April 8-10: Nats Sweep Marlins 3-0

This past week went a lot like opening week for the Washington Nationals as they started off with a series sweep over the Miami Marlins. Washington shutout Miami, 5-0, in Game One of the series on April 8. Rotation pitcher Gio Gonzalez had another outstanding performance, allowing just three hits and zero runs in six innings pitched. Gonzalez’ record as a starter is now 2-0 so far. Anthony Rendon was hot from the plate with three RBI along with two runs scored. Adam LaRoche also scored two runs.

Game Two of the series wasn’t a shutout but the Nationals still won, 10-7, April 9. Washington had to comeback from trailing by five runs to win the game, but they pulled it off thanks to a grand slam by Jayson Werth. Bryce Harper also nailed his first home run of the season. Jordan Zimmermann started the game at pitcher but lasted less than two innings before he was pulled from the mound. Zimmermann gave up seven hits and five runs in just 1.2 innings pitched. Washington went through five more pitchers in the bullpen before Rafael Soriano sealed the deal with a save in the ninth inning.

Washington completed the series sweep on April 10 with a 7-1 win over the Marlins in Game Three of the series. Rotation pitcher Stephen Strasburg showed why he was once considered the next great pitcher by throwing 12 strikeouts with just three hits and one earned run allowed in 6.2 innings pitched. Werth hit another home run and Ian Desmond also had a home run.

April 11-12: Atlanta Continues to Haunt Nationals

As they did the season’s opening week, Washington’s series sweep was followed by a series loss to the Atlanta Braves. In Game One of the series on April 11, the Nationals lost, 7-6, ending their win streak. Justin Upton hit a game-tying home run for Atlanta in the eight inning, then came back to hit a single in the 10th inning that provided the game-winning score for the Braves. Rotation pitcher Tanner Roak struggled for Washington, allowing five hits and five earned runs in just four innings pitched.

The pitching woes continued for the Nationals in Game Two of the series as they lost, 6-3, on April 12. Rotation pitcher Taylor Jordan gave up 10 hits and five earned runs in five innings pitched. The poor start to the game gave Atlanta an early 4-1 lead after the first inning and Washington was unable to climb out of the deficit.

Nationals Player(s) of the Week: Gio Gonzalez and Jayson Werth
Gonzalez has easily been the Nationals best pitcher so far into the short season. He now has a 2-0 starting record for the year after pitching six shutout innings on April 8. As for batting, no one has been more consistent than Werth, who recorded seven hits, seven RBI, two home runs and six runs scored throughout the past week.

Analysis:The Washington Nationals (7-4 record) have won enough games to rank among the top teams in the National League. But their struggles against the Atlanta Braves continue to haunt them. With four losses to Atlanta already this season, the Braves now hold the tie-breaker for the top spot in the National League East division.

There is still a ton of baseball left so the divisional standings don’t mean much right now. But if Washington doesn’t find a way to overcome the Atlanta Achilles heel in the future, these early season losses may come back to curse the Nationals.

Next-up: After completing their three game series with Atlanta on April 13, the Nationals take on the Miami Marlins again in another three-game away series on April 14-16. Washington will then return home to face the St. Louis Cardinals in a four-game series on April 17-20.


Perry Green

AFRO Sports Editor