Rain Delayed Top 5:
5. Quick Recap: The Washington Nationals knocked Padres' starter Robbie Erlin around the only other time they faced him before tonight, scoring nine runs on six hits in four innings of work last July in the nation's capital and they got to the 23-year-old left-hander early tonight too, with Ian Desmond and Bryce Harper driving in runs with an RBI double and infield single, respectively, that got the Nats out to a 2-0 lead after one in the second game of four with San Diego.
Anthony Rendon singled and stole second to start the third inning, and after a walk by Adam LaRoche took third base when Ian Desmond hit a soft line drive to right to load the bases. Bryce Harper cleared them with a triple to right that bounced off the base of the out-of-town scoreboard and it was 5-0 Nats over the Padres in the third.
Jose Lobaton brought Harper in with a two-out RBI single to center and it was 6-0 Nationals by the time Robbie Erlin got out of the inning.
Denard Span and Jayson Werth singled one out apart in the home-half of the sixth, and the Nationals added to their lead when Adam LaRoche doubled to right field to bring Span in from second and knock Robbie Erlin out of the game. 7-0. Padres' rookie Kevin Quackenbush came on in relief, making his MLB debut, and another run scored on an RBI groundout by Ian Desmond that brought Werth in to make it 8-0 Nationals after six.
Jose Lobaton doubled to left to start the Nats' seventh and Zach Walters walked in a pinch hit appearance when he took over at the plate for Stephen Strasburg and both runners scored when Anthony Rendon lined a 2-2 fastball from Kevin Quackenbush to right for his career-high fourth hit in four at bats. 10-0 Nationals.
The Nationals loaded the bases in the eighth and added another run on when Jose Lobaton grounded into a force at at second. 11-1.
That's how it ended...
4. Chemistry: After the Nationals' ninth inning comeback against the Angels on Wednesday which featured a game-tying two-run double by Jayson Werth and a walk-off winner by Adam LaRoche, Werth talked to reporters about the teams's ability to keep coming back early this season. "I played on teams where it's just a feeling. You can't really explain it, but there's confidence there that you don't ever feel out," he said. "And I feel it on this team for sure."
First-year skipper Matt Williams was asked this afternoon if he thought there was good chemistry early this season on the 12-11 team that has managed to come back and win seven times in the first 23 games.
"I think there's phenomenal chemistry," he said. "I don't think we would have come back in games if there wasn't."
"I feel great about that and I think they feel great about that," Williams explained. "We don't believe we're out of a game. We've got guys all over the basepaths on any given night. Our starting pitching has had a little hiccup early, but has been really good ever since. Bullpen has been good. So, I think the chemistry is phenomenal."
Williams talked at length last night about continuing to create opportunities after the Nationals went 0 for 16 in the series opening loss to the Padres. Asked about the fact that they were 6 for 49 with runners in scoring position in the last five games, over which they were 2-3, the Nationals' Manager said he thought things would start going their way if they kept creating those chances.
"It will shake out," Williams said. "I'm happy with 49 opportunities. It comes and it goes in cycles. There are ebbs and flows and my concern is that we're continuing to create the opportunity to drive a run in. It will happen. I'm not concerned about that."
3. Strasburg vs San Diego: In his last two outings, against the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals, 25-year-old Nats' right-hander Stephen Strasburg has received no run support while he's been on the mound. The Nationals' '09 no.1 overall pick was knocked out after just four innings in Miami in a 11-2 loss to the Fish, but he bounced back last time out against the Cards, giving up five hits, a walk and two earned runs in six innings of work in which he struck out nine. Cardinals' starter Shelby Miller held the Nats off the board through 5 2/3 that day, but the Nationals got to the St. Louis' bullpen and came back to win it in the ninth.
Tonight in the nation's capital, the San Diego, California-born right-hander took on his hometown team for the fourth time in his major league career. In his previous three starts, Strasburg was (2-1) with a 4.50 ERA, seven walks (3.50 BB/9) and 18 Ks (9.00 K/9) in 18 innings pitched, over which he held Padres' hitters to a .243/.341/.414 line.
At home in Nationals Park, where he's earned 14 of his 30 career wins, Strasburg entered tonight's game with an ERA over a run lower that it is on the road (2.61 in 251 2/3 IP in D.C. to 3.69 in 209 2/3 outside of the nation's capital) a 2.52 FIP, 48 walks (1.72 BB/9) and 294 Ks (10.51 K/9) at home so far in his career.
1st: Padres' leadoff man Everth Cabrera took a 96 mph 1-2 fastball to left for an opposite field single in the first at bat of tonight's game, but he was doubled up on a grounder to second off Chris Denorfia's bat and Yonder Alonso flew to deep right field to end a 9-pitch first by Strasburg.
2nd: A 1-2 curve sent Jedd Gyorko back to the bench. Will Venable went down swinging at a 1-2 change. Nick Hundley didn't even come close to the 1-2 curve Strasburg dropped on him. Three up, three down in a 12-pitch, 1-2-3 inning that left Strasburg at 21 pitches total after two.
3rd: Xavier Nady grounded out to Ian Desmond at short on a 94 mph 3-1 heater. Jose Lobaton framed a 2-2 bender perfectly and home plate ump Jim Joyce punched Alex Amarista out for out no.2 of the 3rd and K no.4 for Strasburg. Robbie Erlin drew a two-out walk to get Everth Cabrera to the plate. Cabrera hit another opposite field single to left on a 94 mph 2-1 fastball, and Chris Denorfia singled to right in the next at bat to load the bases with two down. Strasburg was up to 26 pitches in the inning and 47 total on the night when Yonder Alonso stepped in, and flew out to short left to end a 31-pitch frame. 52 pitches overall.
4th: Jedd Gyorko K'd guessing on an 88 mph 1-2 change. Will Venable worked the count full before slicing a one-out single to short left field. Bryce Harper got a bad first step on a pop to right by Nick Hundley and had it drop in the grass in front of him for the second straight one-out hit. Xavier Nady K'd swinging at a 1-2 curve in the dirt in the next at bat, and Jose Lobaton popped up to get it and fired a strike to first to catch Will Venable in no man's land for an inning-ending double play. 17-pitch 4th for Strasburg. 69 overall after four.
5th: An 0-2 curve got Alexi Amarista swinging and he caught Jose Lobaton on the head with his follow-through. Lobaton was okay. Robbie Erlin K'd looking at another 0-2 bender for out no.2 and K no.8 for Strasburg. Everth Cabrera was 3 for 3 tonight after another single to left field off the Nats' starter but he was forced out at second on a grounder to short by Chris Denorfia that ended a 13-pitch 5th inning. 82P total after five.
6th: Yonder Alonso flew out to deep right field where Denard Span tracked it down. Jedd Gyorko K'd looking at a 94 mph fastball for out no.2 and K no. 9. Will Venable stepped in from the left side and worked the count full in his two-out at bat, and took a change up inside for ball four and a walk. Nick Hundley K'd swinging at a wicked 0-2 curve in the next at bat to end a 19-pitch inning that left Strasburg at 101 pitches overall with 10 Ks for his 14th career start with double-digit strikeouts.
7th: Xavier Nady was strikeout victim no.11 on the night for Stephen Strasburg when the former Nats' outfielder K'd looking at an 0-2 fastball. After Alexi Amarista grounded out to second, Jace Peterson kept the inning alive with a line drive single to center, but Strasburg got Everth Cabrera out for the first time tonight on a groundout to first base that ended an eight-pitch inning. 109 pitches total in 7.0 IP.
Stephen Strasburg's Line: 7.0 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 11 Ks, 109 P, 72 S, 5/2 GO/FO
2. Duke of Erlin: Acquired from Texas along with right-hander Joe Wieland in the July 2011 trade that sent reliever Mike Adams to the Rangers, 23-year-old lefty Robbie Erlin was an '09 3rd Round pick out of Scotts Valley High School in Scotts Valley, California. Before tonight's outing, he made one other start against the Nationals in which he gave up six hits and nine runs in four innings of work in Nationals Park last July.
The Nationals scored two runs on three hits off Erlin in the first, but he bounced back with a 1-2-3 second after which he'd thrown 40 pitches.
Erlin gave up four runs in the third, however, with Bryce Harper hitting a bases-loaded triple to the base of the right field wall and Jose Lobaton driving Harper in with a single. 6-0 Nationals after three in D.C.
Erlin hung around until the sixth, but gave up two more runs before he was replaced on the mound.
1. The Wrap-up/Not Again: Nationals' third baseman Anthony Rendon was 3 for 3 in his first three at bats. Ian Desmond and Bryce Harper were both 2 for 2 in their first two trips to the plate. But on the 3-run triple to right in the third, Harper appeared to jam his wrist/hand into the bag as he slid in headfirst, and he left the game in the top of the fifth replaced in left field by Nate McLouth.
Rendon was 4 for 4 tonight with a career-high in hits after he doubled in two runs in the bottom of the seventh. Jose Lobaton was 3 for 4 after he doubled and scored on Rendon's hit.
A night after the Nationals went 0 for 16 with runners in scoring position, they were 7 for 14 w/ RISP through seven innings in the second game of four with the Padres.
The Padres pushed a run across in the seventh with Jedd Gyorko, Rene River and Nick Hundley singling off Jerry Blevins to make it a 10-1 game.
Ian Desmond hit the second of two back-to-back singles in the Nationals' eighth, leaving him 3 for 5 tonight and the Nats loaded the bases with no one out against Padres' right-hader Donn Roach.
Final #s: Rendon - 4 for 5; Desmond - 3 for 5; Lobaton - 3 for 5
Nationals 7 for 17 w/ RISP.
Nationals now 13-11