clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Nationals' pitchers shut Pirates' hitters down over 24 scoreless in three-game sweep

New, 18 comments

Washington Nationals' pitchers Joe Ross, David Carpenter, Drew Storen, Max Scherzer, Gio Gonzalez and Matt Thornton combined for 24 scoreless innings in a row against the Pittsburgh PIrates, setting a new Nats' record (2005-present).

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

On Friday night in the nation's capital, Washington Nationals' starter Joe Ross, in his third major league outing, gave up one run on six hits, allowing one to come in on back-to-back singles by Francisco Cervelli and Gregory Polanco in the second before he shut the Pittsburgh Pirates down over the next 5 ⅓ innings.

Ross, 22, struck out eleven batters on the night before handing the ball off to David Carpenter (⅔ IP) and Drew Storen (1 IP) in what ended up a 4-1 Nationals' win.

"He throws strikes. Throws strikes down in the zone which leads to a lot of swings on the slider down out of the zone. But it starts with the fastball." -Matt Williams on Joe Ross vs the Pirates

Nats' hitters connected for 14 hits against Pirates' starter A.J. Burnett, a career-high for the seventeen-year veteran.

Nationals' manager Matt Williams talked after the game about the approach Ross has taken in his first three starts and the aggressiveness he's displayed since his somewhat surprising call to the majors.

"He throws strikes," Williams said. "Throws strikes down in the zone which leads to a lot of swings on the slider down out of the zone. But it starts with the fastball. He throws it where he wants to, pitches in to right-handers which is good too, gets them off that slider a little bit.

"He's aggressive. He's been aggressive since he's been here. He's pitched really well for us."

On Saturday afternoon in Nationals Park, right-hander Max Scherzer earned his spot in baseball history alongside Walter Johnson (1920), Bobby Burke in (1931) and Jordan Zimmermann (2014) as the three D.C.-based pitchers who've thrown no-hitters.

Over nine innings on the mound against the Pirates, Scherzer struck out ten and induced four groundouts and six fly ball outs before he hit pinch hitter Jose Tabata, the 27th batter he'd faced in what was to that point a perfect game.

Scherzer settled for a no-hitter when he got utility man Josh Harrison to fly out to left field for the 27th out from the 28th batter of the game for the visiting team.

"It stands out that the Pirates are a good club and they've been playing extremely well," Williams said when asked if was even more impressive that Scherzer no-hit a team that came to Washington on a roll.

"Every time that Max takes the mound he's got a game plan and a way to get them out and he just exercised that again today."

In the series finale on Sunday, it was Gio Gonzalez's turn on the mound for the Nationals.

Coming off a rough 3 ⅓-inning outing against the Milwaukee Brewers, Gonzalez was given a nine-run lead to work with in the bottom of the first, and proceeded to shut Pittsburgh down over the next six innings for seven scoreless overall.

"He was aggressive from the first inning," Williams said, "not necessarily pitching laterally, but pitching vertically. So, for him that's the key, if he can throw strikes then his stuff is really good.

"The issues come when he allows bases on balls. Today he didn't do that. For the most part he was throwing it where he wanted to..." -Matt Williams on Gio Gonzalez vs the Pirates

"The issues come when he allows bases on balls. Today he didn't do that. For the most part he was throwing it where he wanted to, both in and out and using the curveball effectively."

Gonzalez walked two, but stranded both runners, allowing just four hits total in seven scoreless innings in an efficient 85-pitch start in which he induced thirteen ground ball outs from the twenty-six Pirates he faced.

Nats' lefty Matt Thornton took over for Gonzalez in the eighth inning and completed a scoreless frame, giving the Nationals 24 scoreless innings in a row, a new record (2005-present).

The streak ended when left-handed reliever Felipe Rivero gave up two runs in the ninth in what ended up a 9-2 win in which the Nationals earned a sweep of the three-game set from a Pittsburgh team that came to Washington on an eight-game winning streak.

"The guys pitched good," Williams said on Sunday afternoon.

"They all pitched really well for us against a team that's a good team. So it was a good series for us, yeah."

"The last three guys that we've had start games have pitched really well. That sets our tone, certainly. Doesn't mean it's going to happen every day..." -Matt Williams on Nats' starter vs Pirates

"The last three guys that we've had start games have pitched really well," Williams told reporters.

"That sets our tone, certainly. Doesn't mean it's going to happen every day, but I like the way we were aggressive offensively early as well. Guys are starting to get their legs back a little bit. We're using the basepaths a little more. That's certainly part of our equation and our defense has been solid too. Over the course of three days, all of that adds up to chances to win games."

With three straight, and wins in six of their last ten now, the Nationals also reclaimed first place in the NL East.

So who's next in line on the mound as the Nats try to keep the stretch of strong starts going when the Atlanta Braves come to town on Tuesday night? No starter has been announced for the series opener with the Nats' NL East rivals.

"We are going to look at it tomorrow," Williams said after the finale of the three-game set with the Pirates.

"We'll have a work day here and we'll have something tomorrow if not on Tuesday morning."

Stephen Strasburg made his first rehab start Wednesday afternoon, so he would be on five day's rest if he got the nod on Tuesday night. Jordan Zimmermann's listed as Wednesday night's starter.

At least one National thinks the '09 no.1 overall pick is set to return to the Nationals' rotation.

Bryce Harper was asked after Sunday's win about the pitching performances the Nats got from their staff this weekend and had this to say.

"It's unbelievable, starting with Joe Ross and going into the weekend and seeing [Max] do what he did. I mean, we've got one best staffs in baseball and Stras coming this week against the Braves, so hopefully we can keep it going as a team, hopefully we can keep it going as a staff and keep getting the runs on the board for us and we've got a couple guys we're going to face from the Braves that are pretty dang good. So take it one game at a time and see where we're at."