WASHINGTON, D.C.: Just like the Washington Nationals’ brass drew it up. Hours after they traded both Daniel Murphy and Matt Adams, (to the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals, respectively), the Nats got a two-run home run from Andrew Stevenson (who was one of the two players called up to fill out the roster) and a solo shot from Wilmer Difo, (who’s going to play second now that Murphy is a Cub), as they rallied from a 4-1 deficit with a five-run sixth that gave them a 6-4 lead in what ended up a 10-4 win over the NL East’s second-place Philadelphia Phillies.
Ryan Zimmerman added an insurance run with his 11th HR of 2018 in the seventh, and the Nationals took the series opener in D.C.
Roark vs Philly: Unbeaten in his last five starts (5-0), with a 1.77 ERA and a .214/.246/.282 line against in 35 2⁄3 IP over that stretch, Tanner Roark took the mound in D.C. tonight to face Philadelphia’s Phillies for the fourth time this season after going (0-3) with a 5.40 ERA and a .308/.403/.492 line against in 16 2⁄3 IP in his previous outings against the Nationals’ NL East rivals.
Roark drove in a run with an RBI double, and tossed three scoreless on 41 pitches before an hour and forty-two minute rain delay brought his outing to a premature end...
Tanner Roark’s Line: 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 41 P, 24 S, 3/4 GO/FO.
Velasquez in D.C.: Vince Velasquez’s last start against the Nationals only lasted two innings, before he took a line drive off his right forearm and was forced to exit the game. In his only previous outing against Washington this season, Philadelphia’s 26-year-old righty gave up just one run in five innings in what ended up a 3-1 win for the Phillies.
Going into tonight’s matchup, Velasquez was (3-1) in six games (five starts) in the second-half, with a 3.16 ERA and a .233/.352/.322 line against in 25 2⁄3 IP.
He gave up a run in the second when Ryan Zimmerman doubled to start the frame and scored on an RBI double to center by the opposing pitcher, Tanner Roark, who put the home team up, 1-0.
Velasquez returned to the mound after a 1-hour, 42-minute rain delay and retired the side in order in a 12-pitch third that left him at 49 pitches total after three, then came back out with a nine-pitch fourth before he was done...
Vince Velasquez’s Line: 4.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 Ks, 58 P, 36 S.
Z-I-M!: Ryan Zimmerman was 14 for 45 (.311/.396/.667) with four doubles and four homers over 15 games and 53 plate appearances heading into this week’s three-game series with the Phillies, taking him from a 232/.298/.435 line on July 31st to .251/.324/.492 before the start of play today. He added his 5th double of the month in the first at bat of the second, then scored from third on an RBI double by Tanner Roark to give the Nationals a 1-0 lead in the series opener with Philly in D.C.
#DifOBP!!: Wilmer Difo is going to see plenty of time at second now that Daniel Murphy is a Cub, and Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez told reporters before today’s game that he thought it was a good opportunity for Difo to show what he can do.
“At the beginning he played quite a bit and did well,” Martinez said. “So you know, I want him to just go play baseball like he’s capable of playing and bring that energy every day.”
Difo brought it tonight, homering to right in the sixth to put the Nationals on top, 5-4, an at bat after Andrew Stevenson, one of two players who were called up when Murphy and Matt Adams were dealt, tied things up with his first major league homer, a two-run blast to left-center off Victor Arano.
BULLPEN ACTION: Matt Grace took over on the mound for the Nationals in the top of the fourth inning, and completed two scoreless on 23 pitches while also picking up his first hit in the majors in the bottom of the fifth.
Hector Neris took over for Vince Velasquez in the home-half of the fifth inning, surrendering the aforementioned hit by Grace and a one-out walk to Adam Eaton that set Trea Turner up with a runner in scoring position. Turner sent a blooper to short right that fell in for a hit and loaded the bases.
Victor Arano came on to face Bryce Harper, and popped him up to short left, then popped Anthony Rendon up as well as the Nationals left’em loaded.
Having missed out on an opportunity, the Nationals promptly surrendered the lead when Phillies’ outfielder Roman Quinn hit his first career home run out to left off Grace, tying it with the solo shot on a 1-2 slider, 1-1.
An E:6 by Trea Turner on a low liner to short off Cesar Hernandez’s bat and a single to right field by Rhys Hoskins put runners on the corners with no one out, and an RBI single to left by Asdrubal Cabrera put the Phillies up, 2-1, and ended Grace’s outing.
Jimmy Cordero came on and gave up an RBI single to right by Carlos Santana, 3-1, and a Maikel Franco groundout brought Cabrera in, 4-1 after five and a half.
Juan Soto bunted his way on to start the Nationals’ half of the sixth inning, moved up on a Ryan Zimmerman groundout, and scored on a single to right field by Matt Wieters, 4-2.
A two-run home run to left-center by Andrew Stevenson, on an 0-1 slider from Arano tied it up and 4-4, and a solo shot to right by Wilmer Difo in the next at bat put the Nats back on top, 5-4, and after Trea Turner singled, Bryce Harper drove him in with an RBI double, 6-4.
Tim Collins walked the first batter he faced in the seventh, Nick Williams, so Martinez went to the pen again for Justin Miller. Roman Quinn reached on a grounder when Wilmer Difo was unable to make a play, and both runners were bunted over by Cesar Hernandez, but Miller threw a 1-2 fastball by Rhys Hoskins for out No. 2, and got a groundout from Asdrubal Cabrera to end threat.
This time it was the Nationals who struck after a miss opportunity by the opposition with Ryan Zimmerman sending a 1-0 fastball from Edubray Ramos out to left-center for a solo home run in the first at bat of the Nats’ half of the seventh, 7-4 Nats. No. 11 for No. 11.
Koda Glover got the top of the eighth for the Nationals, giving up a one-out double and two walks before he was lifted with two out in favor of Wander Suero, who came and struck out Roman Quinn to end the threat.
Adam Eaton walked to start the bottom of the eighth and scored from third two outs later on an RBI double by Anthony Rendon, 8-4.
Walks to Juan Soto (intentional) and Zimmerman (less intentional) loaded the bases for Matt Wieters, who hit a two-run single to right, 10-4.
Kelvin Herrera retired the Phillies in order in the ninth to mercifully end it just after midnight in Washington, D.C.
Final Score: 10-4 Nationals
Nationals now 63-63