When the Pittsburgh Pirates rolled into town, they were in 1st place in the NL Central and on a 5-game winning streak. The Nationals not only halted their streak but also pushed them out of 1st place while it is the Nationals who now have a 5 game winning streak. The Nationals won this nailbiter that was scoreless through the 5th inning on the arm of Jeremy Hellickson who went 5 2/3 of scoreless baseball. In fact, the Nationals defeated the Pirates hottest pitcher and clobbered two home runs in the 6th inning for all of their scoring. It was Trea Turner‘s two-run home run that opened the scoring and later in the inning Ryan Zimmerman added a solo shot.
While the Nats gave up no earned runs in this game, Ryan Madson was not sharp and was pulled with one out and Sean Doolittle got the 5-out save which is always risky for a reliever who is not used to that routine. In Madson’s defense, he got the tailor-made doubleplay ball that was booted by Howie Kendrick leading to the Pirates only run of the game.
The Nats only scrapped together 4 hits and the Pirates had 5 hits. They say it is the timing and types of hits that matter most and that was the case with Trea Turner connecting on a roped home run into the left field seats for the game winner.
For the relievers, Sammy Solis pitched in the 6th inning to get the win. Kintzler and Madson were credited with holds and Doolittle for the save.
With this win, the Nationals have worked their way back to the .500 mark.
“We are on a roll,” Ryan Zimmerman said. “It’s going to be fun.”
Zimmerman made good contact today and was finally rewarded with a hit that was a home run in that 6th inning. Some would say Wilmer Difo was the offensive star of the game as he only got up to bat 3 times and had a clutch hit and 2 walks.
“‘You wanna miss a guy?’”, Dave Martinez said to Ryan Zimmerman regarding fielders getting to his balls in play. “[The solution is] hit it over the fence.”
That is the truth for Zimmerman who is batting under .200 and the stats say he has been batting into bad luck. Well luck evens out because on Monday it was Zim who was sawed-off and blooped an RBI single into rightfield. Keep making contact and the hits will come.
With this win, the Nationals made some history of their own by having a 4-game and 5-game losing streak and then matching those with equal winning streaks in the first 32 games of the season. Those streaks made up 18 games of those 32 games leaving the rest just a mish-mosh to get to their 16-16 record. It’s like a reset starting all over at 0-0 again, but the Nats have work to do in the NL East.
Clearly, the Nationals need to continue the momentum with their first series of the season against the NL East’s 3rd place team. The Phillies come to town just two games in front of the Nationals. There has already been a major shift in the NL East hierarchy as the Braves swept their series this week with the Mets and took over first place. With this Nationals 5-game winning streak, the Nationals are back in the thick of this early season chase.