Analysis of the Nats' 4-1 win over the San Francisco Giants on Friday night at AT&T Park.
How it happened: Sometimes when your team is in a jam, you have to do something no one has ever done before to get them out of it.
On Friday night in San Francisco, the Nats pulled off the unimaginable. Called in cold off the bench as part of a triple-switch, Ryan Zimmerman generated the first triple play in team history to end the eighth inning and essentially save a Nationals win. It was the first 3-3-5 triple play ever executed by a major league team.
With the bases loaded and Sammy Solis on the mound, Zimmerman caught a Brandon Crawford line drive, stepped on first for the second out, then threw it across the diamond to Anthony Rendon, who stepped on third. The Nats escaped with their 4-1 lead intact and one inning later secured the victory.
Few MLB players have had more publicized issues throwing the baseball than Zimmerman, yet it was his accurate throw that led to the third out. Baseball, man.
That play helped save another strong outing for Max Scherzer, who went seven innings of one run ball. Jayson Werth, Ben Revere and Rendon each landed RBI singles. Daniel Murphy added an RBI triple, as the Nats won their third straight game.
The Nats' bullpen again showed its ugly side by loading the bases in the eighth and then seeing two baserunners reach in the ninth. They got out of each situation, though, to their credit.
What it means: The Nats are now 2-0 against the Giants this season and 61-42 overall. They hold a six-game lead over the Marlins and a 7 1/2 advantage over the Mets, as both teams lost on Friday.
Scherzer carves again: It may be flying under the radar after his slow start and with how good his teammate Stephen Strasburg has been, but Scherzer is having arguably the best season of his career. The Nats ace was efficiently dominant against the Giants on Friday with just one run allowed on five hits, two walks and six strikeouts on 116 pitches in seven innings of work. It was the seventh straight outing that Scherzer has gone at least six innings with two runs or less. Six times during that stretch has he given up one run or less.
Scherzer's worst game of this season was back on May 11 at the Chicago Cubs. But in the 15 starts since - roughly half a season - he has a 2.13 ERA and 141 strikeouts in 105 2/3 innings. Opponents have hit just .169 with a .529 OPS against him in those 15 games.
Scherzer has lowered his season ERA in six consecutive starts, all the way down to 2.85, which is very close to his career-best mark of 2.79 set in 2015. His 146 ERA+, 11.3 strikeouts-per-nine rate and 6.2 hits-per-nine are all career-bests.
Werth gets them started: The Nationals ended up having their way with Jeff Samardzija, but it didn't start out like that. Samardzija limited them to just two walks and no hits through the first three innings. Then, in the fourth inning, things started unraveling for the Giants right-hander. He gave up a one-out double to Wilson Ramos, then an RBI single to Werth. For Werth, it was the 32nd straight game he's reached base. Werth's overall numbers during that streak are largely unremarkable, he's hitting just .248 with 29 strikeouts. But on Friday, he was a big help for the Nats with two hits, a walk, an RBI and a run.
Murphy's triple: Good things came in threes for the Nats on Friday, as Murphy's triple was another big play in their win over the Giants. It was Murphy's fifth triple this season, which is a new career-high. Twice had he notched four on one season, most recently in 2013. Murphy has been on fire lately. In his last 15 games, he's 21-for-54 (.389) with six homers, 20 RBI, eight doubles and a triple.
Up next: The Nats carry on with the Giants as rookie Reynaldo Lopez (0-1, 11.57) makes his second career start. He'll pitch opposite veteran Jake Peavy (5-9, 5.42)
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