SAN FRANCISCO - Five batters into tonight’s game, the Nationals led 3-0.
They drew eight walks on the night and grinded out at-bats against a tough Giants pitching staff led tonight by Matt Cain.
They got six-plus innings of two-run ball thrown by Tanner Roark - another quality start - and again leaned on their bullpen to lock down a close game in the late innings.
And they played exceptional defense, with Ryan Zimmerman making multiple impressive grabs (including one spectacular catch to save a run and end the sixth inning), Danny Espinosa coming through with a sliding play in the hole to also save a run and Jayson Werth making a nice play coming in on a ball.
A total team effort, yet again, this time in a 6-2 win.
The Nats have already won this series against the team with the best record in baseball and could lock up a mammoth four-game sweep tomorrow afternoon.
Here’s manager Matt Williams after the win:
On the Nats’ defensive plays tonight: “All around. Danny made a nice play with two outs and a guy on third. Zim made a couple of really nice plays. Jayson slid and caught a ball in a run-scoring situation. They’re playing good.”
On the momentum shift that Zimmerman’s catch to end the sixth provided: “You can’t think about what might have happened, but he saved the inning for us right there. Looks like he’s been doing it a long time. That’s a really nice play.”
On how impressive Zimmerman has been in left: “Yeah, it’s like that’s his natural position. He’s just a good athlete. He does all things well on the diamond, and like we talked about before the game, it’s not easy to play here. He’s making it look like he’s been out there a long time.”
On Roark tonight: “Good. He was a little off sometimes with his fastball command, but he used his curveball and his slider and his changeup effectively, too, to get back in counts. He wasn’t as crisp as last time, but he pitched good.”
On the Nats getting to Cain - who walked four batters in the first inning - early: “I’ve never seen that from Matt. Faced him a lot. I’ve stood in that coaching box over there a lot and 99.9 percent of the time, he’s pinpoint with his control. But it’s nice the guys were patient and didn’t expand their strike zone and we were able to get him early, and that allowed Tanner to settle in a little bit.”
On Werth coming back in an at-bat against Cain to homer in the fifth: “He grinds at-bats. He has the ability to just foul balls off. Even if he’s not seeing balls well or not feeling good up there, he’s got the ability to foul them off. He got a good pitch to hit, a slider out over the plate. Cain’s a tough pitcher. He got ahead of him, started elevating the fastball, and then he got a slider to hit.”
On the significance of taking the first three games of this series: “I don’t know. I think we’ve been getting good pitching, we talked about the defense playing good defense, the timely hitting. And if we want to get to where we want to get to, that’s what we’ll have to do. So regardless of who the team is. They’re a very good team, and we have to do things good if we hope to win.”