The Nats had a life saving series this weekend against the Atlanta Braves. This is the first time they split or won a series against the Braves September 2013. By winning 2 games in the series, they stay in first place in the NL East and the Braves are 1.5 games behind.
The Nationals had outstanding pitching on Thursday by Jordan Zimmermann, who held Atlanta to 2 runs in 7 strong innings, but received a tough loss 3-0; Saturday by Doug Fister who had 8 scoreless innings in a very important win 3-0; and on Sunday by Tanner Roark and the Nats bullpen. Tanner threw 5 1/3 1-run innings and then Craig Stammen pitched 1 2/3rds of perfect baseball – Chris Johnson got so frustrated that he was ejected after a check-swing appeal. Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano had 2 perfect innings combined, 3 K’s, and 1 Justin Upton ejection. The only pitcher who did not have a great game was Stephen Strasburg on Friday, but Anthony Rendon hit a 2-run home run in the bottom of the 9th off Craig Kimbrel to make the game very exciting. The game went 13 inning, which means there were 2 Presidents Races. Ultimately, the Nats lost that game.
The Nats pulled ahead in first place, but as the lucky braves go south and west to Houston, the Nats go to the land of cheese to face the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Brewers may be the surprise of the year. I predicted them to be in 4th in their division, but so far they are in 1st. The last time they were close to being contenders was in 2011 when they lost to the eventual world series champion Cardinals in the NLCS. The Brewers have also been tough for the Nats to beat in the past. Last year, they tied the season series, where the home team lost the first two and salvaged the last game. That was then and now the Brewers lead the Cardinals by 5.5 games and have the best record in the National League. When the Nats were in San Fran, the Giants had the best record in the National League, but our guys had no trouble against them. Hopefully the Nats can be the same “NL Best” spoiler again.
That leads me to my conclusion. The Nats will probably lose tonight in Gio Gonzalez’s 2nd start since his return from the DL. Jordan Zimmermann is always motivated by his home crowd, as Jordan is from Auburndale, WI, which is 2 hours 45 minutes from Miller Park. The Nats face an easy pitcher on Wednesday in Marco Estrada, and I think the Nats will take 2 out of 3 in America’s Dairyland.
After Milwaukee, the Nats drive down to Chicago, where I will be seeing them live at Wrigley Field. Stay tuned on MattsBats.com and Twitter @MattsBats for updates from my Chicago adventure.
June 23- 8:10 PM ET- Gio Gonzalez (3-4, 4.85 ERA) vs. Matt Garza (4-4, 4.02 ERA) ESPN2
June 24- 8:10 PM ET-Jordan Zimmermann (5-4, 2.95 ERA) vs. Yovani Gallardo (5-4, 3.34 ERA)
June 25- 2:10 PM ET- Stephen Strasburg (6-5, 3.24 ERA) vs. Marco Estrada (6-4, 5.22 ERA)