Sep 28, 2013, 12:37 AM EST
Game in a nutshell: The Nationals opened their final series of the season, one with zero playoff implications, but put forth a solid all-around effort to earn the victory. Stephen Strasburg allowed two runs over seven strong innings to cap his year. Jayson Werth and Wilson Ramos each clubbed 3-run homers to pace a well-balanced offensive attack. And Ryan Zimmerman made several spectacular plays at third, continuing his late-season defensive surge. Put it all together and the Nationals enjoyed a comfortable win, their 85th of the season.
Hitting highlight: After a torrid summer, Werth had cooled off somewhat over the last few weeks, but he reminded everyone tonight just how potent his bat remains. The veteran right fielder reached base in his first three plate appearances, singling to right, drawing a walk and coming around to score and then launching an absolute bomb to left field. That 3-run homer, Werth’s 25th of the season, struck the facade of the second deck at Chase Field, nearly landing in the TGI Friday’s up there right into some unsuspecting soul’s plate of Extreme Chicken Crispers. Werth is going to wind up in the top-5 in the NL in batting average, on-base percentage and OPS. Had the Nats made the playoffs, you have to wonder if he’d be getting MVP consideration right now.
Pitching highlight: It wasn’t his crispest performance, especially early on when he walked the Diamondbacks’ No. 8 hitter and then plunked the opposing pitcher on a 1-2 curveball when he was trying to bunt. But Strasburg got better as the night progressed, retired 13 of the last 15 batters he faced and ended his season on a high note. Aside from an 8-9 record that mostly wasn’t his fault, Strasburg wound up with some really solid numbers: a 3.00 ERA, 183 innings over 30 starts, a 1.05 WHIP, 191 strikeouts and 56 walks. He pitched at least seven innings in 16 of his 30 starts (after doing that only five times in 28 starts last year) and completed at least eight innings five times (after never doing that in his career). There’s still plenty of room for improvement, but Strasburg did take some real steps forward this season.
Key stat: Since his recall from Class AAA Syracuse in mid-August, Tyler Moore is hitting .364 (20-for-55).
Up next: In the penultimate game of the season, Dan Haren will try to wrap up a disappointing year on a high note and earn his 10th win. Haren will face his former club, with right-hander Brandon McCarthy on the mound for the D’backs. First pitch is scheduled for 8:10 p.m. EDT.
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As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...
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