Jackson finally gets run support, second win

785894.png

Jackson finally gets run support, second win

Nationals starter Edwin Jackson has gone at least six innings allowing three runs or less in seven of his 11 starts this season, including five of his last six outings. Yet on Wednesday night in the Nats 5-3 victory over the Mets - the teams 54th game of the year - Jackson earned just his second win as a Washington National. He finally enjoyed some run support that not only came early, but also late as he made mistakes seldom seen during his brief time in Washington.

Those guys put some good at-bats out there, that along with the defense helped me out tonight, he said.

They continued to pick me up and it is just a great feeling. It shows you what this team is capable of doing.

Jackson noted afterwards the lack of run support during his starts this season, but said it doesnt affect his approach inning by inning.

They arent going out and not scoring runs on purpose, it is just one of those things. The times you give up a few runs like tonight, they come back and pick you up. It is just one of those things that goes up and down.

Jackson ended up with just two earned runs through seven innings of work with three hits and four walks allowed. But through some stretches Jackson let pitches get away from him and he made mistakes that would have been more costly in lower scoring games.

Things got interesting in the fourth inning when Jackson made a throwing error that helped lead to a Mets run. New York third baseman David Wright singled on a drive to right field to lead off. With Lucas Duda at the plate Jackson decided to check Wright at first with a pickoff attempt. His throw got away from Adam LaRoche and Wright advanced all the way to third. Wright was able to score as Duda grounded to Ian Desmond for the fielders choice.

The error was actually Jacksons second of the variety in his last two games, he sent the Marlins Chris Coghlan all the way to third on May 29 in Miami. Jackson, however, assures he has no problem with throwing to first.

I definitely dont have a case of the yips, I definitely dont mind throwing the ball to first, he said. The ball just slipped, there is no excuse. I wasnt trying to do anything, the ball just got away from me.

Jackson on the year now holds a 3.11 ERA which is lower than any season mark he has posted in his career. His 2.4 walks per nine innings this season is also down from his career average of 3.6. There has been a slight improvement in his overall efficiency, something manager Davey Johnson is keen to point out.

He probably had a little bit of a reputation coming in that he threw a lot of pitches and that he was a little bit wild, but of the starters I think he has been as sharp as any of them, Johnson said. His walk total is way down, his stuff is exceptional, and hes been coming back when we really need him like today.

Jackson himself says he has been in a groove the last month or so and hopes his strong season can continue.

It is just one of those things that comes with time. For some people it happens quicker than others, but it is just one of those times where things start to click and you definitely have to take advantage of it, he said.

Ross dominates, Nats hit four homers in win over Phillies

531natscutinrefframe_1.jpg

Ross dominates, Nats hit four homers in win over Phillies

Postgame analysis of the Nats' 5-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park.

How it happened: Daniel Murphy wasn't signed by the Nationals to be a home run hitter, but that's exactly what he's become through two months of the 2016 season. And after his power surge last October, maybe we shouldn't be surprised. Murphy has looked like a completely different player since late last fall and the Nats are now gladly reaping the benefits.

Murphy homered for the second straight night on Tuesday in the Nationals' 5-1 win over the Phillies. That capped off the best month of his career and one of the best months in franchise history.

Jayson Werth, Danny Espinosa and Stephen Drew also homered, and Joe Ross turned in seven strong innings as the Nationals moved to 4-4 against the Phillies on the season.

What it means: Winners of three straight, the Nationals moved to 32-21 on the season Tuesday night. They now have a chance on Wednesday to win four in a row for the first time since April 29-May 2. They can also get their first sweep since they beat the Cardinals three times in a row April 29-May 1. A sweep of the Phillies would put them 12 games above .500 for the first time this season.

Danny Ballgame does it again: Murphy's homer was his ninth of the season and his seventh in the month of May alone. The only time Murphy has hit seven homers in one month was last October during his postseason tear with the Mets. Murphy is now on pace to club 27 home runs this season. Over his last 81 games played - including the 2015 postseason - Murphy has hit 20 homers, 59 RBI and a .366 batting average. That's not quite his .394 average for this year, but it's pretty darn good for what equates to half an MLB season.

Murphy ties franchise record: Murphy also reached on a single in the eighth for his 47th hit in the month of May. That tied a Nats/Expos franchise record for hits in a month. Al Oliver did it in August of 1982 and Marquis Grissom accomplished the feat in June of 1994, both with the Expos of course. Murphy now has 26 multi-hit games in 51 total outings this season. He gets multi-hit games more often than he doesn't. Murphy, by the way, is now batting .397 and we're officially two months into the season.

Ross keeps rolling: Ross was dominant through seven innings of one run ball with three hits and two walks allowed. The right-hander now has a 2.37 ERA on the season, which is best on the Nats and 10th-lowest in the majors. This was the second straight outing for Ross where he went seven innings and only allowed one run. The lone score the Phillies got off him was on an RBI triple by Cesar Hernandez in the third. Hernandez scored Lough all the way from first and it was on a line drive to right-center that may have been fielded by Ben Revere if the Nats had not been in an outfield shift. 

Werth also homers: Werth hit his eighth homer of the season and his second in the last three games. It was a solo shot that put the Nationals up 1-0 in the first inning. It was Werth's second homer off Nola, as he also got him on Sept. 14 of last year. 

Up next: The Nationals and Phillies close their three-game series with a 7:05 p.m. first pitch on Wednesday night. Max Scherzer (5-4, 4.05) will get the start for the Nats opposite Phillies lefty Adam Morgan (1-3, 6.67).

NL East: For one day, Harvey silences critics with dominant outing

chasehughes052416refframe_1.jpg

NL East: For one day, Harvey silences critics with dominant outing

In New York, where your every move is dissected to a T by fans and media, achieving and maintaining sports stardom can be difficult to do. Just ask Matt Harvey, who went from being the toast of the town while helping the Mets to the World Series last October to having his ability (and character) roundly criticized after his rough start to the 2016 season. And after he lost back-to-back outings against the Nationals recently, it seemed like he had reached rock bottom. 

But for one outing, the man known as "The Dark Knight" managed to silence his critics with a vintage performance against the Chicago White Sox on Memorial Day. He allowed just two hits over seven shutout frames, striking out six and issuing just one walk in the Mets' 1-0 win. The victory raised his record to 4-7 and lowered his ERA to 5.37. 

And unlike his previous start, he addressed the media after the game. Per MLB.com: 

"There's a lot of emotion....It's been a while.…The idea is to do everything you can to help the team, and I felt like I wasn't doing that very well. Today, to be able to go out in a one-run ballgame like that and be able to put up zeros, was very exciting."

The difference for Harvey on Monday was establishing his dominant fastball that had been missing for most of the first two months of the season. His heater was clocked as high as 98 mph, a marked improvement over his previous starts. 

Harvey was considered a hero in 2015, his first full campaign post-Tommy John surgery, as he pitched a total of 216 innings between the regular season and the playoffs. No pitcher had ever thrown that many innings in the first season following the procedure. And it's precisely that fact that many have pointed to when discussing whether or not the 27-year-old right hander is still feeling the effects from last year's overuse. 

So will Harvey return to form? Can he reclaim his status at the Mets ace? It's too early to tell, but Monday's outing was the first that provided a light at the end of the tunnel. Just don't expect the circus to end anytime soon.  

"I think it's a first step," Harvey said. "Obviously, this isn't going to mean anything unless I continue to do this and stay with what we've been working on. It's a work in progress, but I'm happy that I was able to go out there, feel comfortable in my mechanics and get the job done."

Bryce Harper out of Nats lineup day after getting hit vs. Phillies

natscutin530refframe_1.jpg

Bryce Harper out of Nats lineup day after getting hit vs. Phillies

Nats (31-21) vs. Phillies (26-25) at Citizens Bank Park

Fresh off their comeback victory on Monday night, the Nationals will look to make it three straight wins overall as the continue their series against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Bryce Harper is out of the Nationals' lineup on Tuesday after he took a pitch off his right leg on Monday night. Harper was diagnosed with a contusion on his right leg and, as of last night, was considered day-to-day according to what manager Dusty Baker told reporters in Philly.

Pitching for the Nats will be Joe Ross (4-4, 2.52) in his 10th start of the season. He's coming off a strong performance of seven innings and just one earned run against the Cardinals. Ross saw the Phillies back on April 15 and tossed 7 2/3 scoreless frames in a Nationals win.

Former seventh overall pick Aaron Nola (4-3, 2.86) will take the mound for Philly. He's faced the Nats twice this season, once allowing seven earned runs in five innings on April 16 and then the other time going seven shutout frames in a Phillies win on April 28.

First pitch: 7:05 p.m.
TV: MASN2
Radio: 106.7 The Fan, XM 869
Starting pitchers: Nats - Joe Ross vs. Phillies - Aaron Nola

NATS

CF Ben Revere
RF Jayson Werth
2B Daniel Murphy
1B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Clint Robinson
3B Anthony Rendon
C Wilson Ramos
SS Danny Espinosa
RHP Joe Ross

PHILLIES

CF Odubel Herrera
SS Freddy Galvis
3B Maikel Franco
C Cameron Rupp
1B Ryan Howard
LF Tyler Goeddel
RF David Lough
2B Cesar Hernandez
RHP Aaron Nola

Follow along with GameView here