Aug 24, 2014, 5:25 PM EST
GAME IN A NUTSHELL: With the way this recent homestand has transpired for the Nationals, it’s tough to count them out no matter the hole they find themselves in. It seems day after day a Nats’ opponent has earned a lead early in a game before watching it slip away slowly but surely.
On Sunday, the Nationals began the afternoon down 5-0 to the Giants before chipping away with two runs in the fourth inning. They then caught fire in the sixth, putting up six runs to take an 8-6 lead. They would then add six more in the seventh and eighth innings to secure a 14-6 blowout win over San Francisco.
The Nationals won this one despite one of Stephen Strasburg’s worst starts of the season and despite a sharp beginning to the day by Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong. Vogelsong held the Nats hitless through three innings before coughing up a double to Jayson Werth in the fourth.
Once their lead was established, the Nationals bullpen did its job. Craig Stammen pitched two innings and gave up one run. Drew Storen pitched a perfect seventh inning. Tyler Clippard threw a scoreless eighth. Rafael Soriano added a perfect ninth.
The win pushed the Nats to 75-54 on the year and closed their homestand on a positive note, right before a nine-game road trip. They are also now 5-2 this year against the Giants, current holders of an NL Wild Card spot.
HITTING HIGHLIGHT: The sixth inning was a good one for the Nationals’ offense, in fact, it was one of the best in team history. The Nats pushed six runs across on eight hits (tying a team record). It began with Vogelsong on the mound with a four-run lead, who was removed after a one-out solo homer by Ian Desmond. Reliever Jeremy Affeldt then gave up RBI hits to Asdrubal Cabrera and Jose Lobaton, as well as a run to Bryce Harper on a wild pitch.
Right-hander Jean Machi took over and allowed another run on a Jayson Werth single that was charged to Affeldt. He also gave up an RBI single to Adam LaRoche for the sixth run. The Nats entered the frame down 6-2 and came away with an 8-6 lead. Not a good showing from the Giants’ bullpen who essentially collapsed after what was otherwise a solid day from their starter.
PITCHING LOWLIGHT: As we’ve seen far too often this season, Strasburg again found himself in trouble early in a game. On this particular day he would allow five runs in the first three innings, the first and second coming on leadoff solo home runs.
Strasburg’s numbers by inning this season are quite telling. In innings one through three this year, he has a 4.18 ERA (39 ER in 84 IP) with 13 home runs allowed. From the fourth inning on, he has a 3.05 ERA (31 ER in 91.1 IP) and eight homers.
Strasburg’s day started poorly with Gregory Blanco’s leadoff home run. Blanco worked a full count before taking advantage of a fastball that ran over the middle of the plate.
Strasburg now has a 3.59 ERA on the season through 28 starts. He has surrendered four earned runs or more eight times this season, or 29 percent of his outings.
KEY STAT: Though Strasburg was bad on Sunday, he did get to 201 strikeouts on the season. He is only the second Nationals player ever to reach that mark, joining Gio Gonzalez who did it in 2012.
UP NEXT: The Nationals head to Philly for the first leg of a nine-game road trip. Tanner Roark (12-7, 2.80) will face off against veteran A.J. Burnett (6-14, 4.42). The road trip begins in Philadelphia with Seattle and Los Angeles to follow.
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)...
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