|Photo by USA Today|
Game in a nutshell: The Nats took their third win in as many days against the Reds behind early offense and Dan Haren’s best start as a member of the team. Washington scored two runs in each of the second, third, and fourth innings to jump out to a comfortable lead and give Haren the room he needed to pitch an efficient afternoon. They forced Reds’ starter Mike Leake out of the game after three innings with a high pitch count, three walks and six hits. The Reds would scrape out three runs, but end up losing by a final score of 6-3.
Hitting highlight: Bryce Harper is clearly the leader of the Nats’ lineup through the season’s first month and is making the case as one of the most dangerous hitters in all of baseball. He began had a single in the fourth, added a two-run home run (his ninth of the year) in the fifth, and drew a walk in the sixth. After today he is hitting .373 with nine homers (2nd in majors) and 18 RBI. The homer and RBI totals are team records for the month of April.
Pitching highlight: When a pitching staff is throwing as well as the Nats have seen lately, no one starter wants to break the streak. The team had seen back-to-back one-hit starts from Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann, and Haren actually continued that run through 3 2/3 innings before giving up his second hit of the day. A Brandon Phillips RBI single as the next batter then ended a 17 inning scoreless streak for the Washington staff. All in all, a great day for Haren who finally made it through six innings and finished with 2 ER, 6 H, 5 SO on 88 pitches in 6 IP.
Key stat: Harper hit his ninth homer of the season, extending his team record for April, and also set the month’s RBI mark with 18. Through 24 games he’s hitting .373/.453/.783.
Up next: Ross Detwiler (1-1, 1.38 ERA) and the Nats will look for a four-game sweep against the Reds and lefty Tony Cingrani (1-0, 2.25 ERA) on the mound.