Goodbye, Red Grooms Top 5:
5. Quick Recap: Washington Nationals' right-hander Stephen Strasburg and Miami Marlins' starter Nathan Eovaldi both threw four scoreless innings on 56 pitches to start the series finale of the Nats' four-game set in Marlins Park.
The Nats broke through first, however, with a two-run fifth that started with a Jose Lobaton double to left on which Fish left fielder Christian Yelich made an ill-advised attempt at a diving catch and came up empty. Nate Schierholtz followed with an RBI triple to the right-center gap and one out later Anthony Rendon drove Schierholtz in with the third extra base hit of the inning and Rendon's 39th double of the season. 2-0 Nats.
Strasburg completed seven scoreless on just 84 pitches to make the 2-0 lead hold up through seven. Craig Stammen threw a scoreless eighth. Rafael Soriano came on for the save opportunity. Soriano gave up a leadoff double by Reed Johnson, who tagged on a fly to center by Christian Yelich and scored on a fly to right by Donovan Solano. 2-1 Nationals. That's how it ended.
The Nats swept the four-game set with the Fish.
4. Strasburg = Narrative Buster: After struggling historically in Turner Field, and having issues against the Atlanta Braves in general, Stephen Strasburg took the mound last time out in Georgia and threw seven scoreless innings against the Nationals' NL East rivals in Washington's 4-2 win.
The start left the Nats' 26-year-old, '09 no.1 overall pick (5-5) in 12 second-half starts with a 3.16 ERA, 3.46 FIP, 14 walks (1.64 BB/9) and 81 Ks (9.47 K/9) in 77 IP over which he's held opposing hitters to a .230/273/.411 line.
Nationals' manager Matt Williams said after the start in Atlanta that Strasburg's success on the mound was, as always, tied to his command.
"Just throwing it where he wanted to," Williams explained. "He threw some good balls in to Justin [Upton]. He got Freddie [Freeman] a couple of times. It's important for him to throw it where he wants to, but he was in control. He had a little bit of a tight neck tonight from sleeping, but he battled through that, so he wasn't on his 'A' game, but he sure pitched like it."
Strasburg has struggled in Marlins Park this season too, and this afternoon he got a shot to turn that around as well in the series finale with the Fish.
In two starts in Miami earlier this season, the right-hander was (0-2) with a 5.73 ERA and a .286/.362/.452 line against in 11 IP.
Against the Marlins overall, Strasburg was (1-2) in three 2014 starts with a 4.08 ERA, six walks (3.06 BB/9) and 21 Ks (10.70 K/9) in 17 ⅔ IP in which Miami's hitters put up a .227/.301/.379 line.
In his career, before this afternoon's outing, Strasburg was (7-5) in 17 starts against the Fish with a 3.94 ERA, 29 walks (2.93 BB/9) and 89 Ks (9.00 K/9) in 89 IP in which Miami's hitters put up a combined .231/.296/.371 line against him.
His fourth start against the Marlins this season began with a backwards K...
1st: Christian Yelich took a 94 mph knee-high fastball for a called strike three and the first out of the Marlins' first. Donovan Solano took a one-out walk to snap a streak of 28 IP in which Strasburg hadn't given up a free pass. Casey McGehee stepped in with a runner on and grounded to third to start an inning-ending 5-4-3. 13-pitch frame.
2nd: Marcell Ozuna took the second walk of the game from Strasburg in the first at bat of the second. Justin Bour sent a grounder up the middle for an infield single that put two runners on, but he was forced out at second when Jarrod Saltalamacchia grounded into a 4-6-3 for the first two outs of the second. Ozuna took third on the play, but was stranded when Enrique Hernandez K'd swinging at a sweeping 1-2 bender to end a 21-pitch second that left Strasburg at 34 pitches total after two.
3rd: Adeiny Hechavarria grounded out to third to start the Marlins' half of the third inning. Nathan Eovaldi took a 2-2 fastball outside for a called third strike. Christian Yelich sent a sharp one-hopper to third that Anthony Rendon handled, with his throw to first ending a quick, 13-pitch frame. 47 total after three.
4th: Anthony Rendon charged a slow roller off Donovan Solano's bat and made a strong throw to first. Casey McGehee turned a 95 mph fastball inside around but grounded out sharply to second. Marcell Ozuna's pop to short-center ended a nine-pitch frame that left Strasburg at 56 pitches.
5th: Justin Bour grounded out to first to start the Marlins' fifth. Jarrod Saltalamacchia grounded back to the mound for Strasburg's 10th straight out. Enrique Hernandez's lineout to right ended a quick, 11-pitch, 1-2-3 frame that left Strasburg at 67 pitches overall. Eleven-straight set down.
6th: Adeiny Hechavarria tried to bunt his way on, bunt Anthony Rendon was all over it. Pinch hitter Ed Lucas went down swinging at an 89 mph 1-2 change. Christian Yelich's two-out single to left ended a streak of 13 straight set down by Strasburg, but Donovan Solano's groundout to third ended a nine-pitch sixth that left Strasburg at 76 pitches overall.
Trying to bunt on Anthony Rendon is not a great idea. Case in point: http://t.co/1qPskLUOaa— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) September 21, 2014
7th: Casey McGehee K'd on a check swing on a 1-2 change. Marcell Ozuna tried to take second on a line drive to left and turned his ankle when he stepped awkwardly on the bag. Asdrubal Cabrera applied the tag. Ozuna had to be helped off the field. Justin Bour came up with two out and sent a screamer to first that Adam LaRoche gracefully and effortlessly handled. Eight-pitch frame. 84 total for Strasburg after seven.
• Stephen Strasburg's Line: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 Ks, 84 P, 55 S, 11/0 GO/FO.
3. Eovaldi's Turn: Marlins' starter Nathan Eovaldi, 24, beat the Washington Nationals in his first start of the season against Miam's NL East rivals back on May 26th with 6 ⅓ IP in the nation's capital over which the Los Angeles Dodgers' '08 11th Round pick, who was acquired in the Hanley Ramirez deal in July of 2012, gave up just three hits and two earned runs in a 3-2 win over the Nats.
The next time out on the mound against the eventual NL East division winners, on July 28th, Eovaldi got knocked around a bit and was out after 5 ⅓ IP in which he allowed six hits, two walks and five earned runs in what ended up a 7-6 loss in which he received no decision.
Those two outings left Eovaldi (2-2) in five career starts against the Nationals with a 5.74 ERA, eight walks and 21 Ks in 26 ⅔ IP over which Nats' hitters put up a combined .276/.336/.400 line against him.
The hard-throwing right-hander has struggled in the second-half, and entered today's in the midst of a six-game losing streak.
In 12 outings after the All-Star Break, the Marlins' starter was (1-8) with a 6.04 ERA, 3.65 FIP and a .312/.354/.428 line against in 67 IP.
Eovaldi took the mound in Marlins Park looking to end his own six-game losing streak and the Marlins' three-game losing streak after they dropped the first three-games of the four-game set with the Nats.
He started the series finale in Miami with a scoreless 14-pitch first in which he worked around a two-out single by Bryce Harper. Nationals' catcher Jose Lobaton K'd looking at a 1-2 bender to end a 12-pitch, 1-2-3 second that left Eovaldi at 26 pitches total.
Anthony Rendon singled to center with two down in the third. Asdrubal Cabrera reached on a grounder that just made it through the right side under a diving Donovan Solano's glove. Bryce Harper stepped in with two on and two out and K'd swinging at a backdoor bender. 21-pitch frame, 47 total after three.
Got'em! Nathan #whiffs Bryce Harper to complete a scoreless top 3rd.— Miami Marlins (@Marlins) September 21, 2014
Adam LaRoche singled to right to start the fourth, but he was doubled up on a diving catch on a fly to right off Kevin Frandsen's bat when Marlins' right-hander Enrique Hernandez made a spectacular play and threw it back in for the second out. Danny Espinosa's groundout in the next at bat ended a nine-pitch frame that left Eovaldi at 56 pitches.
Christian Yelich dove for a line drive to left off Jose Lobaton's bat, but came up empty. Lobaton's leadoff double was followed by an RBI triple to the right-center gap by Nate Schierholtz, whose fourth three-base hit of the season gave the Nats a 1-0 lead. Stephen Strasburg grounded out to the mound for the first out of the frame. Anthony Rendon's 39th double of the year brought Schierholtz in to make it 2-0 Nats after four and a half. 25-pitch frame, 81 total after five.
Adam LaRoche, Kevin Frandsen and Danny Espinosa went down in order in an eight-pitch sixth that left Eovaldi at 89 pitches...
• Nathan Eovaldi's Line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 Ks, 89 P, 53 S, 7/2 GO/FO.
2. Turning Point(s): Marlins' right fielder Enrique Hernandez made an all-out effort on a fly to the right field corner off Kevin Frandsen's bat in the fourth, and made the catch and a strong throw in to first to double up Adam LaRoche after a leadoff single by the Nats' first baseman.
In the fifth, however, Marlins' left fielder Christian Yelich made an all-or-nothing attempt to catch a line drive to left off Nats' catcher Jose Lobaton's bat and came up empty. The fact that he could have limited the speed-challenged backstop to one base didn't end up mattering as Nate Schierholtz tripled to right in the next at bat, but the two-base hit by Lobaton started a rally which resulted in the first two runs of the game coming in to make it 2-0 Nationals in the fifth inning of the series finale.
1. The Wrap-Up: Andrew Heaney, the Marlins' 2012 1st Round pick, taken 9th overall out of Oklahoma State, took over on the mound for Miami in the top of the seventh inning and retired the Nationals in order in a 17-pitch frame.
Heaney came back out for the eighth and retired the side in order again.
Craig Stammen took over for the Nationals in the eighth and hit Enrique Hernandez with one down, but a grounder back to the mound off Adeiny Hechavarria's bat that bounced Stammen's glove, went right to Danny Espinosa to start a 1-6-3 DP.
Heaney retired the Nationals in order for his third straight scoreless inning in the ninth.
Pitch it, Soriano! Pitch it, Soriano! Strike'em out, Soriano! Strike'em out, Soriano!
Matt Williams decided to send Rafael Soriano out with a 2-0 lead. Reed Johnson doubled to left on a deep fly to the track that Bryce Harper couldn't catch. Christian Yelich flew to center for the first out of the frame, allowing Johnson to tag and score. 2-1. A fly to left by Casey McGehee ended it. Ballgame. 2-1 final.
Work's done! Untuck that jersey, son!!
Nationals now 91-64