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Nats 4, Phillies 0: Strasburg and Harper dominate

Sep 15, 2015, 9:41 PM EDT

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GAME IN A NUTSHELL: It won’t come as much consolation near the end of a disappointing season, but there are still nights when you can appreciate just how special Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper can be. This was one of those nights, and it deserves to be appreciated.

The Nationals’ two No. 1 draft picks were on full display during this victory at Citizens Bank Park, each dominating the Phillies in his own way, turning what would otherwise have been a dreary September ballgame into something more than that.

Strasburg mowed down the Philadelphia lineup with ease. He allowed only one hit during his eight innings (Cody Asche’s sharp single through the right side of the infield in the fifth). He walked only one batter (Freddy Galvis in the first). He struck out 14, matching the career-high he set in his major-league debut five years ago.

Harper, meanwhile, provided the Nationals’ entire offensive output of the night. He homered twice and drove in another run with a third-inning single to center, maintaining his late-season surge and giving Strasburg some cushion with which to work.

It probably won’t make a difference in the outcome of the season, but that shouldn’t minimize what those two young stars did on this night.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: So much for Harper’s late-summer power outage. Whatever concern there was about that has completely vanished over the last couple of weeks. With his first-inning blast to center field tonight, and then a 2-run shot to left in the eighth, Harper now has hit eight homers in his last 11 games. That gives him 39 on the season, which trails only Alfonso Soriano (46) for the Nationals single-season record. Harper’s season, of course, has been about so much more than home runs, and all of that was on display in this game. His RBI single in the third provided a key run. And his walk in the sixth raised his on-base percentage to .467. His OPS is now up to 1.134. If he can maintain that through the season’s final two weeks, it’ll be MLB’s highest mark since Barry Bonds (1.422) in 2004.

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: It felt like Strasburg had been building up to a night like this. He had been on a roll over the last couple of months, and his 13-strikeout performance against the Mets last week was a taste of things to come. Strasburg put it all together this time, with his 1-hit, 1-walk, 14-strikeout performance, as impressive an outing as he has authored since his ballyhooed MLB debut five years ago. Strasburg induced 30 swings and misses, which according to ESPN trails only Clayton Kershaw and Johan Santana over the last decade. Over his last 10 starts, Strasburg is now 6-2 with a 2.07 ERA, 79 strikeouts and nine walks.

KEY STAT: With 112 walks, Harper is now only four shy of Adam Dunn’s club record, set in 2009.

UP NEXT: The series wraps up at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday when Gio Gonzalez (10-7, 3.88) takes the mound against left-hander Adam Morgan (5-6, 4.60). No word yet if Foggy Bottom will be catching for the Phillies.

  1. natsfan1a - Sep 15, 2015 at 9:54 PM

    Eh, I can still appreciate a great individual performance, regardless of the team’s place in the standings. Maybe it’s a legacy from the years of suckitude. I’ll take it. Atta way, Stephen. Atta way, Bryce. (Nice hug of the skip, btw.)

    • natsfan1a - Sep 15, 2015 at 9:55 PM

      Oh, and, memo to Bryce, nice work, despite the lack of butts in the seats. ūüėČ Speaking of which, I could hear the Nats fans in the, um, crowd cheering over the broadcast. Atta way, Nats fans. Atta way.

      • ArVAFan - Sep 15, 2015 at 10:12 PM

        Silver lining for Phillies fans: over the last couple of games, the ratio of homers to fans was such that pretty much everyone had a chance for a souvenir! (Yes, I heard the Nats fans. But they’re mostly close by the visitor’s dugout–safety in numbers and all that).

  2. janebeard - Sep 15, 2015 at 9:55 PM

    What a great game Stras pitched. And Bryce! Way to show those f-heads. Now for the Fish to hold on.

  3. sec112 - Sep 15, 2015 at 9:55 PM

    What about Chevy Chase?

    • natsfan1a - Sep 15, 2015 at 9:57 PM

      I don’t know, but Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead.

      • sec112 - Sep 15, 2015 at 10:54 PM

        I meant as a battery mate for Adam Morgan!

      • natsfan1a - Sep 16, 2015 at 6:54 AM

        Ohhh, got it.

  4. tcostant - Sep 15, 2015 at 10:01 PM

    i’ll be there Thursday, would love to see #40. I was there when Soriano locked into 40/40, would love to add this.

  5. Drew - Sep 15, 2015 at 11:05 PM

    Understand what we’re watching here. At 22 Harper has tied the great Stan Musial’s career high of 39 home runs.

    Musial topped Harper’s current OPS just once in his storied career.

    Ted Williams hit this many home runs once in his career, when he topped out at 43.

    As for OPS, Teddy Ballgame was another level of super human.

    But the Splinter would appreciate this Kid, too.

  6. whatsanattau - Sep 15, 2015 at 11:18 PM

    Wow. This is the commenting crowd I have missed so much. NF1a you’re the best. Such nice people. I’d come back more often for this.

    Rendon and Werth are coming back around too. I really will miss the free agents but the core players if healthy will still make a very fine team. Don’t stop believing.

    • natsfan1a - Sep 16, 2015 at 5:45 AM

      Good to “see” you, whatsa. I always enjoy reading your comments.

  7. Steve silock - Sep 16, 2015 at 3:50 AM

    My friends and I keep wondering why starters aren’t permitted to finish a game….when I was a kid starters pitch counts were often in the 130s on up…without arm problems like pitchers today….seeing one guy go the distance and pitch a shutout was always a thrill for me…

    • alexva6 - Sep 16, 2015 at 8:00 AM

      “without arm problems like pitchers today”

      pitchers just pitched until their arms fell off. and they usually did in their early thirties.

      as an old Senators fan I remember Joe Coleman and screamed the day he was dealt to the Tigers for a washed up Denny McClain. check out his stats

      http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/c/colemjo05.shtml

      I know there are exceptions but they are just that.

  8. Kaylee - Sep 16, 2015 at 6:54 AM

    He will get to like 48 homeruns, he will be the mvp.

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