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Instant analysis: Nats 8, Diamondbacks 1

Aug 19, 2014, 9:58 PM EDT

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GAME IN A NUTSHELL: As much as they enjoyed their wild victories over the last few nights, the Nationals knew their bullpen had been taxed to extreme levels after back-to-back, extra-inning games. So the goal tonight against the Diamondbacks was simple: Try to take a sizable lead and get a bunch of innings out of Stephen Strasburg. In that respect, Matt Williams couldn’t have drawn this one up any better.

Strasburg went eight innings, allowing only a first-inning homer to David Peralta, before settling into a groove and dominating the rest of the way. And his teammates took down Arizona right-hander Chase Anderson with a 6-run third inning, getting big hits from Jayson Werth, Ian Desmond and Asdrubal Cabrera to open up the big lead Williams desired.

Thus, the Nationals’ eighth straight win came in convincing fashion, one of the best all-around performances this team has put forth all season. They’re now two wins away from matching the club record of 10 … and from forcing Williams to make good on his promise to do his Babe Ruth impersonation.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: Though he would probably be the first to say he’s not having as good a season as he’d like, Desmond hasn’t exactly been chump change at the plate in 2014. Most importantly, he’s making the most of the hits he gets, driving in runs in big spots. He was at it again tonight, going 3-for-4 with four RBI. That gives him 77 RBI for the season, with 38 games still to go. Only Giancarlo Stanton, Adrian Gonzalez and Justin Upton have driven in more runs in the NL. That’s fairly elite company, not to mention evidence of just how important Desmond is to the Nationals.

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: Talk about providing just what the doctor ordered. Strasburg got the job done in spades tonight. He did leave a first-inning fastball over the plate to Peralta, but after that was utterly dominant. He didn’t waste pitches, giving himself a chance to toss only the second complete game of his career. That didn’t happen, but only because Williams decided not to push Strasburg with such a big lead and his pitch count at 95. Meanwhile, for all the angst (much of it justified) over Strasburg, he now owns a 3.41 ERA and a 198-to-38 strikeout-to-walk ratio. That’s pretty darn good.

KEY STAT: Since his acquisition from the Indians on July 31, Asdrubal Cabrera is hitting .263 with a .348 on-base percentage and .404 slugging percentage.

UP NEXT: The Nationals will be seeking only the second 9-game winning streak in club history Wednesday night when the series continues. It’s Tanner Roark (12-7, 2.93) vs. Trevor Cahill (3-8, 4.68) at 7:05 p.m.

  1. Drew - Aug 19, 2014 at 9:59 PM

    Couldn’t have drawn it up any better. GYFNG!!!

  2. David Proctor - Aug 19, 2014 at 10:01 PM

    This might be the most impressive game of Strasburg’s career. No, he didn’t strike out a bunch of guys or dominate like that. But his team NEEDED him to go deep and he very easily could have went the whole way. He gave up a solo homer in the first, it didn’t rattle him.

    This could be a big step for him.

    • Eric - Aug 19, 2014 at 10:12 PM

      +1. The Braves game is staring to look like the anomoly of his recent outings. Marlins Park before that and Mets and tonight since are all fantastic.

      • Eric - Aug 19, 2014 at 10:37 PM

        Phillies, too.

  3. TimDz - Aug 19, 2014 at 10:03 PM

    This must be tough for the Barves to swallow…..
    Um, yeah….sucks to be them…..

  4. coollikelivo - Aug 19, 2014 at 10:04 PM

    Thankfully a low-leverage fan experience!

  5. Mrsb loves the Nats - Aug 19, 2014 at 10:04 PM

    Really liking this SS/Lobo combo…

    Fantastic job and effort by everyone…. Way to SS… Helped the BP…

  6. natsfan1a - Aug 19, 2014 at 10:08 PM

    Well done, Stephen. Well done, Nats.

  7. sjm308 - Aug 19, 2014 at 10:08 PM

    The hat will last another day.
    Certainly the longest streak since I started this silliness
    I remember the 10 game streak but was not doing the hat thing back then
    Did not see Wonk but we spent 3 innings trying to work out a 42 game plan downstairs
    Really not happy with the Lerners devaluing the 21 game plan holders

    Go Nats!

    • Soul Possession, Sec 3, My Sofa - Aug 19, 2014 at 10:33 PM

      Liking the hat. May have to give you a Cheech Wizard icon.

    • adcwonk - Aug 19, 2014 at 11:34 PM

      Was wondering where you were! We were in 308 (Mrs Wonk in trademark pink Nats hat) all nine innings

  8. coollikelivo - Aug 19, 2014 at 10:08 PM

    Lobaton just said that the one time Stras shook him off was the homer… Is that true?

    • coollikelivo - Aug 19, 2014 at 10:10 PM

      He didn’t seem ti be saying it any sort of critical way, though….

      • coollikelivo - Aug 19, 2014 at 10:23 PM

        Natsfan1a — Thanks for that clip, I laughed so hard even though I’ve seen it a million times! You’re the video master!

      • natsfan1a - Aug 20, 2014 at 7:34 AM

        I still can’t see the clip but I’m glad you could. Didn’t find a clip of the scene you mentioned, but I did find a sound bite.

        http://movie-sounds.org/sports-films-phrases/bull-durham-1988/what-are-you-doing-standing-here-i-gave-you-a-gift

        coollikelivo – Aug 19, 2014 at 10:23 PM

        Natsfan1a — Thanks for that clip, I laughed so hard even though I’ve seen it a million times! You’re the video master!

    • manassasnatsfan - Aug 19, 2014 at 10:11 PM

      Charlie and Dave said the same.

      Jose caught Strasburg vs. Mets last week. I see a pattern.

      • coollikelivo - Aug 19, 2014 at 10:13 PM

        A little Crash Davis????? Nah, of course not, but that’s a great scene fromBull Durham!

      • natsfan1a - Aug 19, 2014 at 10:18 PM

        Yes. Yes, it is.

      • natsfan1a - Aug 19, 2014 at 10:18 PM

        Oh, yeah. Link.

    • chrisrw109 - Aug 19, 2014 at 10:22 PM

      If it is true… I really wish lobaton hadn’t said anything.

      No need to show up your pitcher that way.

      • coollikelivo - Aug 19, 2014 at 10:58 PM

        But you left off the great end of the scene where the batter slow-trots around the bases and Crash screams at him about giving him a gift… If I knew how to post videos like you did I might try to find it….

  9. Eric - Aug 19, 2014 at 10:09 PM

    If we win tomorrow, 500 ball the rest of the way gets us 90 wins.

    Go Nats!!!

    • coollikelivo - Aug 19, 2014 at 10:10 PM

      But let’s aim higher of course!

      • Eric - Aug 19, 2014 at 10:13 PM

        AB. SO. LUTELY!

      • manassasnatsfan - Aug 19, 2014 at 10:13 PM

        I was thinking 46 game winning streak.

        But I always think high.

      • Eric - Aug 19, 2014 at 10:15 PM

        Please don’t take this as “I hope the Nats start to play 500 ball if they win tomorrow.”

        I just remember when people were saying “If we play at a 105 win pace, we’ll have 89 wins at the end of the season.”

        Amazing what a few hot weeks (July and now) will do for you.

      • Eric - Aug 19, 2014 at 10:42 PM

        Well played, sir! Ever so Sly.

  10. Faraz Shaikh - Aug 19, 2014 at 10:15 PM

    how much dugout box seats should cost? is $90-95 reasonable?
    nice win streak!

  11. veejh - Aug 19, 2014 at 10:17 PM

    Stras at home. Good. Otherwise….Hate to be that guy, after a start like that, but we really need him to do this away.

    • Eric - Aug 19, 2014 at 10:19 PM

      Didn’t he do very well in Miami recently?

    • rayvil01 - Aug 19, 2014 at 10:21 PM

      He was much better in NY last week. Wasn’t long ago we were saying the same thing about Roark.

      He’s learning how to pitch inside. It will change a lot of things. Hard to remember that he is still young and learning.

      • chrisrw109 - Aug 19, 2014 at 10:28 PM

        Placement is really key. Getting better placement and control of his fastball makes everything else so much more effective. .. which actually makes the fastball better.

        Tonight he had that placement as well as the run support. And command of the inside of the plate.

        Swinging strike 3s on high fastballs are nice, but jamming them inside and destroying a bat for a weak groundout doesn’t become a homer when you don’t fool them.

        Great game from Stras and should be duplicatable on his next start.

  12. natsfan1a - Aug 19, 2014 at 10:19 PM

    My link disappeared.

  13. chrisrw109 - Aug 19, 2014 at 10:19 PM

    Great game. No drama and good solid hitting. Harper was aggressive on the paths in the right way Strass was consistent and centered and the diamondbacks were the diamondbacks.

    Hopefully games like this will get EB of the sports junkies to shut up about how the team has gaping holes and only average pitching.

    There are things on the team that can be pointed at as weaker areas… NO MLB team is without them.

    But the Nationals have fewer weaknesses than almost any other club in majors, and they are starting to play with a bit of that swagger.

    Confidence. Concentration, and an unwillingness to concede even when they fall behind make this a dangerous group to play against.

    I just wish our local sports radio guys understood sports.

    • rayvil01 - Aug 19, 2014 at 10:24 PM

      The junkies? You actually go there for insight on baseball?

      • Drew - Aug 19, 2014 at 10:29 PM

        Pay them no mind.

        With apologies to Smokey Robinson: Ain’t too much sadder than the jeers of a clown.

    • adcwonk - Aug 19, 2014 at 11:40 PM

      WTF?!?!?

      Hopefully games like this will get EB of the sports junkies to shut up about how the team has gaping holes and only average pitching.

      We lead the whole d@mn league in ERA, how in the h3ll can anyone say the Nats have average pitching?

      St.Louis and Pittsburgh have average pitching. We have the best pitching in 2014.

  14. natsfan1a - Aug 19, 2014 at 10:20 PM

    They wouldn’t be sports radio guys if they did.

    • chrisrw109 - Aug 19, 2014 at 10:30 PM

      I dunno. There are some guys on 106.7 who are worth listening to. The junks used to be great. But now they are caricatures of themselves.

      Helped that lurch was on vacation as he is probably the only one of them that actually understands baseball.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 19, 2014 at 11:05 PM

        Junks are junk. Fantasy football show.

      • Joe Seamhead - Aug 20, 2014 at 5:42 AM

        Sorry, but if the junkies were the only thing that came out of my radio I’d never turn my radio on.

    • NatsNut - Aug 19, 2014 at 10:32 PM

      http://instantrimshot.com/

  15. Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 19, 2014 at 11:04 PM

    Fun game! Needed a laugher. Tell me why Strasburg in a 6-1 game with men on 3rd and 1st was he bunting with 1 out. Stras was a Silver Slugger

  16. Section 222 - Aug 19, 2014 at 11:15 PM

    Back from the game, and damn they if they didn’t go and do exactly what the doctor ordered!

    “Section 222 – Aug 19, 2014 at 12:21 PM
    Good and timely post. First step to bullpen recovery would be a Stras complete game tonight, or at least seven innings. Second step would be the bats busting out so that Blevins and Storen can take the baton after seven and bring it home with low stress. Det can go an inning or even two tonight if necessary.

    Much as I’d like to see a fourth straight walkoff, an easy win would be much better. Plus, I really want them to stomp the necks of the dirty playing D-Backs.”

    For tonight, anyway, I am the summoner.

    Oprah was out in the bullpen tonight before the game: “You get a rest, you get a rest, a rest for everyone in this pen.” Well, except for Blevins. Thank you Mr. Strasburg. Just for fun I’m going to go check the game post. What’s the over/under on how many commenters were ready to draw and quarter Stras after the Peralta homer?

  17. stoatva - Aug 19, 2014 at 11:16 PM

    Man. What a mess Cubs ground crew made of pulling tarp onto field. On purpose?

  18. Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 19, 2014 at 11:23 PM

    Talking about messes is this Reds team. They just blew a lead in the 8th. DeScalso with a pinch-hit double. I dislike that man.

  19. Doc - Aug 19, 2014 at 11:24 PM

    Stras pitched his Fister game—may there be many more like it!

    You can learn a lot from a 6’8″ guy with an 88 mph heater.

  20. NatsLady - Aug 19, 2014 at 11:33 PM

    If you haven’t seen the Williams Babe Ruth home run trot, here it is.

    http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2014/08/19/nationals-rout-diamondbacks-for-eighth-straight-win/

  21. npb99 - Aug 19, 2014 at 11:47 PM

    This last week has been fantastic. Everything is coming together.

    • coop202 - Aug 20, 2014 at 12:22 AM

      I actually think we have room to be much better – most notably the pen and zim coming back ;). But that’s nitpicking on a 8 game win streak

      • npb99 - Aug 20, 2014 at 12:28 AM

        Inevitably some players will get colder and others will heat up. But I wouldn’t sub out Rendon or Cabrera for RZim right now.

  22. NatsLady - Aug 20, 2014 at 12:25 AM

    The Nats have 38 games left. For them to win 90 games, they have to go 19-19. Atlanta has 36 games left. For them to win 90 games, they have to go 24-12 (.667).

    If the Nats happen to play at the same pace they’ve played since the All-Star Break (.645), they would go 24-14. That’s 95 wins. For Atlanta to win 95 they would have to go 29-7 (.805).

    • NatsLady - Aug 20, 2014 at 12:32 AM

      Last year the Cleveland Indians had a pancake schedule and went 21-6 in September (.778) including a 10-game streak to win out. They needed every one of those wins to get the chance to lose the Wild Card game to the Rays.

  23. water47 - Aug 20, 2014 at 10:25 AM

    So, a few things, my girls and I went to our second straight game last night. It was a great night and a great outcome. Monday night, we got there early and followed ALR’s car to the stadium. How did I know it was ALR’s car? How many Missouri License Plate trucks with a hunting logo pull into the Player’s lot. The girls were so excited! Add to that, they got to sit in their favorite seats last night (top Row Sec 406) and it has been fun. Going tomorrow with a buddy but I just might have to go today as well.

    So back to the team, nice to have ALR playing well. Cabrera is worth every nickel and more the Nats are paying him (BTW, Rizzo got him for Walters and in return is paying none of his salary). Finally, after steal a bases last night, Desi is only five bases from twenty for the year. That would make him 20/20 for the third straight year. Nice!

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