Nats win! Nats win! Phillies eliminated. The Nats Magic # is 2

Photo from Nationals Instagram

The Nationals just officially ended the Phillies season while turning a scary bases loaded jam in the first inning into the Phillies only threat of the game. In fact the Nats shutout the Phillies in the final eight inning of which the bullpen pitched a 5.0 inning perfect game in relief of “spot” starter Joe Ross. With a final score of 4-1, this win ratcheted the Nats “Magic” number to 2. 

If the Nationals win tonight in Game 2 of their doubleheader and the Cubs lose to the Pirates, the Nationals would clinch tonight. That is a lot of “ifs” but the Nats could clinch in this series if the Nats can win two more games.

“It’s nice to win so let’s just keep on winning,” manager Dave Martinez said. “Just got to keep finishing games and keep moving forward.”

In the “bend but don’t break” mentality, Joe Ross made his first start in 22 days after he strained his forearm. It is still an unknown how Ross was getting in his side work which is always part of the mystery with this Nationals team since Ross never left the team to go on assignment at the Nationals facility in West Palm Beach. Ross struggled in the first inning as he loaded the bases, and it looked ready to unravel then Ross found his slider and after giving up a run in that first inning he grinded out a 4.0 inning start and exited in a 1-1 game. In his eight starts this season, Ross put up an impressive ERA of 3.26 which is in sharp contrast to his reliever’s ERA of 11.17.

Out of the bullpen, Erick Fedde, Tanner Rainey, Fernando Rodney, Sean Doolittle and Daniel Hudson combined for 5.0 innings of a perfect game. No runners reached base, and Rainey earned the win with Rodney and Doolittle with the holds and Hudson with the save.

The Nats offense was non-existent for the first three inning, but in the fourth inning Trea Turner got it going and tied the game on one of his two runs scoring via Anthony Rendon sacrifice flies. Rendon now has 124 RBIs and he has plated Turner thirty-six times. Turner went 3-4 in the game of which the Nats only had 7 hits but they also had four key walks. Juan Soto‘s hitless streak is up to six games, unfortunately, he tacked on another game. Also troubling the team was horrific again in bases loaded spots, and 1-9 in RISP spots except for Ryan Zimmerman who hit an oppo single to drive in a run.

Maybe there is some poetic justice and irony that Bryce Harper will miss the postseason for his new team after he exited D.C. where he pledged his love while he was a Nats player, and in his first interview as a Phillies player, he had a “Freudian Slip” and he said, “We want to bring a title back to D.C.”  Yes, he said that, and the Phillies sure have helped because the Nationals have beaten the Phillies 11 times now in 16 games this season. Today, it was the Nats who sent the Phillies packing.

“It’s a winning city,” Harper said when he signed with the Phillies. “It’s an amazing city. It’s something I want to be a part of, and be a part of for a very long time.’’

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