Jun 5, 2014, 6:44 PM EST
GAME IN A NUTSHELL: The Nationals completed a three-game sweep of the struggling Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday afternoon with another impressive showing from their offense.
Now healthy, the Nationals are starting to torment opposing pitchers and that continued in their 4-2 win over the Phillies. Ryan Zimmerman knocked in an RBI in the bottom of the first to tie the game at one before the Nats broke it open in the fifth inning with a three-run outburst.
Doug Fister was sharp once again for the Nationals, recovering from the run he allowed in the first to pitch seven innings of two-run ball. He took his fourth win of the season also flashed his glove in an all-around good day for the right-hander.
The Nats are now 30-28 on the season and one game out of first in the National League East. The Atlanta Braves – who sit atop the division with a 31-27 record – were off Thursday.
HITTING HIGHLIGHT: The fifth inning saw the Nationals break out with three runs to take a commanding lead over Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick. With the score tied at 1-1, Denard Span led off the inning with a double off the wall in right field. He then tagged up to reach third on an Anthony Rendon flyout that was about two feet from clearing the fence in center. Jayson Werth then brought Span home on a single up the middle.
With Werth on first, Adam LaRoche crushed a towering home run into the home bullpen in right field to make it a 4-1 game. It was LaRoche’s eighth homer of the season, tying him with Rendon for second-most on the team. LaRoche is now slugging .531 on the year.
PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: Fister gave up a run in the first inning on a Chase Utley RBI single, but quickly settled in to put a strong outing for the fifth consecutive time. Fister was again in complete control, walking zero batters and allowing only four hits, including a solo home run to John Mayberry in the seventh. Through 36 2/3 total innings this season, he has just two walks.
Fister continues to impress after his forgettable season debut out in Oakland. Even with the five earned runs he gave up that night, he now holds a 3.19 ERA on the year. Take that start out of the equation and his ERA is 2.23 in his last five outings. Not bad, not bad at all.
Fister also stood out on Thursday with his glove. He made a nice putout on Jimmy Rollins in the first on a sacrifice bunt where he fielded the ball on a full sprint and beat the Phillies shortstop to first with a quick throw. Later in that inning he did a full split while covering first base on a double play attempt, showing off the elite athleticism that allowed him to play the position in college. Then, in the third inning, Fister went full extension across his body to make a near-diving grab on a Ben Revere comebacker on the pitchers mound. Fister might want to keep the tape of Thursday’s game when it comes time to hand out Gold Gloves.
KEY STAT: Nationals starters combined to post 20 strikeouts and only one walk in this series.
UP NEXT: The Nationals leave tonight for San Diego where they will begin a three-game series with the Padres on Friday. Tanner Roark (3-4, 3.25) and right-hander Tyson Ross (6-4, 2.85) will be your starters in a 10:10 p.m. start.
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
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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)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
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SAT: 10:30 a.m.
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