The Nationals needed some run support behind Stephen Strasburg and they got just that in the top of the 8th inning with four consecutive solo home runs to take the game from a 1-1 deadlock to a 5-1 lead and the win. The final score was 5-2 and manager Dave Martinez got to rest his “A” bullpen in this one. The 1-1 tie in the 8th inning was broken by a pinch-hit home run from Howie Kendrick off of former Nats’ reliever Craig Stammen that put a spark in this Nats team that was quiet after the first inning when they scored a run without the benefit of a hit. Stammen would give up all four of those home runs amidst boos from his home crowd. This win got the Nats back to a good ending to this series that had some heartbreak in the first two games of this four game series against the Padres. The Nats get on their charter jet after winning two games in a row.
This game which started Strasburg’s tenth year of MLB service, after his debut on June 8th of 2010, was a masterful one-run appearance which as easily could have been a no run appearance. Strasburg’s final line was 1 R, 6 H, 0 BB, 6 K on 104 pitches of which 72 were strikes. Strasburg pitched better than his final line as he had to pitch around a misread by Juan Soto and an error by Anthony Rendon. Strasburg picked up his fielders once again as he turned a doubleplay with runners on the corners with one out.
The bullpen did their job today with Kyle Barraclough who pitched a perfect 8th inning and Javy Guerra closed out the game for the bullpen. The Nats needed to rest Wander Suero, Tanner Rainey, and Sean Doolittle and they did.
“I liked the first [home run] for sure because it put us ahead,” Martinez said. “Then it was wow, Wow, and WOW! I was happy for Strasburg because he pitched an unbelievable game.”
The offensive star of the game was Howie Kendrick who lit the fire for the Nats but kudos to Trea Turner who had a double and a home run in the game and he scored the first run because he ran hard on a harmless pop-up behind second base that was dropped by Ian Kinsler. The Nats then played some small ball as Turner was moved to third base after a productive out by Adam Eaton and Turner scored on a groundout by Anthony Rendon. The Nats scored that first run without the benefit of a hit. The first hit by the Nats came on a bunt against the shift by Matt Adams, but the team struggled to get any offense going until Kendrick’s pinch-hit home run.
“[Howie] comes off of the bench and puts us ahead in that moment,” Martinez said. “Everybody was obviously excited so, yah you feed off of those types of things. He’s been doing all year. Wanted to give him a day-off today and use him as a pinch-hitter, and you saw what he can do when his legs are fresh.”
That four consecutive home run onslaught set a record for the Nationals who have done that twice in their history with the last time two years ago against the Brewers. Those home runs were delivered by Brian Goodwin, Wilmer Difo, Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman. All of those home runs came off of Michael Blazek who happens to be pitching for the Nationals Triple-A affiliate in Fresno, but the four players who hit those home runs are not currently on the Nats active roster. There have only been 9 times in baseball history that a team has hit four consecutive home runs so a rare feat.
This Nationals road trip has two more games in another city as they head to Chicago for two more against the White Sox.