Nationals fans like myself are particularly perky this Monday morning. Not because we stopped at Starbucks on our way to work (I actually don’t drink coffee), but because our first-place Nationals swept the Boston Red Sox in inter-league play over the weekend.
There really isn’t a big rivalry between these two teams – the Nationals hadn’t actually played the Red Sox before this weekend since 2006 – but any time a team can go to Fenway Park and take all 3 games from the home team (and their ardent and outspoken fans), it is a reason to celebrate and even get a little cocky.
In Friday night’s game, the Nationals beat the Red Sox 7-4 thanks to Stephen Strasburg’s 13 strikeouts in six innings and a home run by Bryce Harper (his sixth of the season). Strasburg is now 7-1 with a 2.41 ERA. On Saturday afternoon, the Nationals won that one 4-2 with the help of a home run by Adam LaRoche (his tenth) and stellar pitching from Gio Gonzalez (8-2, 2.35 ERA). And finally on Sunday, Roger Bernadina’s RBI double in the ninth gave the Nats a 4-3 victory (Bernadina’s double scored Bryce Harper from first base). In that game, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine was ejected in the bottom of the ninth inning
after arguing a call from home plate umpire Al Porter to second baseman Dustin Pedroia. The Nationals’ reliever-turned-closer Tyler Clippard, who earned his third consecutive save, struck out Pedroia to end the game.
So now what? Now the Nationals need to keep their momentum going as they go on to Toronto to face the Blue Jays, and then return to Nationals Park to face the New York Yankees. And while I’m not normally a fan of inter-league play, I will be there on Saturday afternoon, rooting for my Nationals while fulfilling my dream of watching Robinson Canó playing second base.
The Nationals need to stay healthy – Michael Morse and Brad Lidge are finally off the DL, and pitcher Drew Storen should be reactivated soon. But with their inconsistent offense, a lot falls on Strasburg, Gio, Jordan Zimmermann, Edwin Jackson, and Chien-Ming Wang (as well as their bullpen). And let’s not forget that Strasburg’s innings are limited since he’s coming back from his 2010 Tommy John surgery – he’s expected to be shut down sometime in August. So while Nationals fans revel in this past weekend’s sweep of the Red Sox, we also know that the season isn’t even halfway over, and a lot can happen between now and October.
About the Author
Written by Marien Hornyak
I was born and raised in Puerto Rico but have lived in the continental US for 22 years. I have a BS in Athletic Training and a MEd in Sport Management, where I did my thesis on "The History of Baseball Litigation." I am a wife, mother of 2, and self-proclaimed "Baseball Nerd." My favorite baseball players include Roberto Clemente, Kirby Puckett, and Iván Rodriguez.