The Nationals looked unstoppable after their 10-game winning streak, five walk-offs in six games and 9-1 homestand. Then they ran into the Phillies and were swept. The three-game series to start a tough nine-game road trip shows that, really, anything can happen from game to game, and series to series. In a 162-game season, 12 wins in 13 games can just as easily be followed by a sweep at the hands of the division’s worst team.
One underlying theme has stood out, however, about the Nationals’ play against the Phillies in recent years. Over the past three seasons, the Nationals haven’t played particularly well at Citizens Bank Park. Since 2012, the Nationals are 11-17 in Philadelphia. During their first-ever division title season, the Nationals went 4-5 here. Last season, the Nationals went 4-6 in Philadelphia, and this season are 3-6.
“I think they’ve always, over the last three or four years, have had really good pitching staffs,” shortstop Ian Desmond said. “Not saying that they’re better than us offensively, but I don’t necessarily think it’s the ballpark or the atmosphere or anything like that. We’ve just run into some tough pitching and they pitch us well.”
Citizens Bank Park is a bandbox and a perfect stadium for offense, but the Nationals haven’t taken advantage of that. This season, visiting teams have averaged four runs per game at the stadium. The Nationals have averaged 3.7 runs per game. Since 2012, the Nationals have averaged 3.5 runs at Citizens Bank Park. The differences are small and perhaps negligible, but a half run difference over three seasons could add up to a win or two.
Overall, since 2012, the Nationals are 28-25 against the Phillies, including 8-8 this season. That’s not a particularly good record against a team that hasn’t had a winning since 2011. The Nationals will have three more games against the Phillies when they return from Seattle and Los Angeles, and with a chance to earn some redemption against a mediocre division foe.
FROM THE POST Doug Fister falters and the Nationals are swept by the Phillies, 8-4, writes Adam Kilgore.
FROM YESTERDAY’S JOURNAL
NATS MINOR LEAGUES
Syracuse 4, Rochester 3: Aaron Laffey allowed three runs over seven innings and struck out six. Xavier Cedeno and Rafael Martin fired scoreless innings. Steven Souza Jr. went 2 for 4 with an RBI. Jeff Kobernus added two hits. The Chiefs’ magic number for clinching a playoff spot is down to one.
Harrisburg 9, New Hampshire 6: Zach Kroenke gave up five runs on nine hits over five innings. Neil Holland earned a hold over three innings and Robert Benincasa a save. Matt Skole hit his 13th homer and Jason Martinson smashed his 10th.
Potomac 3, Wilmington 0 (7): Kylin Turnbull fired six scoreless innings and struck out six. John Wooten went 2 for 3 with a homer. Tony Renda added two hits. Potomac clinched the second-half Northern Division title.
Hagerstown 3, Asheville 2: Wander Suero gave up one unearned run and struck out seven over six innings. James Yezzo hit his 11th homer. Drew Ward went 2 for 3.
Auburn 6, Batavia 4: Drew Van Orden allowed only two runs on seven hits over 5 2/3 innings. Deion Williams went 2 1/3 scoreless. Dale Carey hit a two-run shot. Garrett Gordon went 3 for 3 with a walk.