September 2012

What to Watch For: 9/6

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

Chicago Cubs (51-85) vs. Washington Nationals (84-52)

RHP Justin Germano (2-5, 5.52) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (9-8, 3.01)

Gio Gonzalez took a no-hitter into the sixth inning, and for the second straight night the Nationals rode six home runs to a victory over the Cubs, their third straight to open the series and fourth in a row overall. Jordan Zimmerman looks to rebound from his toughest start of the season tonight as Washington aims for the four-game sweep.

NATIONALS LINEUP

1. Werth RF

2. Harper CF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Morse LF

6. Desmond SS

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Suzuki C

9. Zimmermann RHP

YARD WORK

Washington launched six home runs, including a pair from Bryce Harper, during its 9-1 win over the Cubs. The Nationals, who homered six times the night prior, became the first team in MLB history to hit six or more homers in two straight home games. Between the homers Wednesday night and Thursday night, the Nationals became only the third team in MLB history to hit six or more home runs in each of two consecutive games. The Dodgers did so 6/29-30, 1996 at Colorado and the Angels turned the trick 6/3-4, 2003 at Montreal.

BRYCE’S BOMBS

With two home runs last night, Harper became the third teenager since 1918 to hit two home runs in a game twice in a season, joining Mel Ott and Ken Griffey, Jr. Harper has hit 17 home runs this year, behind only Tony Conigliaro (24) and Mel Ott (19) for most home runs as a teenager.

ADAMVP

Adam LaRoche clubbed his fourth home run in three games last night, hitting a solo shot off Chris Volstad in the third inning. LaRoche ranks among NL first basemen in home runs (first, 28), extra-base hits (second, 56), RBI (first, 90) and walks (tied-second, 56). Before he struck out in the seventh, LaRoche was 7-for-7 with two walks in his previous nine plate appearances.

- FOLLOW NATIONALS VS. CUBS LIVE -

Power Hour

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

Did you remember that the Nationals hit three home runs in one inning Wednesday night? With everything else that happened in the game, a dramatic feat became a footnote to the larger overall story. Nevertheless, the “Nat Trick” was an impressive occurrence that signified the team’s offensive breakout, which has seen the bats score 61 runs in their last eight games (7.6 runs per game) after scoring just six times total in a five-game losing stretch before that. Even more impressive than the raw numbers, though, is the fact that everyone is contributing.

Adam LaRoche has homered four times in the first three games of the series.

On Tuesday, Davey Johnson gave Bryce Harper the night off, allowing him to miss a lefty starter and affording Tyler Moore a chance for some at-bats. Moore responded with a towering home run to left, one of the team’s six on the night. On Wednesday, Johnson sat Jayson Werth, a night after his four-hit game. That gave Roger Bernadina a chance to start, and he rewarded his skipper with a home run of his own. Oh, and Harper? He returned to the lineup to swat a pair of longballs, his second two-homer game in a week.

In the past two games – in which the Nationals have only batted a total of 16 innings, due to their cancellation of the bottom of the ninth each night – eight different players have combined to club 12 home runs. Adam LaRoche has led the way with three clouts, while Harper and Desmond have both pitched in a pair and Bernadina, Danny Espinosa, Jesus Flores, Moore and Ryan Zimmerman have one each. Collectively, they are just the third team in the last 95 years to post consecutive six-homer games, joining the ’96 Dodgers and the ’03 Angels.

Not to be outdone, Gio Gonzalez returned to the mound for the first time since his first career shutout last Friday, and was even more dominant. The lefty carried a no-hitter with no walks – the only baserunner to reach early came on an error in the third inning – all the way into the sixth. In the end, he allowed just three hits over seven scoreless frames, fanning nine Cubs without issuing a walk. He stretched his scoreless streak to 16 innings, striking out 17 and allowing just 11 runners to reach base over that span.

While Gio tries to track down 20 wins, Jordan Zimmermann looks for his 10th Thursday night, which would be the first double-digit win total of his career. Saturday, it will be Ross Detwiler’s turn to do the same, and on Sunday, Edwin Jackson will look for his fourth consecutive season of 10 or more wins. Should each accomplish the feat this weekend, or at some other time over the season’s final four weeks, it will give each of the Nats five primary starters a double-digit total for the season.

Gio Gonzalez and the Nats staff are closing in on some milestone numbers.

This is all the more impressive when you consider the fact that last year, on a team that finished a respectable 80-81, John Lannan (who was recently called up for reinforcement down the stretch) was the only pitcher to reach that mark, winning exactly 10 games. For some perspective, not even the 102-win Phillies of 2011 managed to have five starters with 10 or more wins. In fact, the only four teams that turned the trick last year were Milwaukee, Tampa Bay, Texas and St. Louis – all four playoff teams, the final two of which battled it out for the World Series.

Really, that has been the narrative of the 2012 Nationals all season long, that the club’s depth, both on offense and on the pitching staff, is so solid. The storyline was somewhat obscured by the rash of injuries suffered by position players early on. But Cubs manager Dale Sveum commented after Thursday night’s contest that Washington is “by far the best team we’ve played all year.” At this point, the Nats are the best team that they have been all year as well, playing their most dominating baseball of the season down the stretch, when it matters most.

Enjoy the full dirty dozen of homers from the past two nights in the video below before the Nationals look for their fifth straight Curly W and a sweep of the Cubs later tonight.

What to Watch For: 9/5

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

Chicago Cubs (51-84) vs. Washington Nationals (83-52)

RHP Chris Volstad (2-9, 6.06) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (17-7, 3.10)

The Nationals matched a franchise record with six home runs, coming off the bats of five different hitters, as they cruised to an 11-5 victory over the Cubs Tuesday night for their fifth win in the first six games of their current 11-game homestand. Gio Gonzalez takes the hill on the heels of his first career shutout as he looks for his career-high 18th win.

NATIONALS LINEUP

1. Bernadina CF

2. Harper RF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Morse LF

6. Desmond SS

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Suzuki C

9. Gonzalez LHP

ABOUT THOSE HOMERS LAST NIGHT…

Ian Desmond hit a two-run, first-inning home run and Adam LaRoche went deep twice to spark a six-homer barrage. The Nationals became the first team representing the Nation’s Capital in 79 years of modern (1901-present) baseball (6,124 games) to hit more than four homers in a home game. The six homers also matched a Nationals (‘05-present) single-game mark (May 20, 2011 at Baltimore). Washington matched a season high with 11 extra-base hits, as all nine Nationals starters tallied at least one hit.

LAROCHE KEEPING ELIAS BUSY

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, with his 4-for-4, two-home run effort last night, LaRoche is the third Nationals player to go 4-for-4 or better with two homers in a game. The other to do it were Nick Johnson on April 20, 2006 (4-4, 2B, 2 HR, 3 RBI, BB, 2 R) and Josh Willingham on August 25, 2009 (4-4, 2 HR, 6 RBI, BB, 5 R). LaRoche ranks among National League first basemen in HR (first, 27), RBI (first, 87), SLG (third, .498) and OPS (third, .834).

START ME UP

Gonzalez is coming off the first shutout of his career in Friday’s 10-0 win vs. St. Louis. He struck out eight along the way en route to his second complete game in five starts. With 17, has already established a Nationals single-season record for wins, besting Livan Hernandez’s 15-win campaign in 2005. The last DC-based pitcher to win 18+: Bob Porterfield (22 in 1953).

DATE IN DC BASEBALL

September 5, 2011: Desmond (first-inning leadoff homer), Michael Morse (third career multi-homer game) and Jayson Werth (18th of the season) combined on three first-inning home runs, four total in the game, as Washington powered past the Dodgers, 7-2, at Nationals Park.

- FOLLOW NATIONALS VS. CUBS LIVE -

What to Watch For: 9/4

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

Chicago Cubs (51-83) vs. Washington Nationals (82-52)

LHP Chris Rusin (0-1, 1.80) vs. RHP Edwin Jackson (8-9, 3.53)

The Nationals rode seven scoreless innings from Ross Detwiler to a 2-1, series-opening victory over the Cubs on Monday, their fourth win in the first five games of this homestand. They will look to Edwin Jackson to keep the momentum in their favor tonight, as he makes his first start since his magnificent, eight-inning, 10-strikeout performance last Thursday.

NATIONALS LINEUP

1. Werth CF

2. Desmond SS

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. Morse RF

5. LaRoche 1B

6. Espinosa 2B

7. Moore LF

8. Flores C

9. Jackson RHP

ELIAS SAYS…

Adam LaRoche clubbed his 25th home run of the season yesterday, a solo shot off Jeff Samardzija. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, LaRoche is one of four current MLB players who have had 25-homer seasons for four different MLB teams. Also hit 32 for the 2006 Braves, 25 for the ‘08 Pirates and 25 for the ‘10 Diamondbacks. The other players on that list are Adrian Beltre (Dodgers, Mariners, Red Sox and Rangers), Alfonso Soriano (Yankees, Rangers, Nationals and Cubs) and Jim Thome (Indians, Phillies, White Sox and Twins).

THIRTYSOMETHING

By closing out Monday’s 2-1 win, Tyler Clippard became the third National to reach the 30-save plateau, joining Chad Cordero (47 in 2005, 37 in ‘07) and Drew Storen (43 in ‘11). Clippard also became just the third pitcher ever to record 30 saves and 10 holds in a single season. Clippard’s 30-save, 10-hold predecessors were Kerry Ligtenberg (30 saves/11 holds for Atlanta in ‘98) and Ugueth Urbina (32 saves/11 holds for Texas and Florida in ‘03)

MIDDLE MEN

Five games into this 11-game homestand, Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa are a combined 16-for-38 (.421). Desmond (8-for-20) has hit safely in five of his last six games, all of which were multi-hit efforts. His RBI-single propelled the Nationals to the victory on Sunday afternoon. Espinosa (8-for-18) has hit safely in five straight and has notched six hits in his last nine at-bats.

- FOLLOW NATIONALS VS. CUBS LIVE -

The (Other) Other Guys

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

Frequent readers of Curly W Live may remember that we already used the title The Other Guys for a piece earlier this year, when detailing many of the overlooked performances in Washington’s three-game road sweep of the Red Sox at Fenway back in June. However, we felt compelled to go back to the well when discussing the recent accomplishments of Edwin Jackson and Ross Detwiler, and with good reason.

Following Detwiler’s latest gem, a scoreless, seven-inning effort that saw him allow just four hits and three walks while earning his ninth victory, the shaggy-haired southpaw set up shop in front of his locker in the home clubhouse, awaiting the post-game media scrum. As the cameras flipped on their lights and began rolling tape, he pointed over his left shoulder at a small poster that was taped into the upper-right corner.

Things are looking up for Ross Detwiler in the second half of the season.

“Make sure you get that in the shot,” he said with a wry smile.

The poster was a photoshopped version of the movie poster from the buddy cop comedy “The Other Guys,” starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg. The image showed two men jumping through the air, double-fisting pistols, with Detwiler and Jackson’s heads (complete with Nationals road caps) plastered over the original stars.

“Edwin’s fiancée emailed them to my fiancée,” explained Detwiler of the origin of the photo. “Then she sent it to me, I forwarded it to (Nats Advance Scouting & Video Coordinator) Erick Dalton and he printed it out for me.”

Sure, the photo is a funny joke, one of the light-hearted pieces of humor that keeps a clubhouse fresh and relaxed during a long season full of both immediate and long-term pressure. But this particular piece meant a little more. Detwiler and Jackson really are those “other guys,” the oft-overlooked pair in the rotation, despite their success this season. To put their value in perspective, try to identify the members of the starting rotation by their ERA, opponents batting average, and strikeout-to-walk rates since the team opened its first homestand of the second half of the season on July 17:

  1. 2.79 ERA (19 ER/61.1 IP), .220 BAA, 2.38 K/BB
  2. 3.41 ERA (23 ER/60.1 IP), .241 BAA, 2.33 K/BB
  3. 2.79 ERA (16 ER/51.2 IP), .226 BAA, 3.65 K/BB
  4. 3.51 ERA (20 ER/51.1 IP), .224 BAA, 3.75 K/BB
  5. 4.28 ERA (23 ER/48.1 IP), .278 BAA, 4.20 K/BB

Honestly, you would have no idea which pitcher was which. Sure, you could try to make some educated guesses, but they would most certainly be guesses, without looking up the numbers yourself. For the sake of time, we’ll just go ahead and tell you that the rotation is listed alphabetically by last name: Detwiler, Gonzalez, Jackson, Strasburg, Zimmermann. The so-called “other guys” share an identical 2.79 ERA in that span. Detwiler owns the lowest opponents batting average, with Jackson’s 62 strikeouts leading the staff over that stretch.

The point, obviously, is to take nothing away from the front end of the rotation, merely to point out that the front of the Nationals rotation never really ends, not when they have other guys like Jackson and Detwiler throwing every fifth day. But even more so, it’s the willingness of those guys to own their role, content with knowing that they will play just as big a part as any of their other rotation mates in Washington’s success down the stretch and into October.

What to Watch For: 9/3

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

Chicago Cubs (51-82) vs. Washington Nationals (81-52)

RHP Jeff Samardzija (8-12, 4.03) vs. LHP Ross Detwiler (8-6, 3.32)

After taking three of four from the Cardinals to open the homestand, the Nationals host the Chicago Cubs for a four-game set beginning this afternoon in D.C.  Washington hands the ball to Ross Detwiler in hopes for a better showing against Jeff Samardzija, who handed the club its first loss of the season back in April.

NATIONALS LINEUP

1. Werth RF

2. Harper CF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Morse LF

6. Desmond SS

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Suzuki C

9. Detwiler LHP

WELCOME TO D.C.

The Nationals today selected right-handed pitcher Christian Garcia and left-handed pitcher Zach Duke from Triple-A Syracuse. Additionally, the Nationals transferred right-handed pitcher Henry Rodriguez to the 60-Day Disabled List. Garcia converted all 21 save opportunities with a 2-1 mark and 0.86 ERA in 45 relief appearances this season with Syracuse and Double-A Harrisburg. In 27 appearances with the Chiefs, Garcia went 1-1 with 14 saves, a 0.56 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 32.1 innings pitched. The 27-year-old Garcia went 22-20 with 22 saves and a 3.22 ERA in 124 games/56 starts during seven seasons in the minor leagues, posting 10.1 strikeouts per 9.0 innings (414 K/369.0 IP) during that stretch.

Duke went 15-5 with a 3.51 ERA in 26 starts this season with Syracuse. His 15 wins lead all International League pitchers and matched the highest single-season win total by a Nationals farmhand (Brad Peacock, 15 wins for Syracuse in 2011). The 29-year-old went 4-0 with a 2.16 ERA over his final six starts with the Chiefs, posting 29 strikeouts and just five walks in 41.2 innings pitched. In seven big-league seasons, Duke is 48-74 with a 4.56 ERA in 181 games/168 starts with Pittsburgh (2005-10) and Arizona (2011). In 2009, he won a career-high 11 games and represented the Pirates at the All-Star Game in St. Louis.

GOOD WOOD

While tallying a 4-1 record the last five games, Washington has averaged 7.8 runs per contest. In the same five-game span, the Nationals are hitting .339 (62-for-183) with five doubles, a triple, nine home runs and 13 walks. Those five-game numbers include a .429 (18-for-42) mark with RISP.

SERIES NOTES

The Nationals are 23-25 in eight seasons against the Cubs. The Cubs have hit 11 more home runs (50-39) than the Nationals in the series. However, the Nationals are 11-7 in one-run games against CHI, including a 6-3 mark at in D.C. Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano’s magical 2006 season with the Nationals included a franchise-record 46 home runs. Davey Johnson hit .306 (15-for-49) for the Cubs in 24 games in 1978 and he played his last game in a big league uniform at Wrigley Field on September 28 of that year vs. the Mets.

- FOLLOW NATIONALS VS. CUBS LIVE -

Not So Minor Accomplishments

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

The Nationals announced their Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year Awards prior to Monday’s game against the Chicago Cubs, and the names should come as no surprise to those who follow the Washington farm system closely. Infielder Matt Skole – who tore up the South Atlantic League before a late-season promotion to Potomac – and right-handed pitcher Nathan Karns, who largely did the same, took home the honors.

Matt Skole put up prolific numbers all season.

Skole was tremendous all season long, batting .292 with 28 doubles, a league-leading 27 home runs, 83 runs scored, 104 RBI and a .438 on-base percentage in just 118 games for Low-A Hagerstown while playing third base. After we profiled him here on Curly W Live, he went on to win the league’s Most Valuable Player Award, despite his mid-August promotion to the Carolina League. He continued to show his abilities at the next level, posting a slash line of .324/.356/.500 including seven multi-hit performances in 17 games heading into Monday’s season finale.

Karns, meanwhile, posted an organizational-best 2.17 ERA and an 11-4 record in 24 games (18 starts) for the Suns and P-Nats. His promotion came earlier in the season, after just 11 games with Hagerstown, that saw him go 3-0 with a 2.26 mark. He continued to impress at Potomac, twice winning Carolina League Pitcher of the Week honors. Karns led all Nationals farmhands with 148 strikeouts, and posted an eight-game winning streak over a nine-start span, logging a 0.94 ERA from June 15 to August 2.

Skole follows Tyler Moore (’10) and Steve Lombardozzi (’11) as a recipient of this award. Other notable former Minor League Pitchers of the Year include John Lannan (’07) and Jordan Zimmermann (’08). The pair will be honored for their accomplishments during an on-field ceremony prior to Friday’s 7:05 p.m. contest against Miami.

What to Watch For: 9/2

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

St. Louis Cardinals (72-61) vs. Washington Nationals (80-52)

RHP Jake Westbrook (13-10, 3.94) vs. RHP Stephen Strasburg (15-6, 3.05)

The Nationals have taken two of the first three games of their first meeting with the defending World Series Champion Cardinals, and will look for a series win with Stephen Strasburg on the hill for the Sunday matinee.

NATIONALS LINEUP

1. Werth RF

2. Harper CF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. Morse LF

5. Tracy 1B

6. Desmond SS

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Suzuki C

9. Strasburg RHP

80 AND COUNTING

With 80 wins in the bag, the Nationals have already matched their win total from last season when they finished 80-81. Only three other MLB clubs have already reached or surpassed their victory total from 2011: Baltimore (+4 wins compared to 2011), Cincinnati (+2) and Oakland (+1).

KEEPING SCORE ON THE SEASON

The Nationals are tied for the MLB lead in run differential. MLB’s top three: Washington (+112), Texas (+112) and St. Louis (+97). The Nationals have allowed the fewest runs (474) in MLB.

GOOD WOOD

Despite Saturday’s 10-9 setback, the Nationals continued their recent offensive surge. While tallying a 3-1 record the last four games, Washington has averaged 8.8 runs per contest. In the same four-game span, the Nationals are hitting .333 (49-for-147) with five doubles, a triple, eight home runs and 12 walks. Those overall numbers include a .429 (15-for-35) mark with RISP. The Nationals pace the NL having scored 238 runs since the All-Star break.

- FOLLOW NATIONALS VS. CARDINALS LIVE -

What to Watch For: 9/1

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

St. Louis Cardinals (71-61) vs. Washington Nationals (80-51)

RHP Kyle Lohse (14-2, 2.64) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (9-8, 2.63)

On the heels of dominant pitching performances by both Edwin Jackson and Gio Gonzalez, the Nationals send Jordan Zimmermann to the mound Saturday afternoon in search of their fourth consecutive win and third in a row to open their series with the defending World Champion Cardinals.

NATIONALS LINEUP

1. Werth RF

2. Harper CF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Morse LF

6. Desmond SS

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Suzuki C

9. Zimmermann RHP

OH, WHAT A NIGHT!

Gio Gonzalez scattered five hits and three walks to notch his first career shutout (in career start #116) as the Nationals blanked the Cardinals, 10-0, on Friday at Nationals Park. Gonzalez fanned eight while tossing Washington’s first complete-game shutout since Livan Hernandez turned the trick, coincidentally in a 10-0 home win over St. Louis, on June 15, 2011. Jayson Werth reached base in all five plate appearances, going 3-for-3 with a double, an RBI, three runs scored and two walks. Washington equaled its ‘11 win total with the victory.

AUGUST IN REVIEW

Washington posted the National League’s best record in August at 19-10. The corresponding .655 winning percentage the Nationals best in a single month this season and was the first winning August since the team moved to D.C., with 17 of the month’s 29 contests coming against NL East foes. The Nationals outscored their opposition, 137-98, on the month and their +39 run differential paced the NL and ranked fourth in MLB (Tampa Bay +52, Oakland +44, Texas +40). Washington entered August with a 2.5-game lead in the NL East and exited with an advantage of 6.5 games over second-place Atlanta.

DATE IN D.C. BASEBALL

2005: Ryan Zimmerman is promoted to the big leagues, becoming the first player drafted and developed exclusively by the Nationals to reach the Major League level. Zimmerman is also the first player selected in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft to reach the big leagues. That night, at Turner Field, Zimmerman dons uniform #25 and, facing Jim Brower, strikes out in the seventh inning while pinch-hitting for Jason Bergmann. The Braves win the game, 8-7, in 10 innings.

2008: Tim Redding rides a no-hitter into the sixth and settled for his 10th win as the Nationals post their seventh consecutive win in a 7-4 home triumph over the Phillies.

- FOLLOW NATIONALS VS. CARDINALS LIVE -

Lasting Lessons

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

The last time Gio Gonzalez had faced the Cardinals before Friday night was on March 22 of this year, in a Spring Training affair in Jupiter, Florida. The lefty had been Washington’s most consistent starter in the Spring to that point, but on that afternoon, he was touched up for his worst start of camp and the Nationals were shut out, 9-0, extending a stretch of nine games without a Grapefruit League win. Afterwards, Gonzalez put the outing in the proper perspective, and it turns out, so did we. Here is the excerpt of his quote and our follow-up thought following that game.

“You’re going to have some of those days,” he said. “The great part about today was that it was Spring Training.”

And if a rough outing in March can translate into a smooth start in August or September against the defending champs, well, the Nationals will certainly take that trade-off.

Gio gets the royal treatment after his first career shutout Friday night.

Well, it was August, but only by a day. Gonzalez turned in arguably the best start of his life Friday night, allowing just five hits while fanning eight Cardinals batters in his first career shutout. The Nationals offense took care of the rest, breaking the double-digit run barrier for the seventh time this season, but it was Gonzalez’s monster, 119-pitch effort that defined the victory. Afterwards, he was his usual, humble self, deflecting credit to teammates for excellent offensive support, but also for a stellar defensive effort –in which the Nationals turned three double plays and made a number of other athletic plays in the field – which was largely overlooked.

That got us thinking: remember that five-game losing streak the Nationals endured earlier this week? It seems as distant a memory as that nine-game winless streak in the Spring, certainly much more than just three days since Washington snapped out of its funk. In that span, the team has put together three consecutive complete performances, outscoring opponents by a grand total of 26-5 in a trio of victories. And while the offense has broken through in a big way to key that turnaround, the pitching has truly stood out.

The offense has found its rhythm as well as we enter September.

It is only fitting that as the Nationals enter September and their final 30-game stretch of the regular season, it is once again their starting pitching leading them to the finish line, just as it did when the season began. Both Gonzalez and Edwin Jackson, the two offseason acquisitions brought in to bolster a staff already flush with homegrown talent, made their impacts felt immediately in their first home starts in April. Gonzalez, handed the ball for the home opener, responded with 7.0 innings of two-hit, shutout ball. Two days later, Jackson delivered a complete game masterpiece, allowing just a run and two hits. Don’t forget that those two performances were delivered against the only team in baseball with a better record than the Nationals, the Cincinnati Reds.

And so, here we are again with Jackson throwing eight spectacular innings on Thursday night, only to have Gio one-up him with a five-hit shutout just 24 hours later, both against the defending World Series Champions.

With the Braves squandering a ninth-inning lead late Friday night in an extra-inning loss to widen the NL East gap to six and a half games, the Nationals have nine more chances this homestand to continue to build on their momentum in the season’s final month.

Jordan Zimmermann, it’s your turn.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 549 other followers