The National League’s most potent offense is still without suspended 2015 MVP Bryce Harper. But it mattered not, as the Washington Nationals were still able to hang a 20-spot in the hit column earning a 13-3 thrashing of the hapless Oakland Athletics Friday night.
Oakland starter Andrew Triggs suffered his worst outing of the season, but the Nationals (34-19) refused to let up after his departure, finishing with each of their nine starters collecting at least one hit and one RBI. The A’s (23-31), on the other hand, could advance just two runners into scoring position prior to a window-dressing rally in the ninth, and finishing 0-for-6 in those chances.
Manager Bob Melvin broke down his club’s evening succinctly:
“Overall, obviously, it wasn’t a competitive game as it went along.”
Triggs (L, 5-5, 3.36 ERA) was bruised and battered early by the unrelenting Washington lineup, but was able to escape back-to-back one-out singles in the first. In the second, though, the hurler allowed the Nats’ “soft spot” to hurt him, giving up a two-out solo home run (5) to No. 8 hitter Michael Taylor. And the hard spot got him in the third, when Daniel Murphy crushed his own solo homer (10).
In the fourth, Triggs’ house of cards came crashing down.
While searching for a shut-down inning, in response to a Matt Joyce two-run homer (6) tying the game in the bottom of the third, Triggs instead found a coiled cobra poised to pounce and force an early exit.
“That’s what you always talk about, especially against a guy like [Stephen] Strasburg: we’re not getting too many good swing early on … we tie it up and that’s when you want the shut-down inning. It didn’t happen.”
Washington opened the frame with back-to-back doubles from Anthony Rendon and Matt Wieters reclaiming the lead. And, after a fly-out and strikeout, the top of the order unleashed the venom, with the next five hitters reaching base. RBI singles from Trea Turner, Murphy and Ryan Zimmerman came peppered with walks to Jayson Werth and Adam Lind.
Melvin could wait no longer, pulling his starter in favor of Frankie Montas with two on and two out.
Triggs said that even facing one of the game’s top offenses, battling is as simple as throwing good pitches, which he wasn’t able to do:
“I just made some lousy pitches in the fourth … and I wasn’t able to stop the merry-go-round.”
“I need to make better pitches because getting pulled in the fourth, that’s embarrassing on my end. That’s all on my performance. … Today I was just bad.”
The storm would not subside until Joyce was able to flag down a Rendon looping liner near the right-field line. Triggs finished his down outing setting a season-high in hits allowed (9) and matching his season-high giving up six runs in a season-low 3-2/3 innings pitched.
While the Washington offense was busy throttling Oakland pitching, starter Strasburg (W, 7-1, 2.91 ERA) kept the A’s bats from mounting any semblance of a comeback. Oakland did find its way back onto the scoreboard in the ninth behind a solo home run (15) off the bat of Yonder Alonso.
Allowing just four hits while striking out seven over 7 frames, Strasburg turned in another dominant outing to keep his Cy Young hopes alive and well.
His offense added one in the sixth on a Werth homer (8), and they didn’t stop there. Rookie Brian Goodwin‘s first career home run, a two-run shot, gave the Nats two more in the seventh, and a three-run homer (10) for Rendon put the finishing touches on a four-run eighth. Murphy and Goodwin each finished with four hits and two RBIs.
The skipper praised Washington’s approach, saying they did a good job of letting the good pitches go and not missing the mistakes:
“That’s a really good team. It’s a tough team for a pitcher, it grinds on you, there’s really no break.”
Taking the majority of the lumps in mop-up duty was Zach Neal, who was tagged for nine hits and seven runs but gave his club 3-1/3 innings to save the bullpen as it will likely be called upon with two games remaining against the NL’s top club, with Harper slated to return Sunday.
Daniel Mengden (0-1, 13.50 ERA) takes the mound at the Coliseum for the first time this season after requiring surgery on his right foot prior to Spring Training. He will face Oakland native and Bishop O’Dowd High School product Joe Ross (2-1, 6.18 ERA), looking to cool the red-hot Nats in a Saturday matinee.
Marcus Semien (right wrist) took no-contact swings prior to the game and said that he felt nothing more than the expected discomfort and limited mobility. Bob Melvin said the shortstop will throw from 75 feet Saturday. Both expect the rehab process to be a rotation of batting practice one day and throwing the next until the scar tissue from his April 18 surgery subsides. … In a rehab appearance, reliever Sean Doolittle threw a perfect inning of relief for Single-A Stockton Friday night. … The 21 hits and 13 runs allowed were each season highs for the Oakland pitching staff. … The win was No. 1,800 in the managerial career of Dusty Baker. Melvin offered congratulations, saying:
Anybody that does this job knows that’s a ton of wins, and you’ve got to be pretty darn good at your craft.”