For the second night in a row, the Nationals came through in a big way against the St. Louis Cardinals’ pitching staff June 15. Winning 10-0 against the Cardinals, the Nats have a combined 18 runs in the first two games of the series.
Nats’ first baseman Michael Morse led the offense in this one. He got things started in the bottom of the second inning with a solo home run, sending a pitch by Kyle McClellan to the visitors’ bullpen in left field.
Morse will see regular playing time for the remainder of the season as Adam LaRoche, the team’s opening-day first base starter, will miss the remainder of the season for shoulder surgery. According to Nationals Manager Jim Riggleman, while LaRoche will be missed in the lineup, Morse’s play since taking over the position softens the blow.
“He [LaRoche] did a lot for us and he’s still doing a lot for us,” Riggleman said after the game. “He’s a presence in the clubhouse still, and we look for him to get this thing straightened out and come back next year and do what he does. In the meantime, Mike’s doing a great job. Mike is seizing an opportunity here and just helping the ballclub win games.”
Washington took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning as right fielder Jayson Werth scored on a single by third baseman Ryan Zimmerman.
They scored three more in the bottom of the fourth inning as catcher Ivan Rodriguez singled in Morse after he led off the inning with a double. An error by Cardinals’ third baseman Albert Pujols allowed Nats’ rookie second baseman Danny Espinosa to score. A single by Nationals’ center fielder Roger Bernadina then put the team up 5-0 after four innings of play.
Pujols had two errors in Wednesday’s game. The decision by Cardinals’ manager Tony LaRussa to start Pujols at third, when he is one of the best first basemen in baseball defensively, is suspect.
A single by Nats’ shortstop Ian Desmond plated Rodriguez in the bottom of the sixth inning to make the score 6-0.
The Nats hit back-to-back home runs for the first time this season in the bottom of the seventh. The first came when Morse crushed his second home run of the game to left field, a two-run shot to put the Nationals up by eight. Morse now has 12 home runs this season. The next batter was Espinosa, who hit a solo home run to push the score to 9-0.
Werth hit his ninth home run of the year, a solo home run to left center field, to make it an even 10-0 in the bottom of the eighth inning.
But clearly it wasn’t just the offense that came through Wednesday; the Cardinals could not score thanks to a great pitching performance by Livan Hernandez, who pitched a complete game shutout, the ninth shutout of his career and the 50th complete game.
“He was vintage Livo there,” Riggleman said. “He was hitting his spots, good breaking ball, changing speeds. He just had it all going and we played good defense behind him. He was completely in control tonight.”
If the Nats could more consistently pitch and hit like they did Wednesday night, they will be a team that few want to play.