Things fell into place in about every conceivable way on Friday night at Fenway Park for the Washington Nationals. The Boston Red Sox entered the game in last place, but a game above .500 on the season. It’s not like they’ve been schlubs this year, but the Nats still walked away with a 7-3 Curly W for their 33rd on the season.
On the two-year anniversary of his remarkable 14 strikeout MLB debut, Stephen Strasburg proved to be too much for the Red Sox to handle though six innings. He struck out 13 batters an a career-high 119 pitches, and it was perhaps the best start of his MLB career. He gave up just two earned runs on four hits. Strasburg had his fastball between 97 and 100 mph in the early innings and got guys to miss at a remarkable rate.
Bryce Harper added another stellar storyline. After looking ridiculous in his first at-bat, he made quite an adjustment off of two lefty pitchers, Felix Doubront and Rich Hill. He hit the ball to all fields, and destroyed a two-run home run to deep center. He fell a triple short of the cycle, going three-for-five and raising his season batting average to a remarkable .288 and an .899 OPS.
Xavier Nady made an incredible play to rob Adrian Gonzalez of a home run in the bottom of the third. Nady reached over the short wall in right to make the catch and keep the Nats momentum going. Most don’t give Nady enough credit when he does something right, so here’s some credit where it’s due.
- Strasburg threw a ton of pitches through six innings, and he was dominating through most of it. He was obviously dead tired by the sixth inning, and his fastball velocity dropped to 94 mph toward the end. Davey Johnson has used Strasburg fairly liberally throughout the season, despite being on an unofficial innings limit. That will be one of the most fascinating storylines come September.
- Tyler Moore got his first start since returning to the big club, and he didn’t disappoint. He got great contact on a couple of balls and showed the power he’s capable of, although he didn’t hit a home run. I hope that Moore is worked into the lineup a bit more throughout this AL roadtrip, but if he’s not going to get at-bats, I don’t think he’ll ride the bench as long as he did during his first stint with the club. They’ll demote him before allowing that to happen again.
- Danny Espinosa is just way, way better from the right side of the plate than the left. I’m even happier about my prediction that Espinosa and Steve Lombardozzi will platoon at second base at some point this season now.
- Brad Lidge made his first appearance since returning from the sports hernia surgery, and it could have been better. He gave up a run on two hits to three batters and was quickly pulled in a save situation for Tyler Clippard. Lidge is an important piece for the backend of the Nats bullpen, and it’s important that he figures out how to be consistent.