SPAN DOUBLES TO EXTEND STREAK TO 23 GAMES, SECOND LONGEST IN MAJORS THIS SEASON
Every single game matters for the Washington Nationals at this point as they valiantly try to keep their scant playoff hopes alive. In a Thursday matinee, the Nats beat the Mets 7-2, sweeping the four-game set. It was the Nats sixth win in a row overall, their longest winning streak of the season.
The Nats (77-69) out-homered the Mets in the series 13-0, the second-most homers the Nats have hit in any single series. They are now 5 1/2 games behind the Cincinnati Reds in the wild card standings with 16 games to play and one game yet in hand.
Tanner Roark, making his second start since his recall, gave the Nats six solid innings wrapped around an hour-long rain delay for his sixth win of the season against no losses. He allowed two earned runs on six hits and one walk, striking out three.
The Nats got started early in this one. After Denard Span struck out to lead off the game, Ryan Zimmerman delivered a bomb to straightaway center off the Mets’ recently acquired starter Aaron Harang for his 23rd of the season and his eighth home run in his last 10 games to put the Nats up 1-0.
The Mets got that run right back against Nats’ starter Tanner Roark. Eric Young, Jr. led off with a single and went to second on a sacrifice by Juan Lagares. Daniel Murphy then doubled to bring home Young to tie the game at one.
Then the rains came.
An hour-plus rain delay ensued, and when play resumed, Harang came back in to pitch for the Mets. Maybe he wished he hadn’t.
The first batter back, Ian Desmond took one to the wall that was caught. The following batter, Adam LaRoche, then rocked one that appeared off the top of the wall and he cruised into second base with a double. But upon video review, the ball struck a railing above the home run line and bounced back into play off center fielder Young’s glove and the umpires ruled it a home run to make it 2-1 Nats.
The Mets tied it in the fourth. Lucas Duda led off with a single to right field. With one out, Mike Baxter singled to left to move Duda up one base. Catcher Anthony Recker followed with another single which plated Duda easily, but Harper threw out Baxter trying to advance to third on the play.
Wilson Ramos delivered the lead back to Washington in the fifth inning with a solo home run, his 13th of the season.
The Nats added insurances run in the seventh and eighth.
LaRoche led off the seventh with a double to center. After a pitching change, Ramos grounded out to the pitcher. But because Mets third baseman Josh Satin came in on the slow infield grounder, LaRoche snuck behind him and advanced to third. Anthony Rendon then lifted a fly ball to medium center field that plated LaRoche without a throw.
Span led off the eighth inning with a double to extend his hitting streak to 23 games and Zimmerman plated him with a double of his own to make it 5-2.
Reliever Frank Francisco then hit Jayson Werth with a 3-0 pitch. Bryce Harper’s grounder to the right side forced Werth at second but moved Zimmerman over to third and he scored on Ian Desmond’s grounder to short when Harper’s hard slide forced a bad throw by Ruben Tejada on the relay.
Anthony Rendon added to the hit parade in the ninth with a line drive home run to left field, his seventh of the season.
THE GOOD: Tanner Roark. The swingman put together another impressive starting performance, perhaps tossing his hat into the ring with the other candidates that could be considered for the fifth starter spot next season.
Also, props to reliever Xavier Cedeno, who struck out lefties Daniel Murphy and Lucas Duda on six pitches in a scoreless eighth inning.
THE BAD: Jayson Werth. 0-for-3 with three strikeouts. Average dips to .324 in his chase for the batting title.
THE UGLY: Frank Francisco. The pitch he hit Werth with was definitely intentional. There was simply no reason for Francisco to bean Werth there except being mad at himself for stinking up the joint. Mets television commenter and former MLB pitcher Ron Darling called Francisco “a fool.”
THE STATS: 8 hits, 1 BB, 11 Ks. 1-for-4 with RISP, 3 LOB. No errors, no DPs.
NEXT GAME: Friday at the Philadelphia Phillies at 7:05 pm. Stephen Strasburg (7-9, 2.96) faces Kyle Kendrick (10-12, 4.51).