Sep 10, 2013, 10:13 PM EDT
Game in a nutshell: Just as they did Monday night, the Nationals pounced on Mets pitching for some quick runs, this time getting to notorious Nat-killer Dillon Gee. Jayson Werth continued his torrid season at the plate with a solo homer in the first, then added an RBI double in the third to score Denard Span (who extended his hitting streak to 21 games). In between, Adam LaRoche homered, giving Jordan Zimmermann a 3-0 cushion. Zimmermann, though, suffered a quick and surprising collapse in the sixth, allowing three straight hits and departing with the Nationals now clinging to a 4-3 lead. The bullpen did its job to protect that lead, then got a boost on Scott Hairston’s pinch-hit, 2-run homer in the top of the ninth. They wound up winning for the 21st time in their last 30 games, improving to a season-best 6 games over the .500 mark. And with the Reds getting clobbered by the Cubs, they’re about to move to within 6 games of the final NL Wild Card berth with 18 games to play.
Hitting highlight: Werth entered the day as the NL’s new leader in slugging percentage and OPS. Then he went out and improved his standing in both categories, while also climbing up the batting average leaderboard. Werth launched a solo homer in the first, missed another by a couple of feet and settled for an RBI double in the third and then laced another double in the sixth. Even after popping out in his final at-bat, Werth is now hitting .328 for the season, with a .401 on-base percentage and .548 slugging percentage. His average and slugging numbers are career-highs, and his OBP is only three points behind his personal best.
Pitching highlight: Zimmermann’s uncharacteristically quick exit put the pressure on the Nationals bullpen to record 12 outs with a 1-run lead. That group delivered in impressive fashion. Craig Stammen faced two batters and recorded three outs (thanks in part to a caught-stealing attempt). Drew Storen pitched his way around two walks to notch a scoreless seventh inning. Tyler Clippard’s heart stopped for just a moment when Matt den Dekker launched a drive to deep right-center in the eighth, but he breathed a sigh of relief when Werth camped under the ball at the warning track. Hairston’s homer in the top of the ninth gave Rafael Soriano some breathing room, and the closer responded by recording his 40th save.
Key stat: In winning by three runs, the Nationals’ run differential for the season is now zero. They’ve scored 579 runs and given up 579 runs.
Up next: Game 3 of this four-game series features Dan Haren, trying to bounce back from an awful start in Miami, and young Mets fireballer Zack Wheeler. Bryce Harper is expected to return to the Nationals’ lineup after sitting out four straight games with left hip inflammation. First pitch is again scheduled for 7:10 p.m.
COUNTDOWN TO OPENING DAY
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As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...
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