Well, as crazy as it sounds, the Nats just swept the Phillies at Home with outstanding pitching performances from Dan Haren on Friday, Taylor Jordan on Saturday, and especially the #1 starter on Sunday, Stephen Strasburg.
The offense was great too. Anthony Rendon had major offensive days on Friday and Saturday, and Wilson Ramos took Rendon’s place with 3 RBIs on Sunday. Jayson Werth, the NL Player of the Month for July, continued to swing his hot bat. He recorded his 1,000th career hit, which was a go-ahead home run in the exciting Saturday game.
The weekend’s biggest star was Stephen Strasburg on the Sunday finale. Stras was in total command when he stepped on the mound, and he dominated. His fastball was touching 99 mph, and he had a big slow curve dropping into the 70s. After giving up a lead-off single in the first inning, he got Kevin Frandsen to strike out looking on a curveball, and got Chase Utley to ground into a 4-6-3 double play. He got 8 more Ks during the game, including swinging strikeouts of Darin Ruf in all 3 of his plate appearances.
Strasburg got plenty of run support from his offense in the game, too. In the first, Jayson Werth hit an RBI single for career hit 1,001 that drove in Denard Span from second. Two more runs were added in the 4th off of RBIs by Wilson Ramos and Span.
The most interesting play came in the 5th. With bases loaded, Ramos hit a chopper to Chase Utley at second. Utley threw home for the force at home, but the throw was wide and catcher Erik Kratz misplayed the ball. This allowed Jayson Werth scored. As the ball rolled a few feet by home plate, Ian Desmond scored by hustling down the line. Kratz dropped the ball again, and Desmond was safe. That made it 5-0 in favor of the Nats. Another run crossed the plate off of Steve Lombardozzi’s bat.
Strasburg was dominant against the Phillies. The Nats defense also looked sharp. Chase Utley was hitless: he grounded into 2 double plays and popped up foul. Ruf sat down on Ks three times. Cody Asche, Eric Kratz, Carlos Ruize, Michael Martinez, Kyle Kendrick and Casper Wells were all hitless. Wilson Ramos threw out Dominic Brown trying to steal by launching a strike to Lombo in the 2nd.
It was an exciting 9th inning. As Strasburg took took the mound in the 9th, he threw a little chin music to Carlos Ruiz, who flied out to Span for out #1. Strasburg got Jimmy Rollins to fly out to Zimmerman for out #2. Finally, Kevin Frandsen lined out on an amazing grab by Ryan Zimmerman to end the game. It was the best defensive play by Zimmerman, in my opinion, all year, by far! Strasburg pitched his first career complete game shutout with only 99 pitches. He also recorded only 4 hits to 3 batters and 9 strikeouts.
During the game, I sat with my friend Tori, who is a Nationals ballgirl and also leader of #TeamNotMiserable.
After the game, I met up with a few Nats super-fans: Tori (@toribelle4), her friend Jeremiah, Nationals Archivists Laura Roose (@lauraroose) and Brendan Sheridan (@DCSportsShopped), David and Julie Morris (@davidmorris9656 and @juliemorris2010), Jon Feng (@jonfeng1) and Peter (@pjhog). I also talked with my favorite Nats color commentator, F.P. Santangelo (@fightinhydrant). F.P. showed up wearing a Nats Archive Run Until They Tag You t-shirt, which made Laura and Brendan very excited. F.P. asked me if I kept score. I showed him my scorecard.
He told me that he was going to get Strasburg to sign his scorecard and he’ll frame it. That’s how good the game was!
By sweeping the Phillies, the Nationals kind of put an end to the Nats-Phillies rivalry. Now our biggest rivals are the Braves. The weekend’s performance also keeps hope alive for the Nats getting the 2nd Wild Card spot if they can leap over the Diamondbacks and Reds.
Do you think we should go back to #TeamUpsideDown for the Giants series at home? It didn’t work so well in San Francisco. Maybe the series hashtag will be #StepOnTheGiANTS
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