Postgame analysis of the Nationals' 5-0 win over the New York Mets on Tuesday night at Nats Park.
How it happened: After a 55-minute rain delay pushed back the start of the game, all eyes were on 21-year-old Lucas Giolito — arguably the top pitching prospect in the game — as he made his much-anticipated major league debut. He took to the mound at Nats Park to thunderous cheers, and after the long wait, it was time to see what the much ballyhooed youngster could do.
And would he perform in his first start in The Show? Quite well, actually — until Mother Nature decided to send another round of storms that unfortunately cut his outing short. The game was delayed again, this time for 85 minutes, after Giolito had pitched four shutout innings. The long break meant Dusty Baker had no choice but turn things over with long reliever Yusmeiro Petit when things resumed.
In the fifth inning, Bryce Harper launched his 16th home run of the season, a liner that landed into the Nats' bullpen that extended the lead to 3-0. Two innings later, Wilson Ramos drove a double off the centerfield wall to drive in two more to make it 5-0.
The bullpen locked things down from there, and the Nats came away with the victory.
What it means: It took a while —five hours and eight minutes, to be exact —but Tuesday's win clinched the Nats' second series victory over the Mets this season. The win puts them at 46-32 and 4 1/2 in front of the Miami Marlins for first place in the NL East.
The game also meant that, thanks to the rain delay, Giolito wouldn't be given a chance to earn a win. The question now becomes is the Nats decide to keep him around for at least one more start. Given how well he performed in his short debut, it wouldn't surprise anyone if the Nats opted to give him another chance.
Giolito's shorted debut: When the weather was cooperating, the Nats’ phenom was impressive in his first major league start. He threw allowed just one hit in four shutout innings, striking out one and walking two on 45 pitches. His fastball was clocked in the mid-90s and his breaking pitches were anywhere from 79 to 82 mph. He appeared increasingly comfortable on the mound, so it's a real shame that the fans who came to watch him at Nats Park didn't get to see a full outing.
Harper in April form: For much of the last year, the sight of Bryce Harper depositing a pitch into the right field bullpen at Nats Park became mostly routine. But believe it or not, his fifth-inning blast on Tuesday night was the first time he'd hit a long ball at home in exactly a month. Granted, the reigning NL MVP hasn't hit many home runs anywhere since his extended slump began in early May. But an optimist would note that he went 2-for-4 with two extra-base hits — a first for him since April 23 —and has now homered three times in the last 12 days, so perhaps another barrage could be on the horizon.
Up next: The Nats will catch a bit of a break on Wednesday, as the Mets' scheduled starter Steven Matz was scratched in favor of Logan Verrett (3-4, 4.14 ERA). Washington will send Max Scherzer (8-5, 3.52 ERA) to the mound to try and secure the sweep.