Washington Nationals 4/30 – 5/6
By Jason Smith
The Nationals finally had the week we have all been waiting for. With a seven game west coast road trip coming up, it was important for the Nationals to have a strong home stand before hitting the road. The Nationals we able to win six of the seven games they played this week and with the rest of the division currently struggling, they were able to close some ground in the standings. Dave Martinez also introduced us to a lineup change in an attempt to get his star player going and based off the results, I would say it worked.
Monday, April 30th – Starting the week off against the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Washington Nationals gave Tanner Roark the start and he rewarded them with seven strong innings. Only allowing two earned runs through seven innings while striking out four, Roark picked up another quality start on the season. Brandon Kintzler and Ryan Madson were able to come in and shut down the Pirates offense over two innings to preserve the win. The Nationals offense was quiet but three runs would be enough for the win. Nationals 3, Pirates 2
Tuesday, May 1st – With the first month of the season over, Dave Martinez felt it was important to make a change in his line up with the hopes of getting his star player going. Moving Bryce Harper to lead off would guarantee that Harper would see more pitches to hit with the mindset that opposing teams would not like to walk the lead off hitter. The move made an immediate impact as Harper and the Nationals exploded for twelve runs in the game. With Max Scherzer on the mound, twelve runs would be more than enough to win the game. Nationals 12, Pirates 4
Wednesday, May 2nd – The third game of a four game series against the Pirates saw Stephen Strausburg match up against Ivan Nova. It also saw Bryce Harper hit his first career leadoff home run. Harper’s home run helped spark the offense for the game as the Nationals went on to score nine runs. Paired with Strausburg’s seven innings and eleven strikeouts, the Nationals were able to secure their fourth straight victory. Nationals 9, Pirates 3
Thursday, May 3rd – Going for the four game sweep, the Nationals sent Jeremy Hellickson to the mound. Hellickson has given the Nationals strong starts out of he 5th starter role and that didn’t change against the Pirates. Hellickson went 5.2 innings while striking out four and not allowing a run. The Nationals bullpen came in and helped secure the season sweep by only allowing one run over three innings. Nationals 3, Pirates 1
Friday, May 4th – The Nationals first of three games against the division rival Philadelphia Phillies began with Gio Gonzalez on the mound. Gio had a short outing, only pitching five innings and throwing 89 pitches. Even though it was such a short outing, Gio struck out five without allowing a run. Bryce Harper helped spark the offense with another lead-off home run. Behind Harper and Matt Adams, the Nationals scored seven runs in two innings giving the Gio and the bullpen plenty of support for the win. Nationals 7, Phillies 3
Saturday, May 5th – Tanner Roark got his second start of the week, this time against the Phillies. Roark added another quality start to his season by pitching 6.1 innings and allowing three runs and striking out nine. However the Nationals offense was unable to give him the support needed for the victory, ending the Nationals six game winning streak. Nationals 1, Phillies 3
Sunday, May 6th – In the rubber match, Max Scherzer took the mound against the Phillies. Scherzer was on the top of his game for this start striking out 15 batters in six innings. The offense struggled giving Scherzer the support as he left the game with only a 1-0 lead. The bullpen allowed 3 runs and the Nationals found themselves in a 4-1 hole in the bottom of the 8th inning. With bases loaded and two outs, Anthony Rendon made his presence felt in his first game back from injury with a two-RBI single. After Sean Doolittle held the Phillies scoreless in the 9thinning the Nationals were able to get to Hector Neris and tie the game in the bottom half of the inning. With the bases loaded Wilmer Difo hit a single to win the game for the Nationals first walk off victory of the season. Nationals 5, Phillies 4
Hopefully this week was the week the Nationals needed to turn the season around. Next week the Nationals head out west for another road trip. With another seven games in one week the Nationals will look to continue getting strong outings from their starting pitching to help relieve the bullpen over this 14-game stretch. The week starts in San Diego where Strausburg will get to pitch in his hometown and ends with four games in Arizona. Only two games out of first, the Nationals will look to gain more ground on their division rivals.
Current Record – 18-17; Fourth place in the N.L. East