The Nationals have done well on long road trips that commenced after June 1. It’s another mark of a team with depth, timely hitting and quality pitching.
Following Sunday’s 4-2 win at Cincinnati, the Nationals have now won or tied the first two series of multi-city road trips three times since the beginning of June.
From June 6 through 15, they traveled to San Diego (2-1), San Francisco (3-1) and St. Louis (0-3). They won five of the first seven games in that extended trip before the three tough games against the Cardinals. The Giants were 42-21 when the Nationals arrived. (Since the start of that home series against the Nationals, the Giants are just 15-27.)
From June 23 through June 28, the Nats played at Milwaukee (2-1) and at the Chicago Cubs (2-2). It was a winning trip at 4-3 and the Brewers were in first place.
As of today, they have already won the first two series of their nine-game road trip through Colorado, Cincinnati and Florida. The Nationals went 2-1 against the Rockies and 2-1 against the Reds.
That is 5-1-1 on their most recent road trips. They are 27-25 on road this season, which shows they didn’t start the year very well away from Nationals Park. They are 16-11 on the road since June 6. Dating to May 30, the Nationals are 12-2-3 in series play and 31-18 (.633) overall.
They have won 16 of their last 23 games since June 28.
Now can the Nationals sustain this run without Ryan Zimmerman? Some reports have him out for the rest of summer with a hamstring strain. Can Anthony Rendon, Danny Espinosa and Zach Walters pick up the slack offensively? You would think defense would not be an issue. Rendon has shown good quickness and hands at third, and Espinosa is an outstanding defender. Walters can hold his own and will get better with more playing time.
But not having Zimmerman’s veteran savvy and lethal bat in the lineup will hurt. Others in the lineup, including Adam LaRoche, will have to get going for the Nationals to maintain the offensive surge that has finally started to keep pace with their amazing pitching.
Their starting pitching was again incredible this past weekend. Against the Reds, Tanner Roark went seven innings and allowed one run on Friday, Gio Gonzalez went seven innings and allowed one run on Saturday, and Doug Fister completed the task on Sunday with seven innings and no runs surrendered.
That is a weekend series total of 21 innings, 10 hits, two runs, four walks and 19 strikeouts for Nationals starting pitchers. Their ERA was 0.86 for those three games.
Overall, Washington’s run differential is still a robust plus-75, best in the National League and third in the majors behind Oakland (plus-170) and the L.A. Angels (plus-91). Oakland has scored 170 more runs than they have allowed? That’s an insane number.
Just amazing stuff, but until this July surge, that was how this team was built this season. The pitching has been stifling. Now can they survive another month or 45 days without Zimmerman?