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Nats 7, Mets 2: Big win over Harvey in big series opener

Jul 20, 2015, 9:58 PM EST

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GAME IN A NUTSHELL: In Game 3 of their crazy week facing some of the best pitching the NL has to offer, the Nationals stared down the Dark Knight of Gotham and for the first time in a long time lived to tell about it.

The Nats got to Matt Harvey for two runs in the first, then three more in the third, pouncing on the Mets ace to beat him for the first time since his rookie season in 2012. Yunel Escobar’s RBI single brought home the night’s first run, then his heads-up baserunning move (getting into a rundown and buying enough time for Bryce Harper to score) brought home another. Clint Robinson’s 2-run double in the third added to the onslaught and handed Gio Gonzalez a 5-0 lead.

Gonzalez labored at times and could only make it through six innings, allowing two runs, while throwing 107 pitches. But the Nationals bullpen clamped down and didn’t let the Mets get back in it. Matt Thornton retired the side, Casey Janssen tossed another scoreless eighth and — after Ian Desmond tagged a much-needed, 2-run homer for insurance — Drew Storen finished it off in a non-save situation.

And so after losing games to Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke over the weekend, the Nationals were able to take down an ace this time. And because of that, they have opened up a 3-game lead over the Mets in the NL East.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: If opponents are going to pitch around Harper, the guys hitting behind him are going to have to deliver big hits. And then did Monday night. Escobar, hitting cleanup to offer some Bryce protection, followed Harper’s 1st-inning walk with an RBI single to left to get the Nats on the board. Two innings later, after Harper again walked to leave two men on base, Robinson roped a double to deep center field, bringing home two more runs. That kind of production from the No. 4 and No. 5 spots in the lineup is critical for this team, especially with so many regulars still on the DL.

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: Nine days ago, Janssen stood before his locker in Baltimore and spoke emotionally about how he hadn’t felt like he had contributed enough to his new team and how he intended to prove to the Nationals he deserved to be their primary setup man. Since then, he has tossed four consecutive scoreless eighth innings, retiring 12-of-13 batters, striking out six. There’s still a long way to go, and he still has a lot to prove, but Janssen has accepted this challenge and sure looks determined to prove his worth to this team.

DEFENSIVE HIGHLIGHTS: Take your pick, because there were four brilliant plays made in the field in this game. Escobar made a nifty, backhanded stab of John Mayberry Jr.’s hard smash to third base to save two runs from scoring in the first inning. Michael Taylor ran a near-perfect route (98 percent efficiency, according to MLB’s Statcast) to rob Eric Campbell of a 2-run double in the fifth. Harper made a tough, sliding catch of Wilmer Flores’ sinking liner in the eighth, and Jose Lobaton followed with a sprawling catch of Mayberry’s popup, falling over the railing near the third-base dugout. This might well have been the Nationals’ best defensive game of the year, and it came at a great time.

KEY STAT: Matt Harvey gave up four total runs in the first 40 innings of his career against the Nationals. Then he gave up five runs in the first three innings of Monday night’s game.

UP NEXT: The series continues at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday when Joe Ross (2-1, 2.66) returns from Class AAA Syracuse to face reigning NL Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom (9-6, 2.14).

  1. TimDz - Jul 20, 2015 at 10:02 PM

    A bit of nippling there at one point…..
    The Mets tried to keep abreast….but ended up looking like boobs….

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 20, 2015 at 10:04 PM

      Hmmmm, I like.

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Jul 20, 2015 at 10:04 PM

      That’s. Awesome. Lol.. bwahahahah

    • veejh - Jul 20, 2015 at 10:07 PM

      well played, sir

    • natsfan1a - Jul 21, 2015 at 7:32 AM

      Wut? Ohhh, there’s a back story. As it were. Never mind.

  2. Mrsb loves the Nats - Jul 20, 2015 at 10:04 PM

    That’s why they play the game… we face a string of good pitching… but so do our opponents. Great game…

    Hopefully Joe will come in and pick off where he left before he went back down and we give him ample enough run support.

    • knoxvillenat - Jul 20, 2015 at 10:15 PM

      Yes, hopefully the Nats give Joe enough room for ample nipping.

    • veejh - Jul 20, 2015 at 10:23 PM

      Gio vs Harvey. Not exactly the outcome most expected. I agree, you gotta play the games.

      I’m excited to see Ross pitch again. He could be the trade steal/guy thrown into a deal steal, of all time.

      • Soul Possession, My Sofa - Jul 20, 2015 at 11:42 PM

        Speak for yourself. I expected it.

      • zmunchkin - Jul 20, 2015 at 11:51 PM

        Ditto. Did not expect Harvey to give up that many. But Gio has been very good lately.

  3. natsfan1a - Jul 20, 2015 at 10:05 PM

    Nice win, fellas. Very nice.

    • knoxvillenat - Jul 20, 2015 at 10:16 PM

      Nippling darn it, nippling!

      • scmargenau - Jul 20, 2015 at 10:23 PM

        Do we have to TM that as MNF ? Heh

      • Soul Possession, My Sofa - Jul 20, 2015 at 11:43 PM

        You know, I think we do.

        Remind me, who owns Hacking the Gorse? Is that UnkyD?

      • unkyd59 - Jul 21, 2015 at 8:12 AM

        Yessir!

  4. veejh - Jul 20, 2015 at 10:07 PM

    after going scoreless against Greinke and Kershaw, that was a relief.

  5. nattygoats - Jul 20, 2015 at 10:14 PM

    Excellent win. Very gritty effort

    • Hiram Hover - Jul 20, 2015 at 10:38 PM

      +1

  6. Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 20, 2015 at 10:18 PM

    Defense saved the Nats and was the most inspired I have seen it all year. Gio had a 1.50 WHIP in the game and if not for the defense it wouldn’t have been pretty. Literally 4 starters for the Mets were hitting .180 or lower so this was not Murderer’s Row.

  7. Section 222 - Jul 20, 2015 at 10:20 PM

    There was even a fifth highlight reel play — Esco’s diving catch on a line drive in the 2nd. Quite a defensive showing by the boys tonight.

    • Joe Seamhead - Jul 20, 2015 at 10:37 PM

      Gio had a fine play on a bunt where he looked the runner back to third before throwing out the batter.

      • Section 222 - Jul 20, 2015 at 11:25 PM

        That too. Good point. Great game all the way around.

    • Soul Possession, My Sofa - Jul 20, 2015 at 11:57 PM

      I think The Lobaton’s catch might have been tougher than any of them. But they were all good.

  8. Drew - Jul 20, 2015 at 10:35 PM

    Gutsy win with great defense. Robinson and Taylor again underscore this team’s quality depth.

    In other news: Anybody know what’s up with Andrew Stevenson in Auburn? He’s hitting .361 in the early going, but he hasn’t played for a couple days. He’s still listed on Auburn’s roster.

    Rhett Wiseman, the OF from Vandy, is also off to a good start at Auburn. In 40 ABs through 11 games he’s hitting .325 with 3 homers, 9 RBIs and an OPS of 1.040.

    Also of note – in his first start at Potomac tonight Matt Purke gave up just one hit in 5 innings.

    I know Purke just turned 25, but after all he’s been through I’d love for him to stay healthy and finally put it all together.

    • Danny - Jul 20, 2015 at 10:41 PM

      No one is talking about Austin Voth, he made another quality start tonight and is having a fantastic year in Harrisburg.

      • Karl Kolchak - Jul 20, 2015 at 10:44 PM

        I’ll bet opposing GMs know his name, and I would not be surprised if he ends up being one of the centerpieces if the Nats do make a big trade. I hope not since I have a special fondness for those players I’ve seen play at Potomac. 🙂

      • Danny - Jul 20, 2015 at 10:50 PM

        Agreed. He is the classic sell high prospect I could see Rizzo dealing in an appropriate deal.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 21, 2015 at 7:20 AM

      Rhett was named player of the week in the Penn League.

  9. rlndtln - Jul 20, 2015 at 10:56 PM

    Now all can see why Harp taking pitches and walking was a big key to the game.Someone on here wanted him to swing at close pitches.Harp knows what he is doing.

    • Karl Kolchak - Jul 20, 2015 at 11:04 PM

      I was a lifelong White Sox fan before the Nats came to DC, and when Frank Thomas first came up some fans got on him for walking too much. Well, The Big Hurt is now in the HOF, so he indeed knew what he was doing.

      As a hitter, Harper reminds me a lot of Frank Thomas.

      • sjm308 - Jul 20, 2015 at 11:31 PM

        Thats very interesting and I like the analogy

      • Soul Possession, My Sofa - Jul 20, 2015 at 11:46 PM

        That is interesting. Totally different type of player. Ryan Howard reminded me of him early, but that didn’t pan out, thru no fault of Howard’s.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 21, 2015 at 7:23 AM

        They said the same about Votto. I don’t get it. You take the walks. Reds fans complained they aren’t paying him to walk.

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