Results tagged ‘ Milwaukee Brewers ’

What to Watch For: 9/22

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Milwaukee Brewers (78-72) vs. Washington Nationals (91-59)

RHP Wily Peralta (2-0, 2.14) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (19-8, 2.95)

 The Nationals have split the first four contests of their current seven-game homestand, and are looking to bounce back after last night’s loss to the Brewers. Gio Gonzalez takes the hill for Washington as he attempts to become the first 20-game winner in Nationals history.

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. Gonzalez LHP

VIEW FROM THE TOP

The Nationals own MLB’s best winning percentage at .607 thanks in part to a 42-25 (.627) mark since the All-Star break. Washington currently owns 0.5- and 2.0-game leads over the Reds and Rangers, respectively, in the race for the best record in MLB. The Nationals have either led the NL East or shared the top spot for 154 of the season’s 164 days. Only the Rangers (161) have enjoyed more days atop of their division in ‘12.

SEPTEMBER NORM

Washington is 11-8 in September and remains MLB’s only team to have played winning baseball every month this year: August (19-10), July (17-9), June (15-10), May (15-13), April (14-8). Including a 17-10 mark in September of ’11, Washington has posted six straight winning months.

D.C.’S DYNAMIC DUO

Thanks to DL stints, Ryan Zimmerman and Michael Morse have started only 89 games together, but in those 89 games, Washington is 60-29 (.674) and is averaging 5.1 runs per contest (455 runs, 89 games). When Zimmerman and/or Morse are not in Davey Johnson’s starting lineup this season, the Nationals are 31-30 (.508) and averaging 3.5 runs per game.

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What to Watch For: 9/21

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Milwaukee Brewers (77-72) vs. Washington Nationals (91-58)

RHP Shaun Marcum (5-4, 3.91) vs. RHP Edwin Jackson (9-10, 3.89)

The Nationals made franchise history Thursday night, becoming the first D.C.-based Major League team to qualify for postseason play since 1933. They open a four-game set with the Brewers – who are fighting for the final National League Wild Card spot – tonight at Nats Park, as Edwin Jackson takes the hill opposite Shaun Marcum.

NATIONALS LINEUP

1. Werth RF

2. Harper CF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Morse LF

6. Desmond SS

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Flores C

9. Jackson RHP

EDWIN SEEKS 10

Edwin Jackson takes his third shot at earning his 10th win season tonight vs. Milwaukee. If he notches the victory, he will become the fifth Nationals starter with a double-digit win total. For his career, Jackson is 3-2 with a 3.46 ERA in six starts against the Brewers. 

THE NEXT MAGIC MOMENT

Having clinched a spot in MLB’s postseason on Thursday, the Nationals now turn their attention to winning the NL East. Washington’s Magic Number to clinch the division title is eight.

ABOUT THOSE BREWERS…

The Nationals have not won a season series at the Brew Crew’s expense since going 5-1 in 2006. Washington is 7-5 in one-run games against the Brewers beginning in 2005. Since Milwaukee shifted to the NL, the Nationals/Expos and Brewers have played in six ballparks: Nationals Park, RFK Memorial Stadium, Olympic Stadium, Miller Park, County Stadium and Hiram Bithorn Stadium in Puerto Rico. Washington and Milwaukee are both former AL cities that have evolved into NL towns. The

Senators (AL East) and Brewers (AL West) were AL rivals in 1970 and ‘71. The Senators won the two-year AL series, 13-11.

DATE IN DC BASEBALL

September 21, 2010: The Nationals plate seven runs in the eighth inning – all with two outs – to surge past the Astros, 8-4. In the victory, Tyler Clippard posted his 10th relief win and became the first relief pitcher in D.C. baseball history to record 100 strikeouts in a single season.

September 21, 1961: Playing before only 1,498 fans, the Senators lose, 6-3, to (coincidentally) the Twins, in the final game played at Griffith Stadium.

September 21, 1933: With a 2-1 win over the visiting St. Louis Browns, the AL Nationals claim their third American League Championship in 10 years (also 1924, and ’25). Unfortunately, no D.C.-based big league club has won a pennant since.

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This Is Happening

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It’s only appropriate, on this last day of summer, that we can officially begin to discuss postseason baseball in Washington D.C. no longer as a “likelihood” or a “probability,” but as a reality. That’s the thing about the baseball season – a hot start is great, like the one the Nationals stormed out to by winning 10 of their first 14 games, but in the scope of a six-month marathon, it means very little. All the excitement of holding down first place is fantastic fun, but it does not mean anything until this time of year. There are no cheaply won postseason spots in our sport, and only sustained success over the duration of the spring and summer will lead to those meaningful games in October that Mike Rizzo, Davey Johnson and everyone around the organization have been talking about since Spring Training.

Yes, the National League East remains undecided, with a combination of eight Nationals wins and/or Braves losses still needed to determine the division crown. Beyond that lie the fight for home field advantage through the various rounds of the playoffs. These Nationals have taken nothing for granted so far this season, and you can be sure they won’t start now. Nevertheless, one indelible fact remains: there will be postseason baseball in our Nation’s Capital for the first time in 79 years.

Michael Morse celebrated as Ryan Zimmerman raced home on a wild pitch.

“What’s the big deal?” an exuberant Johnson jokingly questioned of the press corps, as fans watching his post-game press conference in the adjoining Lexus Presidents Club cheered his arrival.

The Nationals almost clinched their postseason spot Wednesday night in dramatic, surprising fashion, coming from nowhere to overcome a six-run, eighth-inning deficit, only to fall to the Dodgers, 7-6 in the ninth. While that would have been a game for the ages, long remembered by those who stuck it out to the end, it would have supported the script that is often preached, but not necessarily accurate, about this year’s Washington club, that all of this sudden success is a surprise. In actuality, it is the culmination of years of building the right way, from the ground up, and simply watching the pieces come together at the Major League level all at once. In a sense, it was much more fitting that the history was made thanks to a well-pitched, well-defended game, trademarks of a team that Washington fans have fallen in love with this season.

Drew Storen gave the game and the fans their endearing moment to cherish, as he faced the daunting middle of the Dodgers lineup – Matt Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez – holding a three-run lead in the ninth. The cushion would turn out to be more than enough. Storen painted a perfect, outside corner fastball to freeze Kemp, Wednesday night’s hero. He then handcuffed Gonzalez, the powerful lefty’s bat waving helplessly over a disappearing changeup. Finally, he blew away Nationals nemesis Hanley Ramirez – who owned a career .339 (147-for-433) mark with 27 home runs against the Nats coming into the at-bat – on a nasty slider to end it, pounding his mitt once and high-fiving catcher Kurt Suzuki in celebration.

Drew Storen struck out the side in the ninth to nail down the clinch.

“I didn’t even think about it until I saw it on the scoreboard afterwards,” said Storen of the clinching moment. “I was just having fun. The crowd was real into it. If you’re not out there having fun in that situation, you shouldn’t be out there.”

And though Storen provided the coup de gras, seemingly everyone chipped in. Ryan Zimmerman opened the scoring with a booming double to the left-center field gap, scoring Bryce Harper in the third inning. Danny Espinosa had an RBI-double of his own, and came in to score on a Suzuki sacrifice fly, the culmination of a hard-fought, professional at-bat. Ian Desmond and Jayson Werth each had a pair of hits, with the shortstop stealing one bag and the outfielder swiping a pair. As it has been all year with this team, you never know who the hero will be, and there were many of them Thursday night.

Ross Detwiler, meanwhile, continued to impress, and continued to show why this team has a real chance to make a deep October run. With six nearly flawless innings, in which a solo home run and a pair of singles were the only bumps in an otherwise smooth road to his career-best 10th victory, he quieted the powerful Dodgers lineup to put the Nationals in position to clinch.

Zimmerman and Werth celebrate the historic night.

“It was great seeing all of them on their feet,” the lanky lefty said of the crowd. “It really gives you the chills a bit to see how into it all of them were.”

Detwiler has consistently gone about his business, and though he is sometimes overshadowed by his teammates, there is no hiding his 6-3 record and 2.76 ERA in 13 starts since the All-Star break. He also became the fourth Nationals starter to hit double-digits in wins on Thursday, with Edwin Jackson sitting on nine victories heading into his start tonight against Milwaukee.

Speaking of those pesky Brewers, they are suddenly hot, and have clawed their way back into the race for the second National League Wild Card spot. In fact, the final four series on the Nationals schedule – Milwaukee, Philadelphia, St. Louis and Philadelphia again – all bring teams fighting for every game, their postseason lives at stake. Each game will be its own challenge, as the Nats try to wrap up the division. Those battles begin again tonight. But for today, at least, allow yourself to soak in the reality.

This is happening.

What to Watch For: 8/8

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Washington Nationals (67-43) vs. Houston Astros (36-75)

LHP Gio Gonzalez (13-6, 3.34) vs. RHP Armando Galarraga (0-1, 5.23)

The Nationals and Astros played their second consecutive extra-inning game, and for the second time, Washington came away a winner. Michael Morse’s leadoff double in the 12th extended his hit streak to 16 games and led to the winning run, and Roger Bernadina’s highlight-reel catch saved the day in a 3-2 final.

NATIONALS LINEUP

1. Lombardozzi 2B

2. Harper CF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Morse LF

6. Werth RF

7. Espinosa SS

8. Suzuki C

9. Gonzalez LHP

BERNADINA SHARKS VICTORY FROM JAWS OF DEFEAT

Danny Espinosa homered and provided all three RBI required for Washington to edge Houston, 3-2, on Tuesday in 12 innings at Minute Maid Park. With the potential tying and winning runs on base and two outs in the bottom of the 12th, Bernadina dashed over 125 feet to make a jumping catch at the wall, denying Brett Wallace’s bid for a game-winning double. By improving to 10-6 in extra-inning contests (5-1 since the All-Star break), Washington jumped a season-high 24 games above .500. With 11- and 12-inning victories here at Minute Maid Park the last two nights, the Nationals have won consecutive road games in extra innings for the first time since October 3-4, 2009 at Atlanta (6-4 in 11 innings, 2-1 in 15 innings).

IZTURIS MAKES DEBUT

Last night, Cesar Izturis became the 40th National to appear in a game this year when he pinch ran for Morse after he doubled in the 12th inning. Izturis would come around to score the eventual game-winning run on Espinosa’s RBI-single. Acquired via waiver claim from the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday, Izturis is hitting .235 with 2 HR and 11 RBI so far in 2012.

GIO VS. HOUSTON

Tonight, Gio Gonzalez will take to the hill for the first time at Minute Maid Park. He faced the Astros for the first time of his career in his third start as a National on April 17 in D.C. In Washington’s 1-0 win, Gio worked 7.0 scoreless innings and allowed just two hits. In his last outing, Gonzalez matched a season-high with 10 strikeouts without a walk in 8.0 innings against Miami on August 3.

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What to Watch for: 7/31

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Philadelphia Phillies (45-57) vs. Washington Nationals (61-40)

LHP Cliff Lee (1-6, 3.95) vs. RHP Stephen Strasburg (11-4, 2.76)

The Nationals are coming off their only off-day in a 34-day span following a road trip that saw them go 6-1 in New York and Milwaukee. They will take their MLB-best 61-40 record against a Phillies team that has just traded outfielders Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence and sits 16.5 games behind entering play on Tuesday.

NATIONALS LINEUP

1. Lombardozzi 2B

2. Harper RF

3. Espinosa SS

4. Morse LF

5. Moore 1B

6. DeRosa 3B

7. Flores C

8. Bernadina CF

9. Strasburg RHP

AND ON THE 7TH DAY …

Michael Morse hit a game-tying, two-run homer in the ninth and laced a game-winning, two-run double in the 11th to lift the Nationals to a stunning 11-10 victory over the Brewers on Sunday at Miller Park. Washington won for the eighth time in nine games despite trailing 3-1, 5-2, 7-3 and 9-7. The Nationals equaled their largest deficit (four runs) overcome to win (also: July 5 vs. Giants: down 5-1, W 6-5) this year.

THE WEEK’S DOCKET

The Nationals begin a key seven-game, six-day, homestand tonight with the first of three against the Phillies. From there, the Marlins invade for a four-game weekend set that includes a traditional 4:05pm twinbill on Friday, necessitated by an April 22 postponement.

TONIGHT’S MATCHUP 

Stephen Strasburg (11-4, 2.76) faces off against Cliff Lee (1-6, 3.95) tonight, the third start of his career against the Phillies. Note that Strasburg was the top pick in the 2009 draft of the Nationals, while Lee was a fourth-round pick of the Montreal Expos in 2000.

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A “Never Say Die” Weekend

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The Washington Nationals have made a name for themselves in the 2012 season by winning two different types of games. The first and more common type involves a healthy serving of solid starting pitching, a clutch piece of offense or two to snare the lead, and a lockdown performance by an ensemble bullpen. It is the kind of affair that the Nationals have found themselves involved in ever since their 2-1, Opening Day victory at Wrigley Field. But then there is that other kind of game, the nail-biting, nerve-fraying, mind-boggling variety that has made this season truly memorable.

This weekend’s matchups in Milwaukee provided one game from each mold. After splitting the first two of the four-game set with the Brewers, the Nationals sent hometown hero Jordan Zimmermann, originally from nearby Auburndale, Wisconsin, to make his first-ever start against the team he grew up supporting. The emerging ace delivered a sterling performance, allowing a single run on five hits, fanning six Milwaukee batters over six strong innings to extend his streak of throwing at least that many frames to 21 consecutive starts. In so doing, he lowered his ERA to the third-best mark in the National League at 2.28 and matched his career high with his eighth victory. He also improved to 4-0 with a 0.97 ERA in the month of July, during which he allowed just four earned runs and four walks while fanning 31 in 37.0 innings pitched.

Jordan Zimmermann finished off a spectacular month of July in his home state.

Meanwhile, the Nationals rookies came through with huge contributions again, as Corey Brown opened the scoring with a solo shot and Tyler Moore added a two-run bomb to provide more than enough cushion in a 4-1 final. In all, it was a solid, shutdown performance that both the team and the coaching staff could be proud of.

Then, there was Sunday’s game.

In a battle of 2004 first-round picks, it was the less-heralded Mark Rogers who seemed poised to best All-Star Gio Gonzalez, as Milwaukee had forged a 3-1 lead through five fairly normal innings. Right about then, all convention went out the window. The Nationals led off the sixth with back-to-back doubles from Ryan Zimmerman and Moore, cutting the lead to one and putting the tying run in scoring position with nobody out. But they failed to plate that tying run, and Milwaukee responded by scoring twice in the bottom of the frame to push the lead to 5-2.

In the seventh, Washington looked poised to strike again, using singles from Brown and Steve Lombardozzi followed by a walk from Bryce Harper (all rookies!) to load the bases for Zimmerman, again with none out. But Cody Ransom turned a slick 5-3 double-play, limiting the Nats to just a single run once more. And again, the Brewers came right back for two more runs in the bottom of the frame, sitting pretty with a 7-3 advantage though seven frames.

This is, as they say, about the time when things got really interesting. With one out and a runner on first, Roger Bernadina flipped an opposite field home run into the bullpen in left-center field to cut the margin in half. Jesus Flores followed with a single, Brown with a double, and Lombardozzi with an RBI-groundout to cut the margin to one and put the tying run at third with two outs. One wild pitch later, and it was suddenly tied at 7-7. But the Brewers were not about to go quietly. With one out in the bottom of the eighth, Norichika Aoki and Carlos Gomez blasted back-to-back shots, reclaiming a two-run lead.

For the fourth straight inning, the Nationals were looking uphill at a discouraging scoreline. And for the fourth straight inning, they mustered a rally. Mark DeRosa drew a one-out walk, bringing Michael Morse (featured in this homestand’s Inside Pitch… Pick one up at the ballpark!) to the plate as the potential game-tying run. After Milwaukee reliever John Axford forged ahead in the count, 1-2, his catcher set up low and inside for a fastball, anything to keep Morse from getting his arms extended. Axford missed his spot, leaving his pitch up and over the middle of the plate. Morse did not miss, sending the ball on a line over the right field wall, and once again, the game was tied.

Michael Morse unleashed Beast Mode twice – in the ninth inning to tie the game, and in the 11th to win it.

Craig Stammen kept Milwaukee off the board in the bottom of the ninth to force extra innings, and neither team scored in the 10th inning. In the top of the 11th, Harper walked and Zimmerman singled, bringing Morse to bat with a chance to summon Beast Mode one more time. He delivered once again, pulling a double just inside the third-base bag to score both runners. Tyler Clippard would allow a solo shot to Corey Hart in the bottom of the frame, but shut the door in time to lock down the victory, with Morse himself gloving the final out on a foul pop in front of the Brewers dugout.

The games of this second variety, of the seemingly impossible string of back-and-forth momentum swings, of comebacks from the proverbial dead, seem to keep reaching more and more epic levels of absurdity at every pass. Sunday’s contest lacked only the walk-off hit, as it took place away from Nationals Park, but may have once again set the bar as the most dramatic of them all so far.

Perhaps most importantly, it capped a 6-1 road trip that kept the Nationals a full four games ahead of division rival Atlanta as the weekend came to a close. It also left them at 61-40, the first time the franchise has been this many games over .500 since its relocation to the Nation’s Capital. The Nats get a well-deserved off day on Monday, their only such breather in a 35-day stretch that sees them play 36 games, including seven more in a six-day stretch at home beginning on Tuesday. A word to the wise: take advantage of the day off yourself. You’re going to need every ounce of energy you’ve got left for the final 61 games of the regular season.

In the meantime, enjoy Morse’s theatrics one more time (as even Davey lets himself loose at the 1:04 mark) and both Bob Carpenter’s and Charlie Slowes’ calls of the action.

What to Watch for: 7/29

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Washington Nationals (60-40) vs. Milwaukee Brewers (45-55)

LHP Gio Gonzalez (13-5, 3.13) vs. RHP Mark Rogers (NR, -.–)

Jordan Zimmermann continued his strong run of late with 6.0 innings of one-run ball on Saturday, and the Nationals used three home runs to guarantee no worse than a split of the four-game set with the Brewers. In today’s finale, Gio Gonzalez goes for his National League-leading 14th win of the season against the recently recalled Mark Rogers.

NATIONALS LINEUP

1. Lombardozzi 2B

2. Harper RF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Morse LF

6. Espinosa SS

7. Bernadina CF

8. Flores C

9. Gonzalez LHP

ZIMMERMANN, BROWN AND JOHNSON MAKE MEMORIES AT MILLER PARK

With the collective eyes of his native Auburndale, WI upon him, Jordan Zimmermann made his long awaited Miller Park debut a memorable one, earning the win as Washington bested the Brew Crew, 4-1, on Saturday evening. Zimmermann tossed 6.0 innings of one-run ball to register his MLB-leading 19th quality start in 21 assignments. Rookies Corey Brown (solo) and Tyler Moore (two-run) both homered during a decisive three-run third inning. Brown’s blast was also his first Major League hit, as he joined Justin Maxwell and Tommy Milone on the short list of Nationals (2005-present) whose initial big league hit was a home run. The win was the 100th of Davey Johnson’s 183-game tenure as Washington’s skipper.

CLASS OF 2004

Gio Gonzalez looks to collect his 14th win today against Milwaukee, a club he has yet to face in his career. He is, however, 3-1 with a 3.02 ERA in eight career starts against the NL Central. In his five starts against the NL Central in 2012, Washington is a perfect 5-0. Gio’s opposition, Mark Rogers, will be making his 2012 debut after going 6-6 with a 4.72 ERA in 18 starts for Triple-A Nashville of the Pacific Coast League. Both Gonzalez (38th overall) and Rogers (fourth) were among the top 40 selections in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft.

WHEN THE RUBBER HITS THE ROAD

The Nationals enter today’s series finale with an eye on winning their first series at Miller Park since 2006 and putting an exclamation point on what to date has been a 5-1 roadtrip (3-0 at NYM, 2-1 at MIL). The Nationals have outscored the Mets and Brew Crew this week, 30-15.

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What to Watch for: 7/27

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Washington Nationals (59-39) vs. Milwaukee Brewers (44-54)

LHP Ross Detwiler (5-3, 3.01) vs. RHP Mike Fiers (3-4, 1.96)

Using the strength of a four-run second inning, the Nationals jumped out to an 8-0 lead en route to an 8-2 victory in the series opener over Milwaukee Thursday night. Tonight, Washington sends southpaw Ross Detwiler to the hill against impressive rookie Mike Fiers as the Nats try to extend their winning streak to a season high seven games with a victory over the Brewers.

NATIONALS LINEUP

1. Lombardozzi 2B

2. Harper RF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Morse LF

6. Espinosa SS

7. Bernadina CF

8. Leon C

9. Detwiler LHP

ADAM’S BOMBS

With home runs in his last three games, including a solo shot last night, Adam LaRoche has homered in three straight games for the second time in his career. He also turned the trick August 17-19, 2009 while with Atlanta. LaRoche’s 19 homers pace all National League first basemen and he is on track to hit 20 or more homers for the seventh time in eight years.

ROARING ‘20S

At 59-39 (.602), the Nationals are 20 games above .500 for the first time since landing in D.C. in 2005. The last time a Washington-based big league club was 20 or more games above the break-even mark was at the completion of the 1945 season, when the Senators finished 87-67, but finished 1.5 games behind the Tigers (88-65) in the chase for the AL pennant.

THE JOY OF 6

The Nationals have outscored their opponents, 40-12, en route to matching their longest winning streak of the season (also, June 8-13). The Nationals last win streak in excess of six games came via an eight-game run, June 10-18, 2011. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Nationals are only the third team in modern baseball history (1900-present) to win six or more straight games while scoring at least five runs and allowing no more than two runs in each individual contest. The 1961 Yankees (6 games, June 4-8) and 1941 Red Sox (7 games, Sept. 9-15) also turned this trick.

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It’s The Little Things That Kill

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Sports are full of “firsts” and “lasts,” the types of facts and figures that allow us to place events in appropriate historical context. One of the most noted of these facts in baseball is that the Chicago Cubs have not won the World Series since 1908. What’s often forgotten is that the Cubs have also not won a pennant since 1945, a stretch of 67 years.

In that spirit, let’s go ahead and get the historical facts surrounding where the Washington Nationals stand today out of the way. The club will enter play this 27th of July, 2012 with a 59-39 record, matching the New York Yankees for the best record in the game. This marks the first time the Nationals have stood 20 games above the break-even point since their return to Washington in 2005. It is also the first time a Washington-based Major League Baseball team has been in such a position since the 1945 Senators finished their campaign at 87-67, the same year as that last Cubs pennant.

Steve Lombardozzi is now 4-for-5 with a double, triple and 8 RBI with the bases loaded in his young career.

In fact, at 59 wins the Nationals have already matched their season total from both 2008 and 2009, with 64 games still left to play.

And while all that is notable, games are still won day-to-day, moment-to-moment. It is the little things that continue to have a big impact for the Nationals. Take Thursday night’s game against the Brewers, for example. There was one very loud moment, which you probably remember, and a much quieter one that you may have missed, which turned the game.

The Nationals scored their first run on an Adam LaRoche solo shot, his third home run in as many games, coming on Yovani Gallardo’s first pitch of the second inning. That feat alone was impressive enough, but the fact that it came in lock step with MASN’s highlight package made it even more incredible. F.P. Santangelo had just finished detailing LaRoche’s previous blast as he stepped to the plate, describing the opposing pitcher’s location mistake as a “fastball right down the middle for a home run…” and crack. The ball sailed over the right-center field wall, LaRoche trotted around the bases, and Santangelo continued. “You are looking live, this is not the highlight package that we just showed.”

But it was when Roger Bernadina drew a two-out walk that the Nationals sprung at the opportunity to do some real damage. With the runner at first, the Milwaukee defense played batter Jesus Flores to pull the ball, moving the shortstop into the hole, and pulling the second baseman farther up the middle, assuming coverage of the base on a possible steal. Davey Johnson put on the hit-and-run, drawing the second baseman to the bag and opening up the right side of the infield for Flores, who swatted what would normally be a routine ground ball through the vacated infield dirt, Bernadina racing around to third on the single.

Following the play, Bob Carpenter and Santangelo remarked that Flores had already done his job in the inning. No matter the result, by reaching, Flores had gotten the pitcher to the plate, meaning that at the very least, leadoff man Steve Lombardozzi would lead off the third inning. But Gallardo was flustered by the turn of events, falling behind fellow pitcher Edwin Jackson at the plate 3-0 before walking him to load the bases. Lombardozzi then yanked a clutch, two-out triple inside of first base and down into the right-field corner, and the Brewers never responded.

Edwin Jackson continued to impress, both on the mound and on the basepaths.

Meanwhile, LaRoche’s bizarre kinship with his former teammate Jackson – with whom he also played in Arizona – continued, as he hit the seventh of his team-leading 19 home runs in a game that Jackson started. And Jackson continued the trend of superb starting pitching of late. In the last turn of the rotation, Nationals starters have allowed just three runs in 34.0 innings pitched, good for a 0.79 ERA.

For their troubles, the Brewers get lefty Ross Detwiler tonight, who is 1-0 with a 1.89 ERA this month. On Saturday, they will face Jordan Zimmermann, who will make his homecoming start in his native state of Wisconsin and currently sits at an otherworldly 3-0, 0.87 through his first four starts in July.

The Nationals, meanwhile, are looking at uncharted waters, a chance to not only push more than 20 games above .500 for the first time ever, but also to notch their seventh straight Curly W, which would mark the longest winning streak of the season. The Nationals have not won that many consecutive games since taking eight straight from June 10-18 of last year.

All of that talk can wait, though. For now the Nats will focus on getting one more baserunner on offense, one more out on defense, doing what they have done all year long. The best part? You can watch it all again tonight.

What to Watch for: 7/26

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Washington Nationals (58-39) vs. Milwaukee Brewers (44-53)

RHP Edwin Jackson (5-6, 3.73) vs. RHP Yovani Gallardo (8-7, 3.72)

The Nationals are coming off a three-game road sweep of the Mets and carry a five-game winning streak into tonight’s series opener in Milwaukee. Edwin Jackson takes on Yovani Gallardo in a battle of righties who have posted very similar results to date. Jackson and Gallardo have nearly identical ERAs, records and K/BB rates (2.52/2.44) so far this season.

NATIONALS LINEUP

1. Lombardozzi 2B

2. Harper RF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Morse LF

6. Espinosa SS

7. Bernadina CF

8. Flores C

9. Jackson RHP

THE STAKES AT HAND

If the Nationals win tonight’s series opener at Miller Park, they will match their longest winning streak of the season at six games (also: June 8-13) and move 20 games above .500. The last time a Washington-based Major League team was 20 or more games above the break-even mark was at the completion of the 1933 season, when the AL Nationals finished 99-53 en route to the World Series, which they would drop in five games to the New York Giants.

JACKSON VS. GALLARDO

Jackson is 2-2 with a 4.22 ERA in five career starts against Milwaukee, with three of those starts coming in August of 2011 (1-1, 4.95). In his last outing on Saturday vs. Atlanta, Jackson went 7.0 innings, allowing one run on five hits with two walks and struck out a season-high nine batters. His counterpart tonight, Gallardo, has notched wins in both of his two career starts against the Nationals at Miller Park.

SHARK WEEK

Roger Bernadina has hit safely in six straight games, including four multi-hit efforts along the way. During the streak, he is 12-for-23 (.522) with three RBI, two runs scored and two stolen bases. Dating to June 28, Bernadina is 20-for-43 (.465) with four RBI, five walks, six stolen bags and five runs scored, raising his OBP from .314 to .370 over that span.

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