Postgame analysis of the Nats' 9-1 win over the New York Mets on Thursday night at Citi Field.
How it happened: Thursday was such a bad day for Matt Harvey that even Bryce Harper got a hit off him.
After going hitless in his first 24 career plate appearances against the Mets pitcher, Harper finally broke that curse with a single in Thursday's Nationals win over New York. But that was just one of many blows against the one they call the Dark Knight of Gotham, as Harvey suffered the worst beating of his MLB career. The Nationals scored nine runs off Harvey, who exited in the third inning in what ultimately ended a 9-1 blowout win for Washington.
The Nationals continued their best start in team history by moving to 25-16. They have now won four of their last six against New York dating back to last season.
What it means: The Nationals have struck first by winning the first series against the Mets of 2016. The two teams will face each other again in just four days when the Mets come to Nationals Park for a three-game series beginning Monday. The second game of the series is set for a Strasburg vs. Harvey rematch, which could be interesting.
Harvey's worst day ever: Harvey had been struggling this season, but he hadn't experienced anything quite like this. It was the worst game of his career by several accounts. The nine runs - eight of them earned - were the most he's ever surrendered. It was also the shortest outing of his career at just 2 2/3 innings. Harvey began the day with an unsightly 4.93 ERA and then saw that number balloon to 5.77. Harvey gave up eight hits, walked two batters and served up a first inning homer to former teammate Daniel Murphy. It was an overall disaster for Harvey and one that earned him some boos from the Mets faithful. Murphy, by the way, now has six homers in 40 games this season. It took him 75 games to reach that mark in 2015.
Strasburg carves again: Harvey may have had a terrible night, but Stephen Strasburg was once again dominant for the Nats. He went six innings with one run allowed, one walk and 10 strikeouts. It was the 25th double digit strikeout game of his career and his fourth this season. Only two pitchers have had more double digit strikeout games since Strasburg debuted in 2010: Clayton Kershaw (44) and Madison Bumgarner (27). Strasburg since returning from the disabled list last July now holds a 2.20 ERA with 185 strikeouts in 143 innings pitched across 22 starts. That's Cy Young-level stuff. The Nats have won each of Strasburg's last 13 starts, which is a new franchise record.
Nats set a record in the third inning: Harvey was bounced in the top of the third as the Nats posted seven runs in the frame to set a team record for runs in an inning against the Mets. The Expos did that five times in matchups with New York, but this is a first for the Nats. It was also the first time this season the Nats have sent 11 batters to the plate in one frame. One run came home on a groundball by Ryan Zimmerman that Asdrubal Cabrera botched at shortstop for an E6. Two more came home on an Anthony Rendon double. Another two scored on a single by Wilson Ramos. And two more were pushed across on a Ben Revere triple, his second hit of the inning. All of those came before Harvey was replaced by reliever Logan Verrett. The two hits Revere had in the third equaled the total he put up in his previous eight games combined (35 ABs).
Rendon's Renaissance continues: The results since manager Dusty Baker pushed Rendon down to sixth in the lineup have been excellent so far. The Nats third baseman went 3-for-4 with a double, a run and two RBI on Thursday. Since moving to the sixth spot, Rendon is 6-for-13 (.462) with four RBI, three runs and three walks.
Harper breaks slump vs. Harvey: The reigning NL MVP entered Thursday night hitless in 23 plate appearances against Harvey, but landed a single in his second at-bat to break that slide. Harper then stole second base for his seventh steal of the season. That surpasses his totals from both 2014 and 2015 when he posted six in each of those years. Harper is currently on pace to steal 28 bases this season.
What's next: The Nats move on to face the Marlins in Miami starting with a 7:10 p.m. first pitch on Friday night. The opener will pit Tanner Roark (2-3, 3.10) against lefty Justin Nicolino (2-1, 3.75) in the 12th matchup already this season between the two teams.