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Nats 8, Braves 4: Another blowout leads Nats into big series vs. Mets

Sep 6, 2015, 4:42 PM EDT

USA Today

GAME IN A NUTSHELL: Some Nats fans and those in the media who follow the team on a regular basis may have looked past this weekend’s series against the Atlanta Braves, with the first-place New York Mets up next and all. But the Nationals themselves sure didn’t.

They blasted the Braves again on Sunday for their third blowout win in four days, capping off a four-game sweep to make it five straight wins overall as they get ready for the mighty Metropolitans. Their latest victory was a 8-4 demolition that was basically over in the second inning.

Rookie Joe Ross struggled for the second straight start, but it didn’t matter with the way the Nats’ offense has been rolling. They hit three homers in this one, including the third for Bryce Harper in as many games. He now has 34 on the season to match his jersey number.

Jayson Werth and Anthony Rendon added home runs of their own. Michael Taylor returned to the starting lineup with a double and two RBI. Yunel Escobar added three hits for his 41st multi-hit game of the season in 119 total appearances. He’s notched three hits or more in 11 of those outings.

Sammy Solis, Casey Janssen, Felipe Rivero, Drew Storen and Jonathan Papelbon followed Ross to mop up the rest of this one. The win pushed the Nats to 71-65 on the season. They are six games over .500 for the first time since Aug. 1. They have won five straight games for just the fourth time this season and the first time since June 28 when they won a season-high eight in a row.

The Mets lost in walk-off fashion to the Miami Marlins on Sunday afternoon. That means the Nats will be down just four games entering this week’s series with a golden chance to gain some serious ground in the NL East.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: There were plenty of offensive highlights for the Nationals in this win, but it’s hard to top a five-run inning, which they accomplished in the second off Braves starter Manny Banuelos.

The rally started with a single by Escobar and a walk by Ian Desmond. Taylor came up two batters later and laced a double to the corner in left field. That scored both runners and provided an emphatic ‘welcome back’ moment for Taylor, who had been sidelined in recent games with a sore right knee.

That was a big hit, but it would be topped just two batters later. Ross was hit by a pitch on the hip to join Taylor on base. Both were then brought home on a rocket home run to left field by Werth. It was his seventh of the season and it scored three runs to put the Nats up four runs at the time.

Werth just continues to thrive in the leadoff spot. In 17 games hitting at the top of the order, Werth is now batting 23-for-70 (.329) with four homers, 11 RBI, seven doubles and 16 runs.

PITCHING LOWLIGHT: Ross entered Sunday looking to overcome the worst outing of his career, a six-walk disaster in St. Louis. He was better, at least early on, but still finished with some ugly numbers overall.

Ross again struggled with his command with three walks in 4 1/3 innings of work. He also gave up four earned runs – two of which came against Sammy Solis after he left – and failed to record a strikeout. Considering how good Ross was when he first came up this season at keeping his walk-rate down, that has to be concerning.

Ross, in fact, had 47 strikeouts to only four walks through his first seven MLB starts. In his last six he has only 21 strikeouts to 16 walks. The supreme command Ross showed early on has apparently escaped him. Whether it’s due to his workload – Ross reached 149 2/3 total innings on the season Sunday – or not, it has become an obvious issue for the rookie.

KEY STAT: The Nats finished this four-game sweep by outscoring their dormant rivals 36-8, an average score of 9-2 per game. That’s pure, unadulterated domination.

UP NEXT: The series we’ve all been waiting for. The first-place New York Mets come to town for a three-game set at Nationals Park. The first game is a 1:05 p.m. start on Labor Day with Max Scherzer (11-11, 2.89) and LHP Jon Niese (8-10, 4.17) set to start.

  1. natfan33 - Sep 6, 2015 at 5:06 PM

    Heck of a shot Rendon made with his gum on the camera lens after the game, but he might catch some flack for that. Go Nats! Great game.

    • Whynat - Sep 6, 2015 at 5:27 PM

      Great win that sets us up perfectly for the Mets series. GYFNG!!

    • Whynat - Sep 6, 2015 at 5:32 PM

      Yeah, reminds me of something my 8 year old nephew would do. His agent or Nats PR types, or someone needs to have a word with him. I get it if he doesn’t want to be interact with the media. No problem. But he doesn’t need to by rude and childish toward his own fans, which that was.

  2. Theophilus T.S. - Sep 6, 2015 at 5:37 PM

    Williams appears to have his BP set up, too. Everyone should be available tomorrow.

    • adcwonk - Sep 6, 2015 at 5:55 PM

      As opposed to the Mets — Clippard threw 41 pitches! (What were they thinking?)

      • virginiascopist - Sep 6, 2015 at 6:10 PM

        “What were they thinking?”

        Well, my guess is they were trying to silence the critics who complained that Clip should have pitched two innings on Friday night.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 6, 2015 at 10:04 PM

        I think they were trying to win. I do not think anybody in the ML manages to the “critics” in the media or the stands, nevermind the Internet.

      • adcwonk - Sep 7, 2015 at 10:58 AM

        I recall somebody writing here that nobody was even warming up in the BP.

        Kinda reminds me of that game Janssen lost.

        So, let me rephrase the question: why did he think leaving in Clip so long, even after loading the bases, was the best way to win?

  3. Joe Seamhead - Sep 6, 2015 at 5:43 PM

    Personally, I am not quite ready to give up on Jayson Werth yet. ( yeah, I know, I’m a broken record, but so were the JW bashers).

    • kgwcoach - Sep 6, 2015 at 5:56 PM

      +28

    • realdealnats - Sep 6, 2015 at 6:02 PM

      Love Jayson too Joe. Have never given up on him.

  4. realdealnats - Sep 6, 2015 at 6:01 PM

    Right on the Mets’ shoulder heading into the homestretch. Right where I’ve wanted us to be all along. If we can’t beat them the way we need to head to head, then we don’t deserve to win it. If we do take 4 of 6 or better, and make up the others if need be, then we sail into the playoffs with momentum, with an edge, and full of confidence. Better than being 15 games out front worrying some upstart team might steal it from us in the short season imo.

    • npb99 - Sep 6, 2015 at 6:33 PM

      Yep, I was hoping since last winter that the Nats would have to fight to get into the playoffs, instead of just cruising through September like in 12 and 14. If they pull this off, they’ll be in battle-mode come the playoffs.

    • Another_Sam - Sep 6, 2015 at 7:46 PM

      I like meaningful games this time of year. But I’d also take a 15 game lead. Haha

  5. Section 222 - Sep 6, 2015 at 6:08 PM

    Mets fans have to be very nervous. If the Nats win 2 of 3, the lead is down to 3 games. If they sweep, it’s 1. This is a pennant race. It’s going to be a blast out there tomorrow.

  6. mdmcommish - Sep 6, 2015 at 6:22 PM

    There have been games earlier this year when there were as many as 300-400 comments diring and after a game. We seem to be at 10-20 now. Where did everybody go?

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 6, 2015 at 9:12 PM

      Interesting. I responded to this twice. Both seem to have been disappeared.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 6, 2015 at 9:24 PM

        Short answer: A few posters were responsible for the bulk of the traffic lately. Two or three of them were consistently and annoyingly disparaging, which generated protesting responses at about a four- or five-to-one rate. But those [folks] never posted when the Nats were leading, nevermind on a winning streak. Otherwise, there were two, possibly three other posters whose logorrhea accounted for maybe 200 of the 300-400 posts, alone, nevermind the responses to them, if any. They are at another site now, along with several other posters. It’s a new site, user-run and user-funded. Worth looking at. No Mark, but no trolls, either.

  7. mdmcommish - Sep 6, 2015 at 6:23 PM

    During!

  8. mdmcommish - Sep 6, 2015 at 6:51 PM

    Hey, pullout the schedule and start counting. There are two,off days that would allow us to skip past our #5 starter which allows us to pitch 1,2,3 (max, Jordan, stras) the last three days of the season against the mets, Is williams thinking the same, or is he stubbornly going to let the season come down to going and tanner?

    • Theophilus T.S. - Sep 6, 2015 at 7:40 PM

      One of the off-days has been filled by a rainout.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 6, 2015 at 9:28 PM

        Sept. 28, Reds game, here, 3PM.

    • ArVAFan - Sep 6, 2015 at 9:50 PM

      They still have 10th and 14th off. Only the 28th was taken for the Reds. It will be weird to have the “Fan Finale” and all that on the 27th, and still have one home game after that. Given that the Reds are already out of it, I wonder how much of a fight they’ll put up on a make-up game at the end of September. They could be phoning it in, or they could be playing spoiler.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 6, 2015 at 10:01 PM

        IF the race is still on then (and I assume it will be), the Reds are MLB players. I figure they’ll be pissed they have to be here on their day off, and be looking to take it out on us.

  9. mdmcommish - Sep 6, 2015 at 7:15 PM

    Gio and tanner. Damn spell check.

  10. Alex - Sep 6, 2015 at 7:58 PM

    Where was Ryan Zimmerman tonight?

  11. unkyd59 - Sep 6, 2015 at 8:52 PM

    My Facebook status:

    Nats win. Mets lose.

    The gap narrows to 4 games.

    Mets come to town, tomorrow, for 3.

    Playoff Baseball Begins….NOW!

    • ArVAFan - Sep 6, 2015 at 9:46 PM

      +3.

      I’m asking for a lot, but hey, if you don’t ask, you don’t get, right?

  12. ehay2k - Sep 6, 2015 at 10:11 PM

    Nice to see the Nats win without the red-hot Zimmerman in the lineup. The team appears to be rounding into form right now, and that is what we need. I am also in the camp of those that believe fighting to get into the playoffs will help the team that gets into the playoffs.

    As for the Mets, the NY media frenzy around Harvey’s innings limit has begun. His manhood has already been questioned for even considering a limit. Nice. Some shall see how they deal with that along with the pressure of a real pennant race.

    I am looking forward to being at games 2 and 3 of this series.

    GYFNG!!

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