Dusty wanted 20 games over .500; He got it today!

Three game sweeps are never easy, and the Washington Nationals pulled off the rare four game sweep on the Cincinnati Reds with exceptional starting pitching and a constant barrage of offense scoring 35 runs in this series.

The Washington Nationals starting pitchers in this 4-game series in Cincinnati gave up a total of 1-earned run over 27 1/3 innings. The Nationals offense combined for a power packed 13 home runs in this series, and Ryan Zimmerman‘s home run today was 235th in his Nationals’ career eclipsing Vladimir Guerrero for the most in franchise history when you factor in the Montreal Expos. Next up on the list for Zimmerman is the Washington, D.C. record of 237 home runs by Frank  “Hondo” Howard of the Washington Senators.

The Nationals improved their record to 56-36 which is the 20 games over .500 that Dusty Baker wanted at the All-Star break.  Stephen Strasburg was very good in the game and threw 105 pitches of 1-run baseball over 7.0 innings. The bullpen gave-up nothing as both Joe Blanton and Matt Grace made easy work of the 8th and 9th innings respectively.

“It shows what kind of shape Stras is in because he sweats a lot and he’s usually not real, real good when it’s hot,” Dusty Baker said. “So you can tell he’s really been working and training to deal with this heat. He was very good today.”

This 6-1 win was a low scoring game compared to the last 2 games of this 4-game series, and the Nationals offense was led by Ryan Zimmerman who went 3-for-5 with a home run and 2 singles. It was Zimmerman’s first home run in over a month, and hopefully this gives him some confidence heading into the west coast trip. After the game, Zim kind of confessed how he has been feeling during his month-long homer-less drought. The season is a grind as Zimmerman has often said where you aren’t 100% and the long season takes its toll.

“The last couple of weeks have been a grind, and I haven’t really felt great,” Ryan Zimmerman said. “Yesterday [a scheduled day-off], I started to feel better and today I felt good. I still feel not like I’ve felt a month or so ago, but that’s part of the season and that’s why we play 162 games and you have to find a way to make it through those week or twos when you don’t feel that great.”

Daniel Murphy had his worst game of his Nats’ career with an 0-fer that included 3 strikeouts. While Murphy struggled, many other Nationals players picked him up as teammates do and had big days at the plate including Bryce Harper who had a 3-run home run to start the scoring in the 5-run first inning when the Nationals batted all nine players. 

With this game completed in just under 3 hours, the Nationals will head out to Los Angeles now and should arrive before 7pm local time in California and meet-up with new teammates Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson and old teammate Edwin Jackson.

During the game, we learned that Anthony Rendon was named the N.L. Player of the Week.


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