Friday night’s matchup between the Washington Nationals and the Milwaukee Brewers — the second of a four-game set in Wisconsin — wasn’t advertised as a marquee pitching matchup.
It wasn’t a knock against starters Jimmy Nelson or Tanner Roark — both very good pitchers in their own right — but instead a comment on the strength of the rest of the league’s pitching, headlined by superstars such as Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw.
Of course, if Tanner Roark and Jimmy Nelson pitched every game like they did Friday night’s, narrowly escaping disaster a few times but mainly dominating the other side, the next time the two meet, it’s likely that it would get a little more attention.
Roark, 5-2 after the All-Star Break with a 3.31 ERA entering Friday’s game, extended his stretch of brilliance, going seven innings and only allowing five hits and one run.
However, just by a thread, it wasn’t enough, as Neil Walker’s first inning home run would be all that the Brewers needed to hold down the Nats in a 1-0 win for the home team.
Nelson, in the meantime, came into the game hoping to continue to turn things around after two straight disastrous mid-August starts that ballooned his ERA for the month to 5.05.
He did just that, sneaking out of multiple situations early on with runners in scoring position, and holding the Nats scoreless over seven innings on three hits, with 11 strikeouts.
Josh Hader and Corey Knebel came in for the top of the eighth and ninth, striking out the side over two innings to end a surprisingly low-scoring affair.
The Nats are now 81-53, with a magic number of 14.
HERE’S HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Jimmy Nelson got off to a quick start, only needing ten pitches to sit down the Nats in the top of the first, an inning that would have been even shorter if it hadn’t been for Daniel Murphy’s two-out single, the Nats’ first hit.
- Shortstop Neil Walker gave the Brewers their first hit and an early first inning lead, launching a 76 MPH curveball 450 feet, landing in the upper deck of the right field mezzanine, putting Milwaukee up 1-0.
- Howie Kendrick, after leading off the second with a single, advanced to third on an errant throw on a stolen base attempt, but was stranded there after Michael A. Taylor and Roark couldn’t get him home. Roark sat down the side in order in the bottom of the second.
- Trea Turner led off the top of the third with a walk, and then proceeded to steal second on the 0-1 pitch to Wilmer Difo, who also walked. Ryan Zimmerman was hit by a pitch, but the Nats were unable to convert and stranded the bases loaded to end the top of the third. Through three innings, the Nats went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position.
- Roark sat down the side in order in the bottom of the third, and Nelson did the same in the top of the fourth.
- Tanner Roark sat down the side in order in an eventful bottom of the fourth that included the ejection of Ryan Braun, who took offense with a 3-1 called strike and was tossed on the spot after his at-bat.
Braun thrown out for arguing pitch 5 pic.twitter.com/7SH6pfufkT— Nats' Magic Number (@NatsMagicNumber) September 2, 2017
- Nelson matched Roark and then some, as the Nats went 1-2-3 in the top of the fifth.
- Domingo Santana’s leadoff double and Stephen Vogt’s single put runners on the corners in the bottom of the fifth inning for Milwaukee. A base-hit bunt for Jonathan Villar loaded the bases for Orlando Arcia with nobody out.
- Arcia tapped a ball in front of catcher Jose Lobaton, who stepped on home plate and threw to first for a 2-3 double play with the pitcher on deck. Roark struck out Nelson to end the threat.
Just your run-of-the-mill 2-3 double play. pic.twitter.com/yLSUGuQW6l— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) September 2, 2017
- While you weren’t paying attention: The Phillies beat the Marlins to lower the Nats’ magic number to 14.
- Both Tanner Roark and Jimmy Nelson sat down the side quickly in the sixth inning, with a base hit and a hit batsman being the only runners of the inning. Through six, Nelson had thrown 95 pitches, and Roark 89.
- Roark batted for himself in the top of the seventh as the last batter of a 1-2-3 inning that brought Nelson’s pitch count to 100 and brought Nelson the end of his evening.
- Jimmy Nelson’s line: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 11 Ks, 100 P, 64 S, 6/1 GO/FO.
- In the bottom of the seventh, Tanner Roark allowed a two-out double to Jonathan Villar, then intentionally walked Orlando Arcia to put runners on first and second, and perhaps more importantly force Nelson out of the game, as Brewers manager Craig Counsell pinch hit for the pitcher.
- Pinch hitter Jesus Aguilar hit a 86 MPH slider roughly 395 feet to straightaway center field, coming up just short of the wall and a win-guaranteeing three-run home run. Aguilar’s at-bat was the end of Roark’s night.
- Tanner Roark’s line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 10 SO, 105 P, 69 S, 6/4 GO/FO
TAN-NER RO-ARK! - -— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) September 2, 2017
He has 10 Ks through 7 innings of one-run ball. pic.twitter.com/ML01K8PGnd
- Josh Hader entered for the Brewers in the top of the eighth, striking out the side, including Daniel Murphy, whose three-strikeout night was only his second of the season.
- Sammy Solis entered for the Nats in the bottom of the eighth and recorded two outs before being replaced by Brandon Kintzler, who allowed a single and a long fly ball to left-center field that Michael A. Taylor was able to grab, slamming into the wall.
- Brewers closer Corey Knebel entered in the top of the ninth, retiring Zimmerman and Kendrick and short order before allowing a walk to Jayson Werth. Adam Lind struck out to end the game. Final Score: Brewers 1, Nationals 0
NATIONALS PREGAME NOTES:
- Last night’s loss against the Brewers was just the 25th road loss of the season for the Nationals on the road, tied with the Dodgers for the second-fewest road losses in the Majors. The Nats still have the best road winning percentage at 41-25 (.621) in the National League and trail only the Astros (42-22, .656) for the Major League lead.
- With their 81st win of the season on Wednesday against the Marlins (the fastest any team in franchise history has ever reached the mark), the 2017 Nationals have secured their sixth consecutive season as a .500-or-better club.
- Over the last 25 games (since Aug. 6), the Nationals are 17-8, and have outscored opponents 115-75. The Nats’ 18 wins in August made it their winningest month of the season.
- Trea Turner’s 3-4 night with a single, double, triple, two runs scored, an RBI, and a stolen base was the second time this season that Turner has posted a single, double, triple in one game (the other time being when he hit for the cycle in Colorado on April 25th.)
- Washington’s offense leads the National League in multiple statistical categories, including: SLG (.459), runs (704), OPS (.796), and extra-base hits (T1st, 471).
- The Nationals rank second in the NL in AVG (.272), are fourth in OBP (.337) and sixth in home runs (184).
- RF Bryce Harper (3rd, .326), 2B Daniel Murphy (5th, .318), 3B Anthony Rendon (13th, .305), and 1B Ryan Zimmerman (18th, .299) occupy four of the top 18 spots in NL AVG.
The Nats are now 81-53, with a magic number of 14.