Thursday, June 2, 2011

How the Nats beat good pitchers

While the Nats have struggled as a whole this season, they have defeated more than a few star pitchers, including Tim Lincecum, Cliff Lee, Yovani Gallardo, Tim Hudson, Matt Cain, Roy Oswalt, Madison Bumgarner and Tommy Hanson...and those are just the guys who got an actual "L." They haven't gotten cheated on the scoreboard either, scoring 43 runs in these 9 games (4.78 runs per game). Here's a look at how each pitcher was defeated.

April 2: Nats 6 Braves 3
Tommy Hanson did not even make it out of the 4th, as the Nationals brushed him up for 4 runs on 5 hits, with 2 walks and only 1 strikeout. Jayson Werth tagged him for two doubles and Rick Ankiel launched a 2 run homer in the 3rd to help push Hanson to the brink. John Lannan wasn't perfect, but only allowed 1 run on 5 hits through 5 innings. The recipe for success in this game was getting runs early, chasing the starting pitcher and responding every time the Braves scored.

April 17: Nats 8 Brewers 4
It took the Nats four innings to get warmed up, but they came back from a 2-0 deficit to score 7 runs on Yovani Gallardo in 5 and 1/3 innings. While 6 of the runs came on 3-run homers by Danny Espinosa and Pudge Rodriguez, the Nats' bats did not exactly get cheated, with 10 hits off of the big righty, forcing him to throw 107 pitches before being yanked. The Nats won this one by the long-ball, adding to the total with a solo homer by Ian Desmond in the 8th.

April 29: Nats 3 Giants 0
Thank Laynce Nix and Jason Marquis for beating Tim Linecum; Nix went 2/3 with a 2 run homer in the 2nd inning, which provided Marquis all the support he needed, as he went along to throw a 5 hit, 0 walk shutout. Marquis also contributed an RBI single that scored Desmond, who also deserves mention for going 3 for 3 off of the Freak. The Nats beat the Giants this time on one long-ball and solid pitching.

May 1: Nats 5 Giants 2
Jordan Zimmermann rebounded from Nate Schierholtz's 2 run double in the 2nd with 4 scoreless innings while receiving help from the rest of the team. Only Werth (3 for 4) and Adam LaRoche (0 for 2 with 2 BB's) started and failed to score or drive in a run, but neither had an awful day. This was a team win through and through, with contributions from the starting pitcher, the relievers, the starting lineup and the bench.

May 2: Nats 2 Giants 0
I'd feel bad for fans of the Giants, as their offense is horrendous, but they won the World Series last year...not happening. This time around, Tom Gorzelanny threw 8 innings and only gave up 3 hits while Jerry Hairston and Michael Morse each provided a 2 out RBI to beat young star Madison Bumgarner and give the Nats the Curly W.

May 10: Nats 7 Braves 6
The Nats won this game by capitalizing on mistakes, scoring 4 unearned runs (along with 3 earned runs) off of Tim Hudson. Werth and Nix both contributed 3-run homers and the Nats narrowly avoided having Marquis, Sean Burnett and Tyler Clippard blow a 7-1 lead in the 8th.

May 31: Nats 10 Phillies 2
There is nothing on Earth that brings me more joy than blowing out teams from Pennsylvania. Cliff Lee gave up 6 runs on 7 hits in 5 and 1/3 innings, including two Espinosa homers. Morse went 3 for 5 with a double, two runs and two RBI while Marquis lasted through 6 and 1/3 innings, only allowing 2 runs and scoring one himself on the basepaths.

June 1: Nats 2 Phillies 1
Lannan and Roy Oswalt gave up a combined 3 runs, but neither made it past the 5th inning. Despite a million balls in play hit by the Phillies (only 2 K's by Nats pitchers) and limited offensive chances, the Nats pulled this one out due to Nix's homer and fantastic catch.

The Nats hit well in most of the games against these great pitchers, but another common denominator was their own great starting pitching. Wins against guys like Linecum and Lee are good confidence-boosters so it obviously bodes well for Washington to keep scoring Curly W's against elite competition.

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