October 21, 2020

Washington Nationals Game 73 Review: Fister Pitches Gem in Nats’ 3-0 Win Over Braves

In front of a sellout crowd at Nationals Park on Saturday night, Washington Nationals pitcher Doug Fister tossed his best game of the season to help his team reclaim the NL East lead by beating the Atlanta Braves, 3-0.

To begin the game, Fister allowed Atlanta to have runners on the corner with just one out in the top of the first inning. After forcing Evan Gattis and Jason Heyward to groundout, Freddie Freeman and B.J. Upton were left stranded on the diamond. 

For Fister, that would end up being the most eventful inning of his outing.

In his ninth start of the season, the former Detroit Tiger threw eight shutout innings in which he gave up just five hits, one walk and struck out three. He was efficient with his pitches, needing just 117 to get through the night. His ERA fell to 2.65 on the year.

Pitching opposite of him for Atlanta, Julio Teheran was no slouch on the mound, either. In seven innings of work, Teheran gave up seven hits, three runs, two walks and struck out 10. Save for an Anthony Rendon (3-for-4, 2 RBI) single in the first inning, Washington couldn’t put anything together offensively until inning number three.

When you have two pitchers dueling on the mound, you have to play small ball and manufacture some runs. On Saturday night, that’s just what Washington was able to do. On several occasions, the Nationals used good strategy and smart play to create some offense.

With the game scoreless in the bottom of the third inning, Jose Lobaton (1-for-2, BB) singled to leadoff. Fister then followed with a well-executed sacrifice bunt to move him to second. Two batters later, Rendon singled up the middle to score Lobaton and put the Nationals on top, 1-0.

After pitching out of a jam in the first inning, Fister settled in and held Atlanta hitless from the second inning until the fifth when Andrelton Simmons singled. The following inning, the Braves put men on first and second, but Fister jammed Justin Upton to pop him out to end the inning.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Nationals struck again thanks to a little help from Teheran. After Adam LaRoche (1-for-3, BB) walked, he was then awarded second when home plate umpire Clint Fagan issued a balk to Teheran. With a man now in scoring position, Ryan Zimmerman (1-for-4, RBI) hit a hard grounder that snuck out of the infield and allowed LaRoche to score.

With a 2-0 lead, Fister then gave up a lead-off single to Chris Johnson to begin the seventh inning. Following that, he would retire the next six Braves to end his eight-inning gem.

For a little added insurance, Rendon recorded his second RBI of the day in the bottom of the seventh inning when he hit a double to straightaway centerfield to score Lobaton. The 3-0 lead would be plenty for the Nationals to hang on for the win.

Manager Matt Williams handed the ball over to closer Rafael Soriano to pick up his 16th save of the season. Soriano needed just 14 pitches to retire the side and give the Nationals the shutout victory.

With the win, Washington is now a half game ahead of Atlanta for first in the NL East. They’ll look to extend their lead back to the 1.5 game margin it was when the series began in Game 4 on Sunday afternoon. First pitch is set for 1:35 PM EST and the Nationals’ Tanner Roark and Braves’ Ervin Santana will be dueling on the mound.

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Brian Skinnell is a sports writer born and raised in the Washington, D.C.-metro area and covers the Washington Nationals, Wizards and MiLB for District Sports Page. He’s had work published on Yahoo Sports and Rant Sports, and has made several radio show appearances across the country to discuss his works. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+!

About Brian Skinnell

Brian Skinnell is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins, Nationals and college football. He is a born-and-raised follower of Washington, D.C. sports, “The” Ohio State Buckeyes and auto racing. A graduate of Shepherd University in December of 2014, he has a degree in Recreation and Leisure Studies with a Concentration in Sports Communications. Prior to joining District Sports Page (for his second stint), he spent time with Rant Sports, Yahoo Sports and the Washington Redskins. For his day job, he is an Editor for Team Velocity Marketing. Follow him on Twitter @Brian_Skinnell.

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