Game in a nutshell: In the first morning game in Nationals history, the home team came out of the gates a bit sluggish. Edwin Jackson gave up three runs in the top of the first, and Giants starter Madison Bumgarner faced the minimum the first time through the order.
But then the Nats' lineup got hot once again, thanks to a few familiar faces. Ian Desmond delivered yet another clutch hit (a two-out, two-run single in the third). Ryan Zimmerman and Michael Morse delivered back-to-back homers in the fifth, each slugger continuing his torrid pace at the plate. And even Jhonatan Solano chimed in with his second career homer. Jackson settled down after his shaky first inning, and the Nationals cruised to a second straight victory over the NL's second-best club. At 47-32, they're now 15 games over .500, matching their best mark of the season.
Hitting highlight: Lots of candidates to choose from here yet again, including Zimmerman, Morse and Desmond. But let's throw some love to Solano, who has come out of nowhere to provide a potent bat at the bottom of the Nationals' lineup. The rookie catcher -- summoned to the big leagues only after injuries to Wilson Ramos, Jesus Flores, Sandy Leon and Carlos Maldonado -- blasted an opposite-field homer to right and added a single and a stolen base in this game. "The Onion" is now hitting .423 with two homers and six RBI in limited playing time but sure is making a case to get more regular at-bats.
Pitching highlight: What is it about Jackson and his aversion to the first inning? He's now allowed 17 earned runs in 16 first frames this season, equating to a 9.56 ERA. In every other inning, that number plummets to 2.64. Whatever the reason, the right-hander just seems to have trouble locating his pitches early in games, but he manages to quickly find it after that. Jackson was very sharp from the second through the fifth innings today, retiring 12 of 14 batters.Key stat: How clutch has Desmond been? Well, 25 of his 47 RBI this season have come with two outs. That doesn't sound like an anomaly.
Up next: Both teams will have plenty of time rest (or catch some fireworks) before they return for tomorrow night's series finale. Ross Detwiler faces Matt Cain at 7:05 p.m.
Stephen Strasburg matched his season-high with 11 strikeouts and Bryce Harper tied a career-high with five walks as the Washington Nationals beat the Miami Marlins 4-2 Tuesday night.
Anthony Rendon drove in two runs for the Nationals (77-75), who entered Tuesday's game 7 games behind the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves and 7 games back in the race for the final wild-card spot.
Strasburg (9-7) pitched six innings and allowed two runs and five hits with two walks. At one point, he struck out six consecutive batters.
Sean Doolittle pitched a perfect ninth for his 25th save in 26 opportunities.
Peter O'Brien hit his third home run of the season and J.T. Realmuto had two hits and knocked in a run for the Marlins.
Adam Eaton and Trea Turner had consecutive RBI singles in the second inning to give the Nationals an early lead.
O'Brien's solo homer off Strasburg cut the Marlins' deficit to 2-1.
Rendon's sacrifice fly pushed the lead to 3-1, but Realmuto pulled Miami within 3-2 with a base hit in the fifth.
Rendon's single in the sixth pushed Washington's advantage to 4-2.
Sandy Alcantara pitched four innings for the Marlins and allowed six hits, six walks, and three runs.
Nationals: RHP Max Scherzer (17-7, 2.53 ERA) will begin a four-game series against the New York Mets on Thursday.
Marlins: RHP Jeff Brigham (0-2, 7.36) will take the mound on Thursday when Miami begins the final home series of the season, a four-game set against Cincinnati.
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The Nationals top minor league affiliate has been the Syracuse Chiefs since 2009 but the Nats brass knew that partnership would end following the 2018 season after the Mets purchased the Chiefs. So the Nats were left scrambling for a new Triple-A affiliate. The options were limited. In the end, the Nats were stuck with the Fresno Grizzlies.
“The Washington Nationals are excited to be partnering with the Fresno Grizzlies of the Pacific Coast League,” said President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo via a statement. “Fresno is committed to player development and we hope this partnership will continue to yield success for both clubs on the field and off.”
The Fresno Grizzlies will be Washington’s fourth Triple-A club after being affiliated with Syracuse (2009-18), Columbus (2007-08) and New Orleans (2005-06).
Nationals Park is 2,800 miles away from Chukchansi Park, the home of the Fresno Grizzlies. That type of travel is not ideal for a quick call-up to Washington. Don't expect Victor Robles or Carter Kieboom to spend much time in California.
The big winner of today's announcement... The Nationals Double-A affiliate, the Harrisburg Senators.
Harrisburg in only 120 miles away from Nationals Park and it is not unpredecented for a prospect to skip Triple-A (Juan Soto did it this season).
The Senators play in the Eastern League, which ranges from Maine to Virginia. The majority of the Fresno Grizzlies games are played west of the Rockies.
The other Nationals minor league affiliates are the Potomac (Va.) Nationals (Advanced-A), Hagerstown (Md.) Suns (Class A), and Auburn (N.Y.) Doubledays (Class A Short Season).
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