The Nationals won this series as Tanner Roark held on to get this game into the bullpen with a lead. Harper, Rendon and Soto led the Nats offense today as the Nats won 6-4. In the Rookie of the Year race, Juan Soto had two hits with an RBI while Ronald Acuna Jr. was 0-5 in the game. Meanwhile, Sean Doolittle made quick work in the 9th inning for the save as the Nats now fly to Miami for a quick 2-game series before a 4-game series against the Mets.
The Braves made it interesting in the 6th inning and chased Roark at 5 1/3 innings with 2-runners on the corners and a combination of Tim Collins and Wander Suero shut them down preserving the 5-2 Nats lead. The bullpen added some drama in the 8th inning with Atlanta pulling within a run after Charlie Culberson smashed a 2-run homer. Soto answered back with an RBI single which was the final run of the game giving Doolittle some extra breathing room.
“Getting through the sixth inning has been tough this year,” manager Dave Martinez said. “When Tim Collins is available and Wander Suero’s available, that’s a great combination. They both came in and did their job, and that was the key moments of the game.”
The Nationals have been on a run the last week, and after September 5th, the only starter who has taken a loss was Max Scherzer on Friday. Since the August 27th series against the Phillies, the Nationals have won two series against the Phillies and this one against the Braves. The Nationals took 2-of-4 games against the Cubs who have the best record in the Nationals League. In the second half of the season, Bryce Harper leads the Majors in on-base percentage and the player right behind Harper is a teenager named Juan Soto. With the Nationals playing well lately, you have to ask — where was this the will to win in June, July and August? The Braves are on pace based on their second half record to only win 89 games which leads to — what if?
“We’ve got a great lineup,” Bryce Harper said. “If you go out there and roll the guys out there we have, you have a chance to win every single night. Not shocked when we go 4-2 on this road trip.”
Harper is now 3 RBIs of reaching 100 on the season which was one of his stated goals. In fact, this is Harper’s third best season statistically of his career if he finishes close to the level he is at now, and some of his stats could be the best of his career. He will have many more chances in the final dozen games of the season to add to his totals. With the trip to Miami, the Nationals have a good chance to take over second place as only 1-game separates the Phillies and Nationals in the standings. The Braves were on a 6-game winning streak until the Nationals put a halt to that yesterday.
“I feel like we should’ve been doing this all year,” Anthony Rendon said. “So that’s maybe what we could take from it. We’ve had a lot of injuries, and like you guys said, a lot of ups and downs. But we’re going to just keep on truckin’ til the end, until they tell us to go home.”
It was a good day to see the veterans come up big as Harper and Rendon each had two-run home runs and Ryan Zimmerman had a RISP hit. On Thursday, this threesome had the big combined 0-fer against the Cubs so it was good to see them carry a big part of the offense today against the Braves and once again remind the team from Atlanta that the Washington Nationals are not going away easily.
The Nats are done.
— David O'Brien (@DOBrienATL) September 16, 2018
Like the Braves TV and radio crews, their beat writer Dave O’Brien took several shots at the Nationals this weekend while also declaring this morning that the NL East race is over between the Braves and Nationals.