Game #31 Recap: Offense Lifts Nats Over Pirates

Stephen Strasburg took the hill against the very team he made his Major League Debut against, the Pittsburgh Pirates. Strasburg has had great success against the Pirates in his career, so there was reason to believe it would be a good day for the Nats. Jeff Locke would go to the mound for the Pirates and square off with Strasburg in the series opener.

Having had some trouble in the first inning, it was important for Strasburg to have a good one on Saturday. After a quiet top of the first for the Nationals, Strasburg nailed Starling Marte with a pitch to get to lead off the inning. Marte then stole second base, at which point he advanced to 3rd on an errant throw from Wilson Ramos. 2K's and a pop up would get Strasburg out of the first inning unscathed. The Nationals would then score a run in the top of the 3rd as Roger Bernadina would get hit by a pitch, then Strasburg reached on an error that allowed Bernadina to go to 3rd. Ian Desmond lifted a sac fly to bring Bernadina in and make it 1-0.

The Pirates would strike back in the bottom of the 3rd, unfortunately. A single by Clint Barmes then a home run from Marte put the Pirates up 2-1.  The next inning would show the Nationals were going to fight for every ince in this game, though. Ryan Zimmerman lead off with a triple, then was quickly brought in by Adam LaRoche on a sac fly to make it 2-2.

Later, in the bottom of the 5th inning, the Pirates would strike for the final time. Clint Barmes hit a 2 run homer to put the Pirates back up 4-2. The Nationals would fight back yet again, though, as Wilson Ramos drove in Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman to make it a 4-4 game with the bases loaded in the top of the 6th.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the day was Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche. Both Zimmerman and LaRoche drew 2 and 3 walks respectively, getting them both on base several times in this game. It was a hit by pitch that put Zimmerman on base in the top of the 9th inning. Immediately after, LaRoche drew his 3rd walk of the day putting runners at 1st and 2nd. With Tyler Moore in the box, manager Davey Johnson rolled the dice. Zimmerman and LaRoche pulled off a double steal to put runners at 2nd & 3rd with 1 out. Tyler Moore had come up with the bases loaded 2 other times in the game and had not been able to come through. Moore would poke a fly ball to right field and bring home Zimmerman to make it 5-4 Nats to wrap up the scoring on the day. Zimmerman accounted for 3 of the Nationals runs scored on the day.

Rafael Soriano came into the game to collect the save. Russell Martin started the inning by scalding a line drive to center field. Roger Bernadina was able to get to the ball quickly as Russell Martin was rounding 1st attempting to stretch the single into a double. Bernadina made a throw right on the money and Danny Espinosa was able to tag out Martin for the first out of the inning. Then a pop out and a strike out gave the Nationals the win and Soriano his 10th save of the season.

Strasburg ended up with a no decision, having allowed 4 runs, striking out 8, and allowing 1 walk over 7 innings. Locke gave up a base runners in the top of the 6th that allowed the Nationals to tie the score for the second time on the day. He allowed 4 runs (3 earned) while striking out 3 and walking 3 over 5 innings. Tyler Clippard picked up the win with a scoreless frame, while Tony Watson of the Pirates would take the loss.

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