Aug 19, 2014, 9:58 PM EDT
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.
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
NL POSTSEASON SCHEDULE
WED: Giants at Pirates, 8:07 p.m. (ESPN)
FRI: Game 1, Pirates at Nats, 12:07 p.m.,
OR Giants at Nats, 3:07 p.m. (FS1)
SAT: Game 2, PIT/SF at Nats, 5:37 p.m. (FS1)
MON: Game 3, Nats at PIT/SF, TBA (MLBN)
OCT. 7: Game 4, Nats at PIT/SF, TBA (FS1)*
OCT. 9: Game 5, PIT/SF at Nats, TBA (FS1)*
ON THE RADIO
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.
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