May 24, 2017
Sports Insider Weekly
Photo courtesy of Wiki-commons
The NL East leading Nationals snapped their losing streak with a narrow 3-2 victory over the Braves Sunday afternoon. Though Washington (26-17) is still comfortably in first place–they lead their closest opponent by seven games–they hit a bit of a rough patch last week, losing four straight. Three of those losses came against the second-place Braves, whom they faced for a three-game series over the weekend.
After dropping the first two, the Nats headed into Sunday eager to end their losing streak and avoid a sweep. Stephen Strasburg (5-1) helped his team snap their losing streak with a season-high 11 strikeouts, allowing just five hits in 7 2/3 innings. Strasburg, who has lost just one start this season, continued his dominance against Atlanta, improving to 7-1 in his last nine starts against the Braves.
“We needed every bit of it,” Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. “He was very sharp. All his pitches were sharp. He threw a bunch of strikes, and they played us tough. Every game here was tough. It’s never easy.”
Daniel Murphy offered run support with a second-inning solo home-run, and the Nats added two more unearned runs in the third inning for a 3-0 lead they took late into the game. Atlanta (18-23) avoided a shutout when Dansby Swanson hit an RBI-double in the bottom of the eighth to cut the deficit to one. Despite the late-game rally, Washington was able to hang on for the 3-2 victory.
“You can’t really let what happened the day prior affect what you do out there,” Strasburg said. “I just wanted to go out there and just give it everything I had. We put up some runs early. From that point, I was just trying to throw as many shutout innings as I could.”
With the win, the Nats snapped their longest losing streak of the season. They next host two struggling West Coast teams–the Mariners (20-25) and Padres (16-30). Though on paper they are lopsided match-ups, it’s early enough in the season that a team’s record isn’t the best indicator of their skills. Plus, if Washington wants to remain at the top, they need to give their all to every opponent and game, no matter the odds.