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Nationals - Diamondbacks, Round 1 | June

A four game series with the Washington Nationals and the Arizona Diamondbacks that would make U.S. Congressmen proud: after four games, nothing was accomplished.  A series split with these two was filled with emotion, intensity, and Justin Upton getting hit a lot.  These teams ended their series with no love lost between them, and you can bet they can’t wait until August 22-25 in the Capitol to finish what they started this weekend in the desert.  How did this series play out game for game?  Will Chase Field be made a “National Park”?  Answers below.


Thursday- Game 1 vs. Washington: Zach Duke must have felt some pressure to live up to his wonderful D'Backs debut, because he did not pitch well.  The Nationals put up a 3 spot before the seats were warm, and the D'Backs were never able to recover.  Michael Morse (a.k.a. the hottest hitter on the planet) knocked in the first run, and then a Wilson Ramos double put the Nats up 3-0.  Ramos added an RBI groundout in the 5th. They knocked Duke around for ten hits and four runs in five innings.  The D'Backs scored a run with a Gerardo Parra groundout, and that was the only one off Jordan Zimmermann, who was lights out.  The Nationals added two more in the 9th off Aaron Heilman and won 6-1.
Justin Upton HBP Total: 1
Series: 0-1
Homestand: 2-2
Player of the Game: Got to hate giving it to an opposing player, but Zimmermann was fantastic: 7IP, 6H, 1R, 1BB, 4K

Friday- Game 2 vs. Washington: After losing to a sub- .500 team for the first time since Armando Galarraga was a D'Back and the Padres were in town on May 16, the D'Backs had a score to settle with the Washington Nationals.  And Josh Collmenter was on the mound this night. Chris Young got him some early run support, with a solo home run to lead off the 2nd.  Nobody scored from then until the 5th inning when Stephen Drew came to bat with the bases loaded.  He immediately went 3-0 to former teammate Doug Slaten (who came in just to face Drew). Drew got the green light from Kirk Gibson, and he rewarded him.  Drew’s blast stayed just within the confines of Chase Field, but still cleared the bases to turn a 3-0 count into 3 more runs.  That was the decisive hit of the game, as the D'Backs went on to win 4-0.
Justin Upton HBP Total: 3
Series: 1-1
Homestand: 3-2
Player of the Game: His triple was the difference in this game, so tonight’s POTG is Stephen Drew: 1-4, 3B, 3RBI (with an honorable mention to Collmenter and his 7 inning, 3 hit shutout lowering his ERA to 1.25).

Saturday- Game 3 vs. WashingtonJoe Saunders apparently is contractually required to load the bases in the 1st inning.  He did last Monday against Florida, and did so again tonight.  But written in the fine print of that contract is that he must get out of it.  From that point forward, he was masterful.  He retired 14 straight Nationals to end his night.  He and Livan Hernandez actually both had newsworthy defensive plays off the mound.  On a light tapper, Saunders pounced off the mound and did a backhanded, barehanded flip to retire Ian Desmond.  Hernandez did just the opposite; on a Saunders swinging bunt, Hernandez literally walked, walked to pick up the ball and as nonchalantly as possible fielded it, and threw to first.  Stephen Drew proved again to have the decisive triple; it just came in the 1st inning.  He tripled home Kelly Johnson, and Xavier Nady doubled home Chris Young in the 7th.  David Hernandez handled the 8th, and JJ Putz locked down the 9th for his 17th save of the year.  2-0 final.
Series: 2-1
Homestand: 4-2
Player of the Game:  Fantastic pitching, great diving play, congrats Joe Saunders 7IP, 0R, 2H, 2BB, 5K

Sunday Game 4 vs. Washington: This Sunday afternoon, Ian Kennedy dueled Jason Marquis in a battle of 6 game winners.  The story, however, was focused on the hit by pitch.  With the Nationals leading 1-0 in the 5th, Jayson Werth was hit by a pitch for the second time this series.  He was visibly upset, and his pitcher backed him up.  Marquis hit Upton in the bottom of the 6th for the fourth time this series.  Marquis was ejected, and the D'Backs had a prime opportunity to score.  Kelly Johnson had walked, so he moved up to second on the Upton HBP, and Stephen Drew came to bat with two runners on and only one out.  Unfortunately Tyler Clippard now entered.  He struck out Drew, then struck out Young.  The following inning, he struck out Montero, got Miranda to fly out, then struck out Mora. In the top of the 8th, Esmerling Vasquez allowed a base runner, then hit Danny Espinosa.  He was immediately ejected, mirroring Jason Marquis in the 6th.  Aaron Heilman entered and on the first pitch allowed a heart breaking three run home run to Wilson Ramos, who took a very long home run trot, which clearly irked 3rd Base Coach Matt Williams.  In the bottom half of the inning, Clippard went right back to work, and picked up where he left off.  He struck out Roberts, and struck out Bloomquist (sensing a pattern?) to show off one of the most dominating relief appearances possible.  Johnson did connect for a solo home run before he exited, but still a begrudging tip of the cap to Clippard.  Werth, Upton, Marquis, Vasquez, Espinosa, Williams, Montero all showed some sort of negative emotion at the opponent in this game, so there was definitely a lot of animosity between these two teams.  They meet in August for another four game series, so that will definitely be interesting to watch. 

But the excitement did not end there: Drew, Young, and Montero loaded the bases with nobody out in the 9th.  Miranda walked, forcing in Drew.  4-2.  Melvin Mora hit a sac fly, knocking in Young and getting Montero to 3rd.  4-3.  Xavier Nady then got a groundout, but beat out the double play to score Montero.  4-4.  The inning ended there and the 23,129 in attendance were treated to bonus baseball.  J.J. Putz had 3Ks in a dominating 10th.  Unfortunately, Joe Paterson took this afternoon as the time to have his first career bad outing.  He loaded the bases, then walked a batter.  Michael Morse then unloaded a grand slam to straightaway center.  Henry Rodriguez then closed the door on a 9-5 Washington victory, and a high intensity series finale.
Justin Upton HBP Total: 4
Series: 2-2
Homestand: 4-3
Player of the Game:  Tyler Clippard/ Michael Morse.  Clippard struck all but one batter he faced in 2.1IP, with 1H, 1ER, 6K.  He also deflated the D'Backs rally opportunity in the 6th and was as dominant as he has ever been.  Morse ended the game with his granny, and had a line of 1-4, 1BB, GS, 4RBI

* I apologize for the long recap of this game but this was a terrific game, and there was a lot to talk about.

Make sure you stay at dbacksvenom.com tomorrow for the MLB First-Year Player Draft coverage, including recap, analysis, and more as the D'Backs select 3rd and 7th overall.