The Washington Nationals started their second half of the season with a nifty 4-0 win behind the arm of Stephen Strasburg and some small ball by his teammates. The Nationals home run streak ended tonight, and who cares as Victor Robles showed you can get two RBIs on a single. Strasburg also received some nifty defense behind him with Juan Soto robbing extra bases at the top of the wall, and Brian Dozier flashed the leather too. Fernando Rodney had to face the meat of the Phillies order in the eighth inning in a 3-0 game, and he responded with some big pitches to get Harper and Jay Bruce on an inning ending doubleplay.
“We got enough points on [Pivetta] to get the lead,” manager Dave Martinez said. “I love it the way they came out and played. I saw it in the clubhouse earlier today. They were upbeat and ready to go. They were prepared to come out and play today.”
Throughout the game, Strasburg made some key pitches in his 6.0 innings and worked around some questionable umpiring to get six strikeouts while only allowing 7 baserunners that were all stranded. Strasburg’s shutout on 111 pitches lowered his ERA to 3.46 which has moved him to the top 30 pitchers in the Majors at number 21. Every Nats position player had a hit in this game except for Juan Soto, but he reached on a walk and had a key sacrifice fly in the ninth inning.
There was certainly some debate whether it was necessary to pitch Sean Doolittle with a 4-run lead while facing the bottom of the Phillies order, and that is what manager Dave Martinez decided to do. Doolittle looked great and hit 94 mph on the radar gun with a fresh arm after returning from the All-Star break. Tanner Rainey, Matt Grace, and Javy Guerra all warmed up in the game and were not used. Wander Suero had a slick seventh inning with two strikeouts and did not allow a runner to reach base.
“I’m going to be honest with you — I think having Rodney down there has helped [Suero],” Martinez said. “Those guys have gotten along since Rodney has been here. He’s talked to him and kind of took him under his wing. I told Suero he is a really good guy to watch.”
With this win, the Nationals moved 6.0 games over .500 with a 29-11 record since May 24th. By beating the Phillies, the Nationals moved 1 1/2 games past them in the NL East as both teams hope the Padres can beat the Braves tonight.