Scott Olsen rebounded after a poor start last week to to pitch seven innings while allowing only six hits, no runs, and recording eight strikeouts against a strong hitting Dodgers club. Tyler Clippard and Matt Capps came in to close the door, helping complete the shutout and giving the Nationals a 1-0 victory to take the series from Los Angeles.
Olsen's success directly coincided with the return of his slider. The lefty, who had completely abandoned his slider in his last outing that saw him only pitch two innings tossed 10.1% sliders. 40% of his sliders were whiffed at and none were put in play. As it has been in the past, the slider still is Olsen's best pitch, which he clearly lives and dies on. Olsen's eight strikeouts Sunday dwarfed his previous season total of six, and helped him earn his first win since July 5, 2009.
Tyler Clippard came on in the eighth and held the Nationals 1-0 lead allowing no base runners. In his last three outings Clippard has recorded a Hold or a Win. The righty reliever has easily been the most valuable pitcher on the Nationals, as he is leading the team in wins and strikeouts out of the bullpen. He has not allowed a run in his last five outings. Capps came in in the ninth and earned his eighth save of the year. His velocity was slightly down as he pitched two innings the night before, but Capps was dominant yet again and is quickly proving to be a great value with the small contract he signed this offseason.
With the win the Nationals have now won seven out of their last 11 contests and improve to 10-9 on the season. They will head to Chicago tonight for a three game series against the Cubs before they get a well deserved day off. The club was 6-4 in their recent home stand, winning each series they played, all three of which were against teams who finished 2009 with a .500 or better record.