Game #58 Wrap Up: Nats Sweep Sox
The Nationals started their series at Fenway Park on Friday having never won a single game in the historic ball park. On Friday night, the Nationals would get a stellar performance from Strasburg, a very good performance from Gio Gonzalez on Saturday, and another good performance from Jordan Zimmermann on Sunday afternoon. Despite an early run, the Nationals offense was a bit slow to take off against Jon Lester, but would eventually take the lead a then score the go ahead run when the Nationals rookie, Bryce Harper, made a pinch hitting appearance.
Jon Lester had just taken the mound and was beginning to pitch a baseball game, but Danny Espinosa had decided to greet the lefty with a leadoff double. Xavier Nady would then ground out, allowing Espinosa to take 3rd. Ryan Zimmerman would do everything he had to do in his at bat, which was put the ball in play. A ground ball to the third baseman, allowing Espinosa to score. That was all the Nationals would get off the Red Sox and Lester until the 7th inning. Down 2-1, Ian Desmond and Tyler Moore pulled off a double steal that would ensure both runners were in scoring position. Roger Bernadina would fail to execute the squeeze bunt, but Espinosa would come through yet again. Espinosa drilled a Jon Lester pitch off of the green monster allowing both Desmond and Moore to score, giving the Nationals the lead at 3-2. Jon Lester would go on to pitch 7 innings, giving up 3 runs on 6 hits, striking out 9 and walking 2.
Jordan Zimmermann had a very similar game to that of Lester. He pitched quite well and held the Red Sox offense at bay until the 3rd inning. Dustin Pedroia would ground out and the strong arms of the middle infielders Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa would have to be quick to get the double play. Unfortunately, Pedroia would just beat the throw by Desmond and Nick Punto would score, bringing the game to a 1-1 tie. An inning later, Jordan Zimmermann would miss high with a slider on David Ortiz, and Ortiz would make it a 2-1 ballgame on his 14th home run of the year. Unfortunately, after regaining the lead in the top of the 7th, Jordan would give up yet another run to make it a 3-3 ballgame. Both Ryan Sweeney and Nick Punto would hit singles to put runners on 1st and 2nd. Darnell McDonald successfully executed the sacrifice bunt to put runners at 2nd and 3rd. Podsednik would ground out to bring the run home and tie the ballgame at 3. Jordan Zimmermann's day would be 7 innings, 3 runs on 7 hits, with 7 strike outs, and 2 walks.
Having gone through the 8th inning with a few threats from the Red Sox, the Nationals would come to the plate. Ian Desmond would fly out, but then Davey Johnson would put in Bryce Harper to pinch hit. It was another fascinating situation for the young outfielder. In this situation, one would expect the young 19 year old to be swinging off his heels. He was not. Bryce Harper would go on to draw a walk to get on base. Nothing inherently special, just a walk. After Jesus Flores struck out swinging, Roger Bernadina came to the plate and would smack a double, but Bryce Harper had been running to steal and he made it home all the way from 1st and Bernadina made it to 3rd on the throw.
Tyler Clippard came in to close the ballgame out and try for his 8th save of the season. Clippard would strike out Punto, walk pinch hitter Kevin Youkilis, and then strike out Podsednik. With Dustin Pedroia in the batter's box, Tyler Clippard would throw a pitch that was called a strike. Pedroia was visibly upset and said his piece, but Red Sox Manager Bobby Valentine had more to say. Valentine would get thrown out of the game and after a long spat eventually leave. Shortly thereafter, Clippard struck out Pedroia to pick up the save.
The Nationals were successful in completing a sweep for only the second time this year. Having been in the position to do so several times, the Nationals have only swept a series 2 times this season. After sweeping Boston, the Nationals head north to Toronto to play against the Blue Jays.