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Instant analysis: Nats 4, Rockies 3

Jul 2, 2014, 9:17 PM EST

AP AP

GAME IN A NUTSHELL: Seeking a 3-game sweep of the Rockies and a 5-game winning streak overall, the Nationals dug themselves into an early hole when Michael McKenry launched a 3-run homer off Doug Fister in the top of the second. Fister, though, settled down after that, and even when the right-hander gave up hard-hit balls, his teammates had his back with several fine defensive plays. Ian Desmond, Denard Span, Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman all earned stars for highlight-reel plays, with Zimmerman making a pair of them in his third game back at third base.

That bought time for the Nationals lineup to figure out left-hander Tyler Matzek, which they were able to do by night’s end. A suddenly red-hot Jayson Werth clubbed a 2-run homer in the bottom of the fourth. Harper then hustled his way to the game-tying run, ultimately scoring on Desmond’s RBI single. And Desmond capped it all off three innings later with his 15th homer of the season (originally ruled a triple by umpires but changed to a home run after review in New York).

So that left the game in the hands of the Nationals’ bullpen, which got the job done yet again. Tyler Clippard struck out Troy Tulowitzki to quash a potential rally in the eighth. Rafael Soriano then finished it off for his 20th save in 21 opportunities. And thus the Nats completed their sweep of Colorado. They’ve now won 9 of 12 to improve to a season-best 8 games over .500.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: Maybe Werth knew what he was talking about when he said a well-stuck foul ball in the first inning Tuesday night might be just what he needed to get jump-started at the plate. All he has done since then is go 4-f0r-7 with two doubles, a homer, five RBI and two walks. This after going 42 plate appearances without any extra-base hits. His 2-run shot in the bottom of the fourth tonight was only his seventh of the season, a surprisingly low number for a guy who slugged 25 of them last year. But perhaps he’s about to go on a sustained tear at the plate, something the Nationals would love at this point.

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: This wasn’t typical Fister. Even when he recorded outs, most were in the air. He notched only six groundball outs in seven innings of work. He also served up a towering, 3-run homer to McKenry in the top of the second that put his team in an early hole. But the big right-hander still was able to be effective. He suffered no damage after that early blast, he relied on his defense to make some really nice plays. And, most importantly, he made the Rockies earn whatever they got at the plate. For the sixth time in 11 starts this season, Fister did not walk a batter. Over 70 2/3 total innings now with the Nationals, he has 42 strikeouts and only six walks.

KEY STAT: Ten of Desmond’s 15 homers this season have either tied the game or given the Nationals the lead.

UP NEXT: The Nationals are off tomorrow, but they’d be wise to get to bed early because they’ll be back at the park super-early on Friday. Yes, it’s the annual 11:05 a.m. Independence Day extravaganza, with the Cubs coming to town for the festivities. Tanner Roark faces Jason Hammel in a rematch of last Friday’s game at Wrigley Field, won by Chicago.

  1. Joe Seamhead - Jul 2, 2014 at 9:18 PM

    SWEET. FANCY. MOSES!

  2. Joe Seamhead - Jul 2, 2014 at 9:20 PM

    Great game by Desi, Zimm, Fister, Clippard, and yes, Soriano,too.

    • veejh - Jul 2, 2014 at 9:23 PM

      Werth

      • Joe Seamhead - Jul 2, 2014 at 9:25 PM

        Yes, Jayson also.And Bryce.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 2, 2014 at 9:37 PM

        Told you a good day to rest LaRoche. Matzek is a good pitcher. He made 3 or 4 bad pitches and his big mistake was falling behind Werth.

      • natsfan1a - Jul 2, 2014 at 9:52 PM

        Also a good game for the fan in the green shirt who was signaling home run throughout the review. Like FP said, get that man some ice!

        Speaking of Werth, was awesome when his son came out to hug him after the dinger.

  3. Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 2, 2014 at 9:24 PM

    Nats doing what they need to do. That was a great series.

  4. David Proctor - Jul 2, 2014 at 9:27 PM

    Soriano’s stuff was so good, it would’ve been a damn shame for him to blow a save thanks to a 10 pitch AB and a bloop. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that he has been dominant since his velo has been 92-94 instead of 88-91.

    • micksback1 - Jul 2, 2014 at 9:29 PM

      when he was up 0-2 on the count, why did he nor throw a pitch outside the zone? that is the only thing that scares me about Soriano

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 2, 2014 at 9:39 PM

        Yes, I agree. He needed to paint the black outside and high as McHenry can’t beat him on that and would swing through.

    • conatsguy - Jul 2, 2014 at 9:47 PM

      Actually I was happy he walked McHenry, he was locked in.

    • letswin3 - Jul 2, 2014 at 9:51 PM

      I think you have something there, DP ….about his velocity. As his velo increased over the last month, or so, his results have shown it. Not so much in saves, just in how he got those saves with less drama.

  5. manassasnatsfan - Jul 2, 2014 at 9:29 PM

    Wassin are you still angry at Fister?

  6. micksback1 - Jul 2, 2014 at 9:30 PM

    July 4 game should be a lot of fun and I think I will be there!!

  7. Sec 3 My Sofa - Jul 2, 2014 at 9:31 PM

    Great game, great save. Both sides doing their jobs well means a close game. Well played all around.

  8. scnatsfan - Jul 2, 2014 at 9:32 PM

    Just loving this nice streak and maalox free nights

    • adcwonk - Jul 2, 2014 at 9:45 PM

      Maalox free? I was trying to remember where I put it during the ninth — even though Soriano was pitching great, when they got a man on third . . . .

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 2, 2014 at 9:48 PM

        Pepto-BismolĀ®

      • scnatsfan - Jul 2, 2014 at 10:15 PM

        He had his stuff. Would have loved 123 but he was on.

      • adcwonk - Jul 2, 2014 at 10:18 PM

        He did have his stuff. But sometimes unlucky BABIP can get you . . .

        Nevertheless, the tension made the win a bit sweeter.

  9. veejh - Jul 2, 2014 at 9:34 PM

    Our pitching will win us many games. No runs after the Fister hanger. So good.

    • manassasnatsfan - Jul 2, 2014 at 9:42 PM

      Once Fister got the ball down he was fine.

  10. Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 2, 2014 at 9:35 PM

    Have you noticed how well Matt Williams has been managing. You look so much smarter when you are scoring runs. Nice to have a full roster. Dobbs is gone, Lobaton and Espi are coming off the bench. What a difference.

    • Sec 3 My Sofa - Jul 2, 2014 at 9:39 PM

      And just to be able to look down the bench and see “We have a Buffalo!” if it should come to that, has to feel good.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 2, 2014 at 9:47 PM

        Absolutely, he makes the bench strong if you need it. I still think the bench could use a July 31st upgrade. Hairston has 1 hit in the entire month of June and has come back to Earth from that mid-400’s BA.

    • scnatsfan - Jul 2, 2014 at 9:39 PM

      Winning makes him look awful smart, doesn’t it?

  11. Joe Seamhead - Jul 2, 2014 at 9:39 PM

    Soriano, so far this season: 34 innings, 34 games, 1.06 ERA
    By hook, or by crook, he has gotten very, very good results.
    He looks like he is about 20 lbs. lighter weight than he was last year.

    • manassasnatsfan - Jul 2, 2014 at 9:40 PM

      His fasrball faster too.

    • Section 222 - Jul 2, 2014 at 11:12 PM

      Here here! Today was a great save, even though a guy got to third. I love how people sitting on their couches are prepared to question his location and pitch decisions. I think I’ll take the guy who has over 80 saves in the last two years.

  12. manassasnatsfan - Jul 2, 2014 at 9:39 PM

    We need to pick this up Friday morning.

  13. micksback1 - Jul 2, 2014 at 9:39 PM

    that is how it should be Ghost. on to playing a strange Cubs team, if they win tonight they will be 6-4 the past 10 games, they are 9 under 500 on the road. they clearly are playing better baseball now than they were in May and earl June.

  14. David Proctor - Jul 2, 2014 at 9:41 PM

    The Cubs pitching is going to be tough. Hammel, who we never beat, Samardzija and Arrietta who has almost thrown a no hitter his last two times out.

    • micksback1 - Jul 2, 2014 at 9:43 PM

      That is what I mean David, they are a much better team than many think, i am trying to figure out why they are 10 under 500?

      • adcwonk - Jul 2, 2014 at 9:49 PM

        They were 9-17 by the end of April. Later, they started getting their act together.

  15. natsfan1a - Jul 2, 2014 at 9:50 PM

    Great win, and I stayed awake for the whole thing. (Okay, so it started earlier.)

    How about Fister? He’s good even when he isn’t good. Eh, you know what I mean.

  16. Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 2, 2014 at 9:54 PM

    That was 4 unanswered runs to win 4-3 and that was something we just didn’t see much of in 2013. This team is ready to get Matt Willaims to do his Babe Ruth impression.

  17. natsfan1a - Jul 2, 2014 at 9:57 PM

    Was thinking about that earlier. We’re halfway there! :-)

  18. conatsguy - Jul 2, 2014 at 10:02 PM

    MASN was blacked out here in Denver during this series.
    Rockies announcers were talking about after the win last night that Bryce and Denard did not do the outfield “chest bump” after the win, but they did the bump with Jason.
    Have not read all the recent posts but wonder if that has been discussed.
    Most likely sour grapes with the announcers..

    • David Proctor - Jul 2, 2014 at 10:12 PM

      That was the first night and it was a myth, it was just hard to see. Here is photo evidence of them celebrating last night:

      http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2014_07_01_colmlb_wasmlb_1&mode=photos%5B1%5D

      Harper also gave Span a tap on the behind after a good play.

      • conatsguy - Jul 2, 2014 at 10:17 PM

        Thanks David for the truth!
        Was hoping it was just “homer” reporting.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 2, 2014 at 10:18 PM

        Thank you for that. That myth as you say has had legs on the radio. They love drama and Bryce gave them material.

    • adcwonk - Jul 2, 2014 at 11:19 PM

      If Denard did much of a chest bump with Bryce, Denard would go flying off in the other direction!

  19. Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 2, 2014 at 10:05 PM

    MLB Headline on MLB.com: Nats get key HR on replay | Win 6th straight

    Interesting foreshadow……

    • manassasnatsfan - Jul 2, 2014 at 10:21 PM

      Yes on Friday Ramos’ homer will be reviewed in the 7-3 victory. Roark k 7 in picking up his 8th win.

    • snerdblurter - Jul 2, 2014 at 10:22 PM

      +1.

      Actually, -1 if we’re being literal…

  20. nycnatsfan - Jul 2, 2014 at 10:12 PM

    Mark, you’re a great reporter, but you’re too smart for this five RBI business. It’s RBIs. Each RBI is a single unit. The fact that the R in RBI stands for runs is irrelevant. When you have multiple RBIs, you’re counting individual units, or individual runs batted in, and when you count past one, you use the plural. This is unlike MPH, which is a measurement or rate of speed. You’re not counting mphs. You do count RBIs. And Jayson Werth had five RBIs.

    Sorry, needed to get that off my chest.

    • conatsguy - Jul 2, 2014 at 10:23 PM

      Don’t Tweet much do you (or is it Tweets)

      • nycnatsfan - Jul 2, 2014 at 10:33 PM

        Actually I sent several tweets earlier ;)

    • manassasnatsfan - Jul 2, 2014 at 10:24 PM

      Wow I didn’t know any one care. My students remind every year no cares about the Stuart and Tudors of England, besides my principal and me,

    • Andrew Wallace - Jul 2, 2014 at 10:36 PM

      This is a silly argument but you’re actually incorrect. It’s 5 “runs batted in” (RBI) similar to multiple “commanders in chief” where the plural attaches to the first word in the abbreviated sequence….having the “s” after the I would be bizarre, and thus 5 RBI is a perfectly adequate and actually the correct spelling. After all when u see somebody’s line for the month u don’t see “5 HRs, 18 RBIs, 16 Hs”. Even if all that wasn’t the case, I’m looking at ESPN.com and the sentence “McCutchen went 2-4 with 3 RBI Friday continuing his torrid last few weeks.” In any event, certainly not something that’s clearly the other way.

      • nycnatsfan - Jul 2, 2014 at 11:03 PM

        Espn started the whole RBI as opposed to RBIs thing several years ago, and they’re wrong. And I don’t know what you’re saying about commanders in chief. When you spell out runs batted in you certainly don’t say runs batted ins. We’re talking about the correct use of an abbreviation in a sentence. And there is no argument here. You drive in two RBIs not two RBI.

      • Sec 3 My Sofa - Jul 3, 2014 at 2:02 PM

        AP Style, which I assume Mark would default to, is
        RBI (singular), RBIs (plural).

    • Theophilus T.S. - Jul 2, 2014 at 10:37 PM

      If there is a distinction, it isn’t that “mph is a measurement.” It counts the no. of miles traveled in a given amount of time extrapolated from the present speed. And it isn’t always “miles per hour.” You have, for example, a “seventy mile-per-hour” speed limit. On the other hand, I think RBI is always singular, a “run batted in.” Multiple runs batted in are RBIs — plural.

    • Sec 3 My Sofa - Jul 2, 2014 at 10:41 PM

      While we gave you here, how many soldiers in a troop?

  21. Kyle - Jul 2, 2014 at 10:13 PM

    Great win for the Nats. Unfortunately the mets are the mets and can’t beat the braves once. Of course Soriano walked the tight rope again.

    • manassasnatsfan - Jul 2, 2014 at 10:29 PM

      Since Soriano is on my fantasy team in 34 innings his WHIP is 0.82, yet many rag on him.

  22. Mrsb loves the Nats - Jul 2, 2014 at 10:26 PM

    Oh man… Oh woman… What. A. Game.

    Scored tickets late… So went to see the sweep… Sori made me have a heart attack or two… Or three… I stopped counting but they secured the win… And that was all that mattered.

    Got some tougher pitching coming up against the Cubs but Imma savor this sweep tonight and tomorrow…

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 2, 2014 at 10:33 PM

      I knew there was a reason you weren’t around. Great game to be at. Matzek is good. He made Bryce look so bad in that last AB. I hope Bryce is ok tomorrow. Bryce was so confident at the start of the game and even got that bloop double but Matzek had him swinging like an A Ball guy in that last at-bat.

      • David Proctor - Jul 2, 2014 at 10:55 PM

        It’s a little unfortunate that Bryce had to return to 3 straight LHP. He held his own though. 3 hits and some hard hit outs. Hoping for better success against the righties.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 2, 2014 at 11:05 PM

        He did the entire series until that last AB. Matzek was nasty on LaRoche. The Rookie made LaRoche look the worst I’ve seen him look all season vs a lefty.

  23. NatsLady - Jul 2, 2014 at 10:53 PM

    This is curious.

    Washington RHP Tanner Roark (7-5, 2.98) will face Cubs RHP Jason Hammel, who is also 7-5 with a 2.98 ERA.

    • manassasnatsfan - Jul 2, 2014 at 11:10 PM

      Get it to the bullpen, where we tear them apart.

  24. dcwx61 - Jul 3, 2014 at 12:51 AM

    Just getting back in from the ball park for our weather guys outing. Humid\as heck and no breeze where we were sitting. The heat just drains you by sitting in it.. We weather folk were sure the game would be delayed as a nice line of storms developed east of the mountains in the late afternoon. Of course, we were wrong. ,The rain started up after the game and the fireworks. Fans were on their feet for all of the Soriano ninth as hope sprang eternal with the last strike and a damper on the post game activities was avoided. Stadium let out a lot of air after the McHenry hr but was rejunivated with the Werth hr like a rain storrn on a hot summer day (but we didn’t get the latter). It was pretty clear that the ball Desmond hit was a homer esp. given the bounce, but the stadium was biased even though there were several Rockie shirts dangling around waiting to pull a rabbit out of this hat of a ball game. Good game, horrible humidity.
    Note to Nats, install those vapor sprayers all around the park, give out free water when heat index is over 105 like it was today, have more staff at the ice cream stations, and keep the bars and restaurants around the park open past 9:30 pm when the team is playing…. there is no flexibility in the beaurocratic wonder land that is DC, unless you fill out several waiver forms in triplicate.
    G(YFNG.

  25. rabbit433 - Jul 3, 2014 at 7:18 AM

    This time, the results will be different from last Friday’s game!

  26. Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 3, 2014 at 7:50 AM

    The Cubs just scored 16 runs last night so their offense came alive in a big way. The Nats get to face their #1, 2, and 3 starter and not necessarily in that order. Arrietta has been one of the hottest pitcher in the NL and has a 1.81 ERA and flirted with a no-no in his last start. The Nats already know how good Hammel and Samardija are.

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