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Nats 8, Padres 3: Healthy lineup produces big results

Aug 25, 2015, 10:14 PM EDT

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GAME IN A NUTSHELL: It took 124 games, but Matt Williams finally had the opportunity to fill out his original, projected lineup, thanks to Denard Span’s return from a two-month stay on the DL with a lower back injury. And wouldn’t you know that long-awaited, complete lineup put together one of the Nationals’ best all-around offensive performances of the season?

All eight regulars reached base by the sixth inning, with all eight runs driven in with two outs. Wilson Ramos got things started with a 2-run homer down the left-field line in the bottom of the second. Yunel Escobar, who also returned after missing two games with a neck injury, drove in another run in the third, while Ian Desmond put together a nice at-bat to drop a 3-2 pitch into right field for a 2-out RBI double in the fifth.

The biggest blow, though, came from Ryan Zimmerman, who with the bases loaded and two out in the sixth launched a Bud Norris fastball to right-center field for a grand slam that left the crowd of 34,199 roaring with approval. That blast came two batters after Bryce Harper drew a walk a couple pitches after tapping a grounder to first that plate umpire David Rackley said struck Harper on the foot, a close call that ultimately got Padres manager Pat Murphy ejected.

Stephen Strasburg made the most of all that run support, tossing six innings of 2-run ball to continue his dominant stretch since returning from his own DL stint. And thus at the end of the night, the Nationals were able to celebrate their first 3-game winning streak since the All-Star break.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: Here’s the perfect example of what a healthy lineup means for the Nationals: Zimmerman can hit sixth. The Face of the Franchise hasn’t done that much during his decade in the big leagues, but it puts him in a position to come up to bat with a lot of guys on base and drive them in. Like he did in the bottom of the sixth. Stepping to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs, Zimmerman did what he does very well: Drive a ball to right-center field. This one just cleared the out-of-town scoreboard for a grand slam, the fifth of his career. The ballpark exploded as Zim rounded the bases, having blown the game open and earning a curtain call from the appreciative crowd.

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: With each passing start, Strasburg distances himself further and further from the pitcher who looked like a wreck during the season’s first couple of months. He has maintained a consistent level of dominance since returning from his latest DL stint, and tonight retired 15 straight batters after serving up a 2-run homer to Jedd Gyorko in the top of the second. Strasburg appeared extra pumped for this one, consistently hitting 97-98 mph on his fastball (and locating it, as well). In seven starts dating back to his first DL stint this season, he is now 5-1 with a 1.51 ERA, 50 strikeouts and seven walks.

KEY STAT: The Nationals are now 36-24 when Span plays this season, 27-37 when he doesn’t.

UP NEXT: Gio Gonzalez (9-6, 3.98) takes the mound for the Nationals on Wednesday night, going up against Joe Ross’ older brother Tyson (8-9, 3.32) at 7:05 p.m.

  1. abqnatsfan - Aug 25, 2015 at 10:20 PM

    At the end of the season, this could be a game to look back at as when the pieces were all there and the “we have time” approach ended. One can hope anyway (even if they do play out well it is still late to close that much ground without help).

    • veejh - Aug 25, 2015 at 10:23 PM

      Amen, brother.

      Let us pray.

  2. raleighnat - Aug 25, 2015 at 10:44 PM

    Darn Phillies! Score 11 runs against vaunted mets pitching and now win

  3. raleighnat - Aug 25, 2015 at 10:44 PM

    Darn Phillies! Score 11 runs against vaunted mets pitching and no win

    • raleighnat - Aug 25, 2015 at 10:45 PM

      Actually meant 12 runs

      • senators69 - Aug 25, 2015 at 10:59 PM

        Can never count on the other team. Gotta do it yourself, IMHO.

      • stoatva - Aug 25, 2015 at 11:03 PM

        Let’s just say that if your plan relies heavily on the Phillies, Braves and Marlins, you may not have the best plan.

      • Eugene in Oregon - Aug 25, 2015 at 11:08 PM

        Why you can’t rely on those teams, the Nats are going to need some help from them.

      • Eugene in Oregon - Aug 25, 2015 at 11:08 PM

        Correction: While you can’t…

    • stoatva - Aug 25, 2015 at 11:01 PM

      I thought Howard got Clippard leading off the ninth, but hit it too far out on the end of the bat and it died on the warning track in dead center. Gave up a single and a walk before striking out D Brown on change up and Familia came in for the four out save.

      Although he got the win Syndergaard looks to me like he’s on fumes. Kind of like Stras around this time in 2012. But they do score some runs.

      • edgs3rd1978 - Aug 26, 2015 at 8:23 AM

        deGrom may actually be on fumes, but not Syndergaard. deGrom didn’t have his usual velocity..even in the first couple of innings (siting around 94mph). Syndergaard was touching 99 and 100 even in his final inning. Syndergaard’s problems here lately have to do with his immaturity. He’s not sequencing his pitches effectively. I think a lot of his hr balls here lately have been a result of the hitter knowing a fastball is coming.

  4. stoatva - Aug 25, 2015 at 11:16 PM

    Eugene, I think at some point the Mets come back to earth. If the Nats can trim two games from their lead by Labor Day it’s game on.

    • raleighnat - Aug 26, 2015 at 8:21 AM

      Nats schedule is soooo weak though.

  5. nats106 - Aug 25, 2015 at 11:29 PM

    Nice game to go to. A young man sitting beside me actually played with Anthony Rendon on his HS team. Nice talking to him, I wish he could say the same about me. Unfortunately I had to give him a taste of Sec 106. Despite that, he was polite. Although he didn’t have the same baseball success as Tony Twobags, I suspect he will be quite successful in his own right. Currently going to MIT’s graduate program,

    To boot, he’s a big Astros fan, so you gotta love that.

    Go Nats, Go Stros and when it comes down to it, go home and go to bed…..

    Tomorrow night I want to hang out with Micksback. Mick, you going to be there tomorrow?

  6. Section 222 - Aug 26, 2015 at 12:21 AM

    Great game tonight. So much fun at the park. Things I liked:

    1. The crowd’s welcome for @ThisIsDSpan. Heartwarming.
    2. Desi batting 7th, Ramos 8th. That’s more like it.
    3. Bryce’s double almost off the end of the bat. He just reached out and knocked it off the wall.
    4. Desi’s opposite field poke for an RBI.
    5. Desi hustling that poke into a double. Matt Kemp is still a liability in the field, wherever you put him.
    6. Esco getting two sharp hits and a BB after being out for a few games. Does that guy ever slump?
    7. Desi’s all out dash trying to catch a foul pop. He didn’t get there, but effort was great to see.
    8. Stras’s rising fastball leading to 7 Ks in 6 innings. He really was impressive tonight. After the third inning, I said to my friend, “maybe he’ll have one of those nights where he gives up a few runs early and then settles down and retires 12 in a row or something.” Turned out to be 15. Not bad.
    9. Zim’s slam. Enough said.
    10. Several nicely turned DPs by Rendon.
    11. Treinen starting to walk to the dugout pretty much as soon as the ball was hit into one of those DPs.
    12. Watching my friend’s 7-year old daughter fill out her scorecard. That’s pretty much all she did with it but it was very cute.

    Those of us in Section 321 where I sat tonight had absolutely no idea what was going on with the long argument Murphy had with the umps. I was pretty sure he had already been tossed since no ump is going to let a manager rant that long and not run him. But none of us saw the actual ejection.

    I’ve since learned that he was upset about the call on Bryce’s “foul” ball. Honestly, I thought Bryce had grounded out to end the inning. Then when he went back to the plate, I figured he had hit the ball off his foot. But I sure didn’t notice that happening, And had no idea that it was controversial at the time.

    Oh, one other thing I liked:

    13. The President’s race. Very funny to have the two Gnome impersonators.

    • scmargenau - Aug 26, 2015 at 12:36 AM

      Deuces – are u not in section 222? That section won something tonight.

      Great night at the park.

      • Section 222 - Aug 26, 2015 at 1:07 AM

        Nah. I was in Section 222 from 2008 to 2010. Then switched to Section 314 (mostly because of the sun in 222). I often sit elsewhere in the Inf. Gallery. Tonight was in 321.

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