Instant Analysis: Detwiler downs Braves

Instant Analysis: Detwiler downs Braves
July 22, 2012, 8:34 pm
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Game in a nutshell: Perhaps reinvigorated by last night's win in the second half of their doubleheader, the Nationals stormed out of the gates in the series finale, scoring four runs in the bottom of the first thanks to another Ryan Zimmerman homer and RBI hits from Danny Espinosa and Roger Bernadina. And unlike Friday night's debacle, they never took their foot off the gas pedal. Zimmerman added another homer. Espinosa added two more hits. Bernadina added two more hits. Sandy Leon added a bases-loaded double. And Ross Detwiler did a highly effective job pitching with a lead, working fast and holding the Braves to one earned run over seven innings. So just like that, the Nationals salvaged a series split and increased their lead over Atlanta to 3 12 games. Right back where they started on Friday.

Hitting highlight: What more can you say about Zimmerman? Well, we'll try to come up with more, because it feels like we highlight the guy every single day. He deserves it, though, with the tear he's on at the plate. With two more homers (and another single, to boot) today, he raised his season average to .273. In the month of July, Zimmerman is now hitting .418 with nine homers, 19 RBI and a .910 slugging percentage. Seriously, who slugs .910 over a three-week span?

Pitching highlight: Maybe Detwiler picked up a few pointers from John Lannan last night. And perhaps Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez can pick up a few pointers from Detwiler after this highly efficient performance. Detwiler didn't mess around at all, going right after Atlanta's hitters. He went to a three-ball count only five times all afternoon, walked just one batter and forced the Braves to put the ball in play. That was a highly effective strategy, especially once the Nationals had a comfortable lead. Detwiler now sports a 3.01 ERA in 14 starts this season. Yes, the Nats' No. 5 starter has a 3.01 ERA. That's not bad.

Key stat: On June 24, the Nationals as a team were hitting .238 with a .389 slugging percentage. In 24 games since then, they're hitting a collective .309 with a .498 slugging percentage.

Up next: Their homestand wrapped up, the Nats now hit the road for a seven-game trip through New York and Milwaukee. They open a three-game series against the Mets tomorrow at 7:10 p.m., with Jordan Zimmermann facing Chris Young.