Michael Morse smacked another home run last night for the Mariners, giving him three in the last two days. The former Nationals slugger has four hits on the season. Three have left the yard.
That man sure can hit.
Morse better keep going deep, though. He’s got Gio Gonzalez right on his tail in the home run department.
For those who haven’t gotten a chance to make it out to Nats Park yet, it appears the team is going to be using the song “Take on Me” as part of its seventh-inning stretch for home games. Morse had previously used that as one of his walk-up songs, and fans really embraced it. It appears the ’80s jam by A-ha is here to stay.
With last night’s effort from Gonzalez, Ryan Mattheus, Drew Storen and Rafael Soriano, the Nationals became just the 13th team since 1900 to throw back-to-back shutouts to begin a season.
Think about that for a second. Of all the teams to have played over a combined 1,013 seasons, only 12 others have accomplished what the Nationals’ pitchers have over the last two ballgames.
As you might remember, this is a pitching staff that as a whole posted a 3.33 ERA last season, second-best in the majors. And that was before the additions of Soriano (who has two saves on the season) and Dan Haren (who will get the start in Cincinnati on Saturday).
The Nationals know they have a staff chock full of talented, experienced arms, and that’s why the back-to-back shutouts to begin the season don’t shock the players in that clubhouse, even when they’re told of the exclusive group they’ve joined.
“I look at this staff, and that’s what I expect,” Mattheus said.
Said catcher Kurt Suzuki, who was behind the plate last night: “With the stuff that they got, it’s pretty special. It doesn’t surprise me one bit. Look at the bullpen, too. It’s tough.”
Stepehn Strasburg got it all started on opening day, dominating the Marlins through seven scoreless innings, allowing just two hits. Tyler Clippard and Soriano closed that 2-0 win out with sharp eighth and ninth innings, respectively.
Last night, Gonzalez carried the bulk of the load, giving the Nats six strong innings despite battling a headache before turning things over to the ‘pen.
All in all, manager Davey Johnson has used six different pitchers to help notch these two wins. The tone has been set by Strasburg and Gonzalez, however.
“The two (starters) we fired out there, I mean that can happen on any given night,” Adam LaRoche said. “We’ve all seen it. They just, they dominate. That’s what they do. It’s nice to know we’ve got three guys behind ‘em (in the rotation) that are right there.”
The Nats, of course, have dealt with the Marlins over these two games, a team that is severely lacking offensive talent around its one remaining star, Giancalo Stanton. While the Nationals have shut out Miami over these two games, the Marlins have also proven how bad their offense could end up being this season. They’ve managed just seven hits over 18 innings and have really only had a couple of scoring threats.
Still, it takes good pitching to hold a major league lineup scoreless for 18 innings. Now it’ll be up to Jordan Zimmermann to see if he can keep that streak going.
“You look at the way the first two games have gone, and it’s a great start,” Storen said. “To come out there and have Stras lead us off and really do his thing, it just kind of set the table for Gio. Now it’s time for Zim and the rest of those guys to show what they got. ...
“Hopefully we can be one of one teams to (post a shutout) three days in a row. We got the guys to do it, and that’s our strong point. Our strong point last year was our pitching, and if we keep building on that, we’ll be in good shape.”