Why do the Washington Nationals have the second-best record in the majors?
Because they hit and they pitch very well.
Ask the Arizona Diamondbacks, who had a front-row view to the fourth-best offense and second-best pitching staff in a series-opening 14-1 loss in front of an announced crowd of 17,518 at Chase Field on Monday.
The 14 runs were scored on 19 hits—all but five were singles—and five walks.
D-backs starter Archie Bradley, making his first career appearance against the Nationals, allowed eight of the runs and 12 of the hits—both season-highs, by the way—in 3.1 innings, marking his shortest outing of the season.
Bradley (4-7) never found a rhythm, giving up four runs in the first, two in the second and two more in the fourth.
Anthony Rendon drove in three runs and Wilson Ramos two.
By the third inning, all nine Washington starters had at least one base hit.
Perhaps no one swung the bat better than Stephen Strasburg—and he was pitching, too.
Strasburg went 3-for-4 with an RBI.
On the mound, he went six innings to earn his National League-leading 15th win, holding the D-backs to one run on three hits. He walked two and struck out six in a 99-pitch effort.
The 15 wins tied a career-high.
Strasburg, who retired 10 of 12 before he was removed from the game, threw a first-pitch strike to 21 of the 23 batters faced.
The win snapped the Nationals’ two-game losing streak.
The D-backs, on the other hand, have now lost four of five and 10 of 13 overall.
Once again, the D-backs plated a first-inning run. Jean Segura led off with a double, the ball landing just fair down the right-field line. Michael Bourn sacrificed him to third and Paul Goldschmidt brought him home with an RBI groundout, cutting the deficit to 4-1. It marked the 12th time in the past 14 games that the D-backs scored a run in the first inning. Also, Segura has now reached base safely in eight of his past 10 appearances when leading off a game, going 6-for-8 with a home run and two walks in that time.
Besides Segura, Chris Owings, who made his 10th start at shortstop, and David Peralta, playing right field, solved Strasburg. They each singled, Owings in the fifth and Peralta in the second. It was Peralta’s second hit in eight at-bats since returning from the disabled list following a lower back strain that sidelined him from June 15-July 28. Segura, meanwhile, went 1-for-2 with a walk. In the last 14 games since July 17, Segura is hitting .358 (19-for-53) with four doubles, three home runs, five RBI and five walks.
After Trea Turner flied out to center field to open the game, eight of the next nine Nationals batters reached base safely. There were five hits, all singles, and two walks sandwiched around a Rendon sacrifice fly, which scored Washington’s first run. Wilson Ramos, Clint Robinson and Danny Espinoza followed with RBI base hits to push the lead to 4-0. When the dust finally settled, 10 Nationals hitters batted in the 21-minute inning that saw Bradley throw 36 pitches. The four runs allowed matched Bradley’s past two-start total.
Another 28 pitches were thrown by Bradley in the second inning. This time, six National batters came to the plate with two scoring. It was Rendon again, driving in both Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy, who had each singled. Washington took a 6-1 lead. Rendon, by the way, not only has hit safely in 10 of his last 13 games but also has had at least one RBI in four consecutive games. Seven games into a nine-game road trip, Rendon has nine RBI, raising his season total to 45, tied with Jayson Werth for fifth-most on the team.
Two innings later, the Nationals nearly batted around again. Eight batters hit — five singled and one walked. Two scored. Ramos singled up the middle, knocking Bradley out of the game with one out in the fourth. That brought home Murphy. Strasburg then got involved, driving a Dominic Leone 3-1 offering into center field to plate Rendon to make it an 8-1 ballgame. The eight runs matched Washington’s output from their past two games. It was Strasburg’s second hit of the night, raising his average 36 points to .182.
Go ahead and add Randall Delgado’s name to the ever-growing list of bullpen woes. Called upon to pitch the eighth inning, Delgado recorded just one out, and that was the leadoff batter. From there, the next five batters reached base and scored. Pinch-hitter Wilmer Difo doubled home two while Turner tripled home two and Chris Heisey plated one with a sacrifice fly to make it a 14-1 ballgame. The five runs allowed were a season-high for Delgado, who entered the day having held the opposition scoreless in six of his last seven outings.
STAT OF THE GAME
28: The number of runs the D-backs have allowed in the past two games, the most they’ve surrendered in back-to-back games all season.
HE SAID IT
“Well, he just didn’t have it tonight,” manager Chip Hale said, referring to Bradley. “The location, getting ahead in the count, all the things that we teach. The balls were too middle, and they did a good job of hitting them. That’s a good lineup, and if you don’t have your location and your ability to get ahead in the count, it’s tough to face them. They punished him; a lot of hard contact. He threw a lot of pitches.”
– Welington Castillo committed his fourth error, dropping a foul pop-up in the fourth inning.
– Not until the seventh inning did the D-backs (Steve Hathaway) retire the Nationals in order.
– The Nationals finished 10-for-18 with runners in scoring position. The D-backs were 0-for-4.
– Wearing their home white uniforms with black gradient “A” cap, the D-backs are 3-7.
– With a first-pitch temperature of 98 degrees, the game was played with the roof closed.
– Diamondbacks OF/INF Mike Freeman was claimed by Seattle after he was designated for assignment July 30.
Looking to end a two-start losing streak, left-hander Robbie Ray, drafted by the Nationals, takes the mound in game two of the three-game series on Tuesday. He’ll be opposed by right-hander Tanner Roark, a 10-game winner.
First pitch is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. with pregame coverage beginning 40 minutes earlier on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.
Ray (5-10) dropped games at Cincinnati and Milwaukee; the latter saw him set a career-high with 11 strikeouts in a 6-4 loss in which he allowed five runs on five hits, including a home run, in 5.2 innings.
Ray, who will be making his first career appearance against Washington, co-owns the majors’ longest active streak—tied with Jose Fernandez—of 20 consecutive starts with five or more strikeouts. His 100 strikeouts since May 11 are fourth-best in the National League behind Max Scherzer (141), Fernandez (126) and Madison Bumgarner (115).
Ray was the Nationals’ 12th-round pick in 2010.
Roark (10-6), meanwhile, has won two of his past three starts, including his most recent outing, a 10-6 victory at San Francisco, where he held the Giants to one run on four hits with three walks and three strikeouts in seven innings, a mark he’s reached in six of seven starts since June 21.
Roark has yet to allow a run in 18.1 career innings—five games, including two starts—when facing the D-backs.
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