Doug Fister retired the first ten batters he faced on Saturday afternoon in the nation's capital. Six of those ten Texas Rangers' batters grounded out and three K'd looking. There was one down in the fourth when Elvis Andrus doubled to left field on a 3-1 fastball for the first hit of the game off the Nats' 30-year-old right-hander, who retired the next two hitters to strand Andrus at second at the end of his fourth scoreless inning of work in what ended up a 10-2 win.
Fister gave up just his second walk in 28 2/3 IP to that point in the first at bat of the Rangers' fifth, and a pop to short right that neither Jayson Werth or Danny Espinosa could catch in spite of Espinosa's over-the-shoulder attempt, allowed the walk to come around for the first run the Nationals' starter allowed.
Shin-Soo Choo doubled to left on an 0-1 change in the sixth before scoring when Fister left an 0-2 curve up for Rangers' first baseman Mitch Moreland, who lined it off the out-of-town scoreboard in right.
The Nationals scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth on a Scott Hairston home run so when Fister officially left the game in the top of the seventh, Washington was up 10-2.
Fister earned the win, improving to (3-1) in five starts with the six-inning effort in which he gave up four hits, the one walk and two earned runs while striking out six. He threw 104 pitches, 69 of them strikes.
When he was done for the day, the former Detroit Tigers' starter, acquired by the Nats in a 3-for-1 trade this winter, had a 3.34 ERA, a 4.00 FIP, two walks (0.63 BB/9) and 23 Ks (6.98 K/9) in 29 2/3 IP overall so far in 2014.
"He was good," Nationals' manager Matt Williams told reporters. "He had a really good game plan. Kind of sat with the position players yesterday and went over it. He has some experience against these guys that the rest of our guys don't [necessarily] have, so he wanted to sit with them and talk to them about it. But he had a really good game plan about how to attack them. He hung a curveball to Moreland, but other than that he was pretty good."
The curve to Moreland was really the only mistake Fister made on the mound in Nationals Park.
Working quickly as usual, he managed to keep the game moving and keep his defense alert.
"They expect the ball to be put in play," Williams explained in talking about Fister's pacing. "He throws strikes with all of his pitches. The radar gun doesn't light up, but he puts it where he wants to, he's got a good game plan going out there. He's an athlete, so he can do a lot of things on the baseball diamond to help himself too, so all of that is really good for us."
"He grabs the ball and goes and you don't have time to stand defensively," the Nats' skipper continued.
"You're on your toes because you expect the ball to be put in play and it's happening so quickly."
After he was roughed up in his first start of the season in Oakland's O.co Coliseum, surrendering nine hits and seven runs, five earned in 4 1/3 IP, Fister's allowed just six runs total (2.13 ERA) in his last four starts and 25 1/3 IP.
Fister has also received run support in his last four outings, with the Nationals' scoring 29 runs in his starts, after they were shut out by the A's 8-0 in his 2014 debut.
The Nationals' impressive offensive output in the first two games with Texas has put them in a position to sweep the Rangers with a win in Sunday's series finale, but to do it they'll have to beat right-hander Yu Darvish, who posted a 2.10 ERA in four starts and 30 IP in May, holding opposing hitters to a .185/.254/.296 line over the last month.
• We talked about Fister's outing, the Nationals' offensive surge, Anthony Rendon's defense and more on the latest edition of Nats Nightly: