The Washington Nationals may currently be the hottest team in Major League Baseball, coming off a five-game win streak Aug. 12-16. The Nationals swept the Mets in a three-game road series in New York, then beat the Pittsburgh Pirates in two straight games at home in D.C. over the weekend. Washington now leads the National League East division by a six-game margin with a 68-53 record, as of Aug. 16.
Aug. 12 – 14: Nationals Sweep Mets to Spark Winning Streak
The win streak started with a dominant 7-1 win over the Mets in Game One of a three game series on Aug. 12. Starting pitcher Doug Fister was outstanding, giving up seven hits but no runs through seven innings of action. Relief pitcher Ross Detwiler pitched the final two innings and gave up a run in the eighth inning, but that was not enough to erase the damage already done by Washington’s offense. Four different batters went the yard with home runs for the Nationals, including Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, Ian Desmond, and Michael Taylor.
The following night, Game Two of the series was much tighter as Washington beat the Mets, 3-2. The pitching was just as strong, however, this time with Jordan Zimmermann getting the start. Zimmermann lasted into the seventh inning, giving up just five hits and one run. Asdrubal Cabrera hit a home run in the eighth inning to give the Nationals a late 3-1 lead. New York still had a chance at a comeback when Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud hit a solo home run in the ninth inning off Nationals relief pitcher Rafael Soriano. But Soriano made up for the blunder, eventually retiring all batters for his 27th save of the season.
Washington continued its impressive pitching as they swept the Mets with a 4-1 win in Game Three of the series on Aug. 14. Stephen Strasburg pitched seven full innings with eight strikeouts and only three hits and one run allowed while on the mound. Soriano eventually closed out the game for his 28th save of the season. The Nationals, however, were not stellar on offense. The team had just five hits but were able to score four runs off a couple of two-run homers hit by Harper and baseman Adam LaRoche.
Aug. 15-16: Nationals Keep Streak Going against Pirates
Washington found itself in a dogfight with the Pirates in Game One of a three game series on Aug. 15, but pulled it out with 5-4 score to keep their win streak intact. Starting pitcher Tanner Roak gave up three runs in the fourth inning and Soriano gave up a late run in the ninth inning. But the Nationals still were able to edge the Pirates with its five runs scored. LaRoche and Harper both recorded two RBI.
The Nationals closed out the week with another nail-biter in Game Two of the series on Saturday night, beating the Pirates, 4-3. LaRoche crushed a home run in the eighth inning to tie the score at 3. Catcher Wilson Ramos then hit a walk-off double in the bottom of the ninth inning to give Washington its fifth straight victory. Gio Gonzalez got the start at pitcher for the Nationals but gave up three runs in the third inning and was replaced after five innings. Relief pitcher Matt Thorton was awarded the win after closing out the ninth inning with two strikeouts and zero runs and zero hits allowed.
Next-up: The Nationals will close out its series with the Pirates on Sunday before hosting the Arizona Diamondbacks in a four-game home series on Aug. 18-21. Washington will then welcome the San Francisco Giants to town for a three-game home series on Aug. 22-24.