December 4, 2021

Washington Nationals Game 27 Review: Nats offense pounds Phillies 7-1

WASHINGTON, D.C. – For the past half-decade, the Philadelphia Phillies have been the big dogs of the National League East, winning the division every year since 2007. As we all know, during the same time frame, the Washington Nationals have not been very good. However, signs of growth started last season, and the front office, led by general manager Mike Rizzo revamped the roster in order for them to be competitive in 2012.

Granted, the 2012 season is only a month, and a few days old; however, if the Nationals wanted to prove that they can contend with the big dogs of the league, a message was sent this weekend. For the second straight day, the Nationals defeated the Phillies, this time in dominant fashion, by a score of 7-1.

Yes, right now, the Nationals are the big dog in the National League East currently and are the hunted, instead of being the hunter.

Philadelphia, of course, is without superstars Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, which would provide a convenient cover to their struggles as they are mired with a mediocre 13-15 record. However, Washington is without Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche and Michael Morse.

Washington used superior pitching once again, plus timely hitting and the long ball to dispose of Philadelphia.

The Phillies now trail the Nationals by 5 ½ games in the National League East.

The Nationals, in a marketing campaign, which could either be described as beneficial, controversial or foolish – depending on what team you root for – wanted fans of the home team to fill up Nationals Park. The team made it difficult for fans outside Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia to purchase tickets and attempts to create a more partisan crowd got attention locally – and nationally.

Well, “Natitude Park” was close to being filled with an announced attendance of 39,496, which was evenly split between fans of Washington and Philadelphia; however, fans of the home team walked away happy when all was said and done on Saturday that ended up being cloudy.

Southpaw Gio Gonzalez (3-1, 1.72) put forth another solid effort, going seven innings and only allowing a run on seven hits. The only real mistake Gonzalez made came in the fourth inning as Carlos Ruiz plated in a run with a sacrifice fly to right, giving Philadelphia a 1-0 lead. Gonzalez also contributed to the offense and got his first career extra-base hit with a double.

After the fourth inning, the Phillies would not threaten at all again. The Nationals jumped all over Vance Worley – who had tossed four scoreless frames at that point – in the fifth inning.

They would rally and score four runs in the frame, which would decide the game, as Jayson Werth hit a three-run homer – his third – and Rick Ankiel plated in a run with a RBI-double. The inning only came to an end as Danny Espinosa – who was trying to score from second base – got nailed at home play by right Philadelphia fielder Hunter Pence’s strong throw.

Washington raised the score to 5-1 in the sixth inning as Ian Desmond hit a solo home run – his fourth of the season.

The Nats added two more runs in the seventh inning as Chad Tracy – in for the injured Adam LaRoche – clubbed a two-run homer to right field and gave them a seemingly insurmountable 7-1 advantage. The longball for Tracy was his second of the year.

The Nationals bullpen took care of the game from there as Ryan Mattheus tossed two scoreless innings in relief.

They got plenty of offense from Rick Ankiel, Steve Lombardozzi and Tracy, who each had three hits. Werth had two hits and scored twice.

Bryce Harper was 0-for-4, but walked once.

Philadelphia starting pitcher Vance Worley (2-2, 2.84) would take the loss. He lasted six innings and gave up five runs on eleven hits.

The three-game series concludes on Sunday as the Nationals attempt to go for the sweep. Both teams will be featured on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball at 8 p.m., and it will be the first appearance for the Nationals on the network since their home opener in 2008.

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