Series Finale Top 5:
5. Quick Recap: In his second at bat this afternoon, and just two at bats after his eighth inning grand slam in last night's game, Washington Nationals' right fielder Jayson Werth got hold of a 3-0 fastball from Miami Marlins' starter Tom Koehler and deposited it in the Red Porch seats behind the Kaiser Permanente® sign in center field in Nationals Park to give the Nats a 2-0 lead early in the series finale with the Fish.
Werth's second home run of the year brought Anthony Rendon in after the Marlins' starter walked the red-hot hitting Nationals' second/third baseman (unintentionally) with two down in the bottom of the third inning.
Koehler probably wanted that 3-0 pitch back, because aside from a few wild pitches and the Werth home run he held the Nationals at bay for most of today's game.
Stephen Strasburg needed 60 pitches to get through five scoreless in which he struck out seven batters, allowing only a leadoff single by Christian Yelich in the first at bat of the game. Koehler reached on an infield single in the sixth and Strasburg hit Derek Dietrich, but back-to-back Ks from Giancarlo Stanton and Garrett Jones ended the threat there.
Marcell Ozuna hit a 94 mph 0-1 fastball out to left in the top of the seventh, cutting the Nationals' lead in half at 2-1, but Jerry Blevins came on for Strasburg after 6 2/3 IP and kept the lead in tact through six and a half.
Blevins and Aaron Barrett combined for a scoreless top of the eighth and the Nats blew it open in the bottom of the inning, with Bryce Harper taking a bases loaded walk in front of Ian Desmond, who hit a 1-1 fastball into the Red Porch seats for a grand slam and a 7-1 lead.
That's how it ended...
4. On Strasburg's Slider: When Stephen Strasburg talked about adding a slider to his repertoire this spring, he played it down, referring to it as something he was working on in order to give opposing teams something to think about when the prepared to face him."I like the results that I'm getting," he said last month, "and it's kind of just another thing that the hitter is going to have to prepare for."
Through two starts and 10 1/3 IP so far this season, the Nationals' right-hander has used the new weapon 14.1% of the time along with his fastballs (56.1%, down from 62.4% in his career), curve (17.7%, down from 21.3%) and change (12.1%, down from 15.9%).
Nats' skipper Matt Williams said today he likes what he's seen of the pitch so far this season.
"Well, from what I've seen of it, it's pretty effective," Williams told reporters. "You look at Stephen and you go, 'Well, he's so good with all his other pitches, why add it?' But there's a reason that he did. He wants more of a flat plain, certainly ball moving in to a left-hander and away from a right-hander. And that's great. As long as he's comfortable throwing it and he feels good about throwing it, then it's just another weapon for him."
"I think he's been really effective with it," Williams continued. "Certainly against a right-hander it looks like a fastball coming out of his hand and then it's not. It's a completely different plane than a breaking ball and he's got one that moves this way and one that moves that way with his changeup so it's just an added tool for him and I think it's been good."
Strasburg didn't throw too many sliders today, however...
Kornheiser says Strasburg "is a hothouse plant" http://t.co/WAjgnx8cdY— Dan Steinberg (@dcsportsbog) April 10, 2014
1st: Strasburg's third start of the year began with red-hot 22-year-old Marlin Christian Yelich taking a 95 mph 1-0 fastball back up the middle for a leadoff single. Yelich stole second and took third when the throw by Sandy Leon got by the base and Nate McLouth misplayed it in center field, but Yelich was tagged out on a grounder to the mound by Derek Dietrich when Strasburg snagged the chopper and quickly threw home to start a rundown. A 1-2 change low in the zone got Giancarlo Stanton swinging and a well-struck fly to center off Garrett Jones' bat made its way into McLouth's glove to end a 10-pitch top of the first.
2nd: Casey McGehee hit a first-pitch fastball back up the middle and off Strasburg on the mound, but the Nats' right-hander recovered and tossed to first after missing an attempted tag. Marcell Ozuna K'd swinging thru a 94 mph 1-2 fastball outside and Adeiny Hechavarria flew out to right to end a six-pitch, 1-2-3 second that left Strasburg at 16 pitches overall after two.
3rd: Jeff Mathis tried to hit an 0-2 change that kept drifting inside. He missed it. K no.3 for Strasburg. A 1-2 curve dropped in and Tom Koehler for out no.2 of the third and K no.4. Christian Yelich worked the count full and hit a sharp grounder to second that Anthony Rendon handled. A 13-pitch inning ended with a throw to Adam LaRoche at first. 29 pitches total after three scoreless by Strasburg.
4th: Derek Dietrich popped a 2-2 change up to Ryan Zimmerman in foul territory off third. Giancarlo Stanton sent a low one-hop liner out to short where Ian Desmond made a nice play and strong throw for out no.2 of the Marlins' fourth and Strasburg dropped a diving 90 mph 0-2 change on Garrett Jones to get him flailing for strike three, out no.3 and K no.5 of the Nats' starter's fourth scoreless. 12-pitch inning, 41 total after four.
5th: Strasburg got up 0-2 on Casey McGehee and got a weak grounder to third (that Ryan Zimmerman sidearmed to first) for the first out of the Marlins' fifth. A 1-2 change to Marcell Ozuna did crazy things on its way in and got the right-handed hitting outfielder swinging for out no.2 and Strasburg's sixth K. Adeiny Hechavarria got to a 2-2 count, and grounded ou-- reached on an error by Ian Desmond. Jeff Mathis missed an 0-1 change (I think it was a slider, Gameday), and took an 0-2 fastball for a called strike three, out no.3 and K no.7. Strasburg's 19-pitch fifth left him at 60 pitches even after five. 12P AVG per frame.
6th: Tom Koehler hit a grounder deep enough in the hole at short on which he was able to reach safely with an infield single in the top of the sixth. Christian Yelich K'd chasing a diving 1-2 change outside for out no.1 of the inning and K no.8 of the game. Derek Deitrich took a fastball on the elbow and got a free base for it. Giancarlo Stanton fell behind 1-2 and took a change inside for a called strike three, out no.2 and K no.9. Garrett Jones flailed at an 0-1 change that fell out of mid-air as it approached the plate and stranded two runners when he K'd swinging through a 2-2 fastball up high outside. Out no.3, K no.10. Unreal.
7th: A 1-2 fastball up high got Casey McGehee swinging for the first out of the seventh and Strasburg's 11th K, but Marcell Ozuna cut the Nationals' lead in half when he took a 94 mph 0-1 fastball to left for a solo home run that made it a 2-1 game in the Nationals' favor. An 0-2 change got Adeiny Hechavarria swinging for out no.2 and K no. 12. Jeff Mathis battled his way to a nine-pitch, two-out walk that ended Strasburg's outing after 98 pitches...
3. Key Matchup: Strasburg vs Stanton - Coming into today's game, Giancarlo Stanton, the Marlins' 24-year-old slugger, was sporting a fairly imposing .331/.414/.760 line with 13 doubles and 13 HRs in 32 games and 140 plate appearances in Washington, D.C.'s Nationals Park in his five-year career.
Before this afternoon's series finale, Stanton, an '07 2nd Round pick out of Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, California, was 8 for 21 (.381/.435/.857) with four doubles and two home runs off 25-year-old right-hander Stephen Strasburg, the Nationals' '09 no.1 overall pick out of San Diego, California and San Diego State University.
Through two of the Marlins' three games in the Nats' home this week, however, the Nationals were fairly successful at limiting the damage by Miami's big middle-of-the-order bat, holding Stanton to two hits, a walk and one RBI in nine plate appearances.
Stanton's first at bat today came with a runner on second and one down in the first. Strasburg got him swinging with a 1-2 change low in the zone that completely fooled the Marlins' three-hole hitter.
Stanton was 8 for 23 career vs Strasburg after he sent a sharp one-hop grounder out to Ian Desmond in his second at bat of the day in the fourth.
There were two runners on in the sixth when Stanton faced Strasburg for the third time, but he went down looking at a 94 mph 1-2 fastball.
Verdict: Strasburg wins.
2. One Pitch Each: Though Tom Koehler was wild throughout the game at times, it was a 3-0 fastball to Jayson Werth that really cost him today when the Nats' right fielder deposited it in the Red Porch seats in center field. Stephen Strasburg was working on a shutout when Marcell Ozuna got all of a 94 mph 0-1 fastball and hit a towering shot to left field in Nationals Park that almost cleared the seats and reached the concourse. They were the only run-scoring hits through seven innings in the series finale.
1. SWEEP!!!!: Jerry Blevins came on to end the seventh and he and Aaron Barrett combined for a scoreless eighth, with Barrett striking Giancarlo Stanton out in a gutsy two-out at bat.
Anthony Rendon doubled to start the Nats' eighth, collecting a hit in his ninth straight game to start the season and he took third on Jayson Werth's line drive single to left field. Arquimedes Caminero walked pinch hitter Kevin Frandsen to load the bases with one down and then walked Bryce Harper to force in a run, 3-1. After a visit to the mound by Marlins' skipper Mike Redmond, Caminero served up a 1-1 fastball that Desmond hit into the Red Porch seats for a GRAND SLAM and a 7-1 Nationals' lead. Ballgame.
Now on to the Braves!!!
Nationals now 7-2