This feature was birthed after one of the Nationals' many close games this year (they've played 32 one-run games in 87 contests), and though it might work a little better after those games in which little things played a big role. But the show must go on, and we'll dissect the Nationals' blowout win anyway.
Here we go:
Stephen Strasburg: As I wrote in the game story, the strength of Strasburg's big night was in his ability to adjust to the hitters that were starting to adjust to him. Heading into the second half of the season, his ability to do that will be tested on several occasions. He proved up to the task on Friday night, and the result was one of his two or three best outings of the season.
Adam Dunn: What more can the slugger do right now? He's hit five homers in his last three games, and also added a double that nearly went out of the park. Dunn maintains he's not doing anything different at the plate, other than taking a more aggressive approach early in counts. For power hitters, this is what hot streaks look like -- homers in bunches -- and Dunn is as hot as they come right now.
Cristian Guzman: Hitting fifth in an unusual lineup, Guzman responded with a 1-for-2 night, and surprisingly, two walks. His role as the fifth hitter wasn't typical; after Dunn homered in front of him twice, Guzman's role was more to reset the table. But he did that effectively, showing more plate patience than we're used to seeing from him.
Ryan Zimmerman: He went 0-for-4 after a strong week, and was the only Nationals starter not to get on base. A rough night for the third baseman, but it came when the Nationals didn't need him to carry the load like he's done many times this week.
Nationals pitchers' offense: Strasburg came up with Wil Nieves on second and no outs in the fifth, and struck out looking. He's athletic and has shown the ability to handle the bat on occasion, but still looks uncomfortable at the plate more often than not. Drew Storen also missed an RBI opportunity on a rare at-bat in the seventh inning, striking out to end the inning.
In Case You Missed It:
--Give some credit to Wil Nieves, who had his first multi-RBI game since Aug. 25, 2009. Though Strasburg got the run support he needed to win, as manager Jim Riggleman pointed out, he was pitching in a one-run game most of the way until Nieves broke things open with his two-run single to right in the sixth inning. Every once in a while, when he's punching the ball to right, Nieves can be an effective option at the plate.
--On the first-inning pickoff play, where the Giants' Matt Cain tomahawked a throw off the grass and into the outfield as Roger Bernadina scored from second, Bernadina said he didn't plan to round third and score until he got the sign from third-base coach Pat Listach; he hadn't seen the play well enough to know he could do any more than get to third. But Bernadina's speed at the top of the lineup paid off, tying the game at one.
1. Where did Strasburg's start last night rank for you? How did it compare to his debut, or the game against the White Sox? Try to line it up amongst his best work.
2. We're seeing some more consistent performances from the Nationals' offense now -- is it enough to make you believe their long dry spell is over? To me, the big key is the top of the lineup; Nyjer Morgan is starting to produce again, and the Nationals' big hitters are getting more RBI opportunities because of it. Is this just a hot streak, or will we see more consistent scoring from the Nats the rest of the way?
Leave your answers in the comments section (as a reminder, you can always log in to the site using a third-party account from Google, Facebook, AOL, Yahoo and the like, and your comments will go through automatically. Just click the "log in" button above the comments window). I'll have more from the park this afternoon.