Quick Links

Instant analysis: Nats 6, Blue Jays 2

792012.jpg

Instant analysis: Nats 6, Blue Jays 2

Game in a nutshell: With an opportunity to sweep their second consecutive series in an AL park and complete the first 6-0 road trip in team history, the Nationals left little to chance. They pounced on the Blue Jays early and then blasted their way to another convincing victory, thanks to a surprise contributor: rookie Tyler Moore, who clubbed two homers and a double and drove in five runs. Ian Desmond also homered for for a Nationals team that launched eight home runs during this three-game series. Stephen Strasburg happily accepted the offensive support, tossing six innings of two-run ball to improve to 8-1 for the season and finish off a fabulous road trip in style.

Hitting highlight: Moore earned his promotion to the major leagues by crushing home runs left and right in the minors, including 31 each of the last two seasons. But he had yet to connect in his limited opportunities in the big leagues. Until today. Getting his first chance to start at first base with Adam LaRoche given a day off, Moore showed off his power in a big way. He delivered his first career homer in the fourth (a two-run blast to left) and then hammered a solo shot to center in the sixth. Throw in his two-run double in the second, and Moore wound up driving in the Nationals' first five runs of the day.

Pitching highlight: Five days after his 119-pitch, 13-strikeout effort in Boston, there was some question what Strasburg would have left in the tank this afternoon. Turns out he had more than enough to turn in another quality start. The right-hander did serve up a homer to Jose Bautista in the third inning, but he rebounded to retire 10 of the last 12 batters he faced. At only 89 pitches through the sixth, Strasburg could have returned for another inning -- and he certainly appeared to want to come back out -- but Davey Johnson decided not to take any chances and pulled his ace after a perfectly acceptable, eight-strikeout performance.

Key stat: Strasburg has now made 30 career starts in the big leagues, roughly the equivalent of a full season. His totals: a 14-5 record, 2.50 ERA, 169 innings, 131 hits, 216 strikeouts and 39 walks.

Up next: After a day off following their wildly successful road trip, the Nationals open one of the biggest homestands in team history when the Yankees and Rays come to town. Gio Gonzalez faces Phil Hughes in Friday's 7:05 p.m. series opener against New York at Nationals Park.

Quick Links

Bryce Harper knows why he didn't play well, but he won't specify why

Bryce Harper knows why he didn't play well, but he won't specify why

Bryce Harper struggled by his standards in 2016 and he says he know why it happened last year. While it was rumored last season that he was playing through injuries, Harper never really missed significant time, nor did he really say that his injuries were the reason for his disappointing numbers. 

Speaking with the media today at spring training, Harper hinted at his injuries from last season as he said he was just trying to stay in the lineup every day.  

Although Harper's statistics dropped off dramatically from his MVP season in 2015, his numbers weren't entirely awful last year. He still hit 24 homers, drove in 86 runs and he had an .814 OPS. 

With a full offseason to heal up, Harper will be a prime bounce-back candidate as he looks to help the Nationals win their third NL East title in the last four years. 

Related: Sorry D.C. sports fans, Bryce Harper is a Dallas Cowboys fan

Quick Links

Nationals' Max Scherzer says he may not be ready for season opener

Nationals' Max Scherzer says he may not be ready for season opener

The Nationals aren't certain to have ace Max Scherzer ready to pitch for Opening Day. Scherzer, 32, was unable to compete in the World Baseball Classic this summer due to a stress fracture in his right ring finger. 

When he spoke to the media today at the first bullpen session of spring training, he said that the fracture has healed but the symptoms continue. 

Scherzer also said he'd just started throwing again this week. Manager Dusty Baker confimed that the Nationals don't know whether Scherzer will be ready to start the season. 

Any time a team's star pitcher suffers an unusual hand injury, it's cause for concern for the club and fans. 

Scherzer won the NL Cy Young Award last season and posted a 20-7 record as a starter. He also led the MLB with 284 strikeouts. 

Scherzer is an especially vital part of the Nationals rotation considering the injury history of Stephen Strasburg, who landed on the DL twice last season, once with soreness in the elbow that needed Tommy John surgery in 2010. 

MORE NATIONALS: RANKING ALL 30 MLB LOGOS FROM WORST TO FIRST