits and two walks, striking out 15. His ERA has dropped from 6.55 to 5.49.

KEY STAT: Dan Uggla now has a pair of 3-hit games this season (today, plus the April 28 comeback victory in Atlanta). He hadn’t had any previous to that since 2012.

UP NEXT: Don’t go anywhere, because Game 2 starts in only 30 minutes. Tanner Roark will start against Phillies right-hander Severino Gonzalez.

  1. Section 222 - Jun 28, 2015 at 4:18 PM

    Got new posted. So if the Nats win 10 straight AGAIN, will MW finally do his Babe impersonation?

    • manassasnatsfan - Jun 28, 2015 at 4:20 PM

      MW all talk. We are still waiting.

      • stoatva - Jun 28, 2015 at 4:32 PM

        Maybe when we play the O’s, he and Dempsey can have a Babe-off.

  2. Waddueyeno - Jun 28, 2015 at 4:18 PM

    Oh, THAT strasburg…
    Hope things stay this good

  3. manassasnatsfan - Jun 28, 2015 at 4:21 PM

    Hope Strasburg keeps getting stronger each start. Challenge Max.

    In fact all starters challenge Max make him the weak link.

  4. Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 28, 2015 at 4:22 PM

    Roark starts Game 2

  5. mauimo22 - Jun 28, 2015 at 4:23 PM

    Stras proved me wrong, I didn’t think he had the muster but he does. Last two starts have been sharp, great job Stephen! Also very pleased with Espi this year. Denard is a stud. Harp is outrageous. We have to get better ABs from Desi. Nice hitting performance from The Swedish Owl today (is that his nickname?).

    Nice solid win for the Nats in game 1 over the Phoolies.

    #LetsGoNatsTakeGameTwo

    • homeparkdc - Jun 28, 2015 at 4:27 PM

      IIRC, Uggla means owl in Swedish. Expecting him to produce like this or better against ATL this week.

  6. scnatsfan - Jun 28, 2015 at 4:25 PM

    I don’t know how this lineup keeps winning but I’m ecstatic they are

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 28, 2015 at 4:26 PM

      Just enough, just enough. Need Esco in there and Espi back in the order. Uggla came up huge today with 3 hits and a walk.

    • Tyler Babip - Jun 28, 2015 at 4:29 PM

      Incredible pitching helps.

  7. Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 28, 2015 at 4:25 PM

    The real save came in the 8th today with Ryan Howard up and the tying run on 2nd.

    • Joe Seamhead - Jun 28, 2015 at 4:32 PM

      I agree. I questioned leaving Carpenter in to face Howard rather than bring in Felipe Rivero’s off speed stuff in. But, Howard is 0-3 with a walk against Carpenter.SSS!

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 28, 2015 at 4:35 PM

        Me too, it was odd going matchup then leaving Carp in vs the go-ahead batter in Howard. It worked out as did MW’s move to let Stras stay for the 7th.

  8. stoatva - Jun 28, 2015 at 4:27 PM

    Per Mark, Mets won their suspended game today despite going 0-15 with RISP.

  9. stoatva - Jun 28, 2015 at 4:29 PM

    So, if Roark is starting, did the Nats activate a position player?

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 28, 2015 at 4:30 PM

      I don’t think so. I think TJord becomes your long-man.

      • stoatva - Jun 28, 2015 at 4:33 PM

        By pure luck if the draw, I’ve seen more than my share of Taylor Jordan the last couple of years. He’s another one I don’t understand Rizzo’s fascination with.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 28, 2015 at 4:36 PM

        Real simple, when TJord’s sinker is working, he’s very good. When it’s not, he’s not. Sinker vs. Stinker

    • masterfishkeeper - Jun 28, 2015 at 4:46 PM

      Yes, they added Difo

  10. npb99 - Jun 28, 2015 at 4:30 PM

    Taylor is proving himself to deserve to play regularly. He’s growing as a hitter, becoming more disciplined and is getting a lot of clutch hits. If he continues like this, I don’t think he should be benched late summer when Werth returns.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 28, 2015 at 4:33 PM

      This will be the discussion of all discussions including RZim and what you do with both. It would be hard to fathom sitting either but some sort of creative thinking has to be done.

      This time they have to take their time with rehab starts for both. No reason to rush either back. Before they both left the Nats ranked last in LF and 1st Base offense.

      • npb99 - Jun 28, 2015 at 4:41 PM

        My subtext here is that I’m starting to see Taylor as the replacement for Werth, long-term, rather than the replacement for Span, since I hope Denard will re-sign (maybe unrealistic, but a possibility). With Werth’s age and this latest injury, I think his best days are well behind him, and Taylor’s are just starting.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 28, 2015 at 4:47 PM

        “Rumors of his demise is greatly exaggerated”—Mrs. Werth

    • Joe Seamhead - Jun 28, 2015 at 4:34 PM

      Ah,a first world ML problem.

      • npb99 - Jun 28, 2015 at 4:38 PM

        Everything written on NI is a first world problem! Cheers.

  11. manassasnatsfan - Jun 28, 2015 at 4:31 PM

    Tanner starts game 2

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 28, 2015 at 4:34 PM

      You owe me a drink. Look above 10 minutes ago 😉

  12. rlndtln - Jun 28, 2015 at 4:32 PM

    Listened in the car.Stras was great.Can not understand with runners on second and third and one out with Stras batting we do not go on contact.If you go you can score or at worse be thrown out at home and have runners on 1st and 3rd instead of 2nd and third and 2 outs.If is a no brainer.

    • stoatva - Jun 28, 2015 at 4:39 PM

      Downside, I guess, is you have Stras on the bases.

  13. stoatva - Jun 28, 2015 at 4:36 PM

    A ha!

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 28, 2015 at 4:38 PM

      Holy craps Bat-Man! That’s a surprise. I guess Treinen is the long-man with the day-off tomorrow. They had both there but with Esco starting and Burriss on the bench, I don’t get that.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 28, 2015 at 4:39 PM

        Talk about hedging your bets, Rizzo flies in TJord and Difo for a day trip. Escobar is back so MW has a full bench for Game 2.

        Now he can use a pinch-runner or something creative I guess.

  14. stoatva - Jun 28, 2015 at 4:53 PM

    Sure looks like this Gonzalez kid has shown the Nats every pitch he has in the first inning.

  15. stoatva - Jun 28, 2015 at 5:13 PM

    Just figured out what Francouer’s throw reminded me of. Garo Ypremian, RIP.

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