April 15-April 17: Nats Take Series over Marlins 

Going into their first extended road trip of the season and second divisional matchup against the Miami Marlins, the Nationals hoped to wipe the taste of a sweep by the extremely hot Atlanta Braves out of their mouths.

In the first game of the series, Jordan Zimmermann pitched the team’s first complete game of the season, infielder Ryan Zimmerman hit his fourth homerun of the season with four RBIs, and second-year star Tyler Moore added his first three RBIs of the season in a 10-3 victory. Jordan Zimmermann was outstanding, giving up six hits with six strikeouts and only one walk.

Zimmerman’s performance underlined a key goal for the Nationals this season, who have worked to get their starting pitchers deeper into games and avoid exhausting their bullpen.

In the second game of the series, pitcher Dan Haren continued his early season struggle with another awful start. Things started well over three shutout innings but Ryan Zimmerman’s fourth throwing error of the season in the fourth inning was followed by the Marlins’ Adeiny Hechavarria hitting a 3-run homerun that rattled Haren and lead the way to a 8-2 win for the Marlins.

In the rubber match, Ross Detweiler showed why he has been the best pitcher on Nationals staff with his third consecutive quality start, but his first victory of the season. In the 6-1 win, flu-ridden left-fielder Bryce Harper went 4-for-5 and catcher Kurt Suzuki continued to hit the ball with authority while taking over the full-time catching duties with Wilson Ramos on the disabled list.

April 19-April 20: Nats Split to Start Series with Mets

After a much-needed day off on April 18, the Nats traveled to the Big Apple to battle the New York Mets at CitiField, where Washington has unexpectedly won seven consecutive games as the road team.

The first game featured two of baseball’s top hurlers in a much-anticipated duel between Stephen Strasburg and Mets rookie pitcher Matt Harvey. Harvey lived up to all the hype, allowing just one run in seven innings. He put on a masterful performance with a plethora of high-rising fastballs at precise locations. Strasburg wasn’t awful but gave up four runs, two unearned, in only six innings as the Nats fell, 7-1.

A nationally-televised game on April 20 saw Bryce Harper hit two tape-measure homeruns, the second a solo blast in the eighth inning, which served as the winning run as the Nats took a 7-6 victory.

Starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez cruised through three innings, but gave up three walks and four runs in the fourth inning. A three-run shot by third baseman Adam LaRoche gave the Nats the lead and Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano held on out of the bullpen for the victory.

Player of the Week:
Despite missing a game with the flu, Harper still managed seven hits, two homeruns and four RBIs while raising his batting average to a robust .371 percent.

Next Week:
The Nats return home for a three-game series against the team who defeated them in the National League Divisional Series last season, the St Louis Cardinals, before facing the Cincinnati Reds in a four-game set.

Dion Johnson

Special to the AFRO