May 16, 2014, 10:17 PM EDT
GAME IN A NUTSHELL: After a rough stretch that included 11-of-14 games on the road, the Nationals finally got a chance to open a nice run of games at home — 15 of 19 — and clearly appeared to enjoy the familiar surroundings and enthusiastic crowd.
The Nats pounced on Mets left-hander Jonathan Niese, scoring three times in the bottom of the first and twice more in the bottom of the third. Handed a rare early lead. Tanner Roark then went to work. The right-hander cruised through four scoreless innings but then hit a bump in the fifth, allowing two runs and drawing an earlier-than-expected hook by manager Matt Williams.
No worries, because the Nationals bullpen took over from there and shut out New York over the game’s final four innings. Well, maybe there was slight reson to worry. Ross Detwiler, Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard ach tossed a scoreless frame, but then Rafael Soriano issued back-to-back, two-out walks, then a deep drive to right by Daniel Murphy that came within inches of tying the game. To the rescue came Jayson Werth, who jumped at the fence and robbed the homer, ensuring this homestand would commence on a positive note and securing the Nats’ ninth consecutive win over the Mets.
HITTING HIGHLIGHT: The Nationals have been eating up left-handed pitching all season, nobody more so than Jayson Werth and Scott Hairston. Werth went 2-for-3 against Niese, raising his batting average against lefties to a stout .457 (16-for-35). That’s tops in the NL. Hairston, in a smaller sample size, has been even better. With two hits of his own off Niese, he is now hitting .538 (7-for-13) against southpaws this season. Both veterans’ contributions proved key tonight, helping stake the Nationals to a quick 5-0 lead against the Mets.
PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: The usage of Detwiler this season has drawn plenty of discussion (and a fair bit of criticism), but tonight we saw an example of what he can do for this team. With Roark suddenly fading in the top of the fifth, Detwiler sprang to life in the bullpen and starting getting ready in a hurry. He wound up entering for the sixth, entrusted with a 5-2 lead and three straight left-handed hitters on deck. It was only the third time this season Detwiler has entered with the Nationals leading, the first time he’s entered with them leading by fewer than five runs. The way he pitched, we might start seeing him more in these situations. Detwiler got Curtis Granderson to ground out, then after a single by Bobby Abreu got Lucas Duda to ground into a double play.
KEY STAT: In 10 career starts at Nationals Park, Roark is now 5-0 with a 0.68 ERA.
UP NEXT: The series continues Saturday afternoon with a 4:05 p.m. start at Nationals Park. Gio Gonzalez looks to bounce back from a terrible outing in Oakland, with veteran right-hander Bartolo Colon on the mound for New York.
COUNTDOWN TO OPENING DAY
ON THE RADIO
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)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
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