Baseball is a simple and beautiful game when things work together, and John Lannan had it all working Tuesday night at Nationals Park.
His second career complete game, also his first shutout, was the first whitewash by any pitcher, home or visitor, in the brief history of the stadium.
It was the Nats’ first shutout since Pedro Astacio did it to the Braves on August 15 of 2006 at RFK. With the talent on our young staff, I’m sure we won’t have to wait three more years for the next one!
Lannan was masterful and didn’t need strikeouts to beat the Mets. Including two double plays, he recorded 17 ground ball outs and struck out just one batter. All seven Mets’ hits were singles and he gave up more than one in only one inning.
When pitchers work fast and hit their spots, the defense plays better. Nyjer Morgan made two excellent plays in center field, one early in the game to rob David Wright of at least a double and two RBIs. The other in the eighth prompted me to say on the MASN telecast, “I guess you really can outrun the ball!” This young man can fly, and his impact on our club has been dramatic in less than three weeks. What a great deal Mike Rizzo engineered to bring Nyjer and Sean Burnett from Pittsburgh.
Cristian Guzman’s amazing play and throw on speedy Alex Cora in the fifth was Goozie’s best of the year.
There was just enough offense, with bottom-of-the-order hitters Alberto Gonzalez and Wil Nieves contributing key line drives in the two-run fourth. Then the big boys, Josh Willingham and Adam Dunn got their RBIs in the fifth. New York’s Oliver Perez was erratic, giving the Nats seven extra baserunners, six on walks and one on a hit batsman. Good teams take advantage of those gifts, and the Nats looked pretty good in Tuesday’s game.
But it all starts with the pitcher, and Lannan’s 105 pitches were effective as he threw 79 strikes and only 26 balls the entire game. When he won his seventh game of the year, it represented more than 1/4 of the Nats’ season total!
Let’s hope the other young guns can learn from watching their ace, and it won’t be long before we’re celebrating more wins like Tuesday’s 2 hour and 9 minute beauty!
By the way, when I was a kid, major league games started at 8:05 and were usually over by 10:15. Lannan’s performance was a throwback to another era when good pitchers ruled and fans enjoyed every fast-moving minute of it.