Photo by Anthony Amobi / Nationals News Network
Tony La Russa’s St. Louis Cardinals are a very good baseball team. Albert Pujols is an undisputed All-Star whose slugging abilities rank him among the best of the best when it comes to Major League hitters. Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainright are Cy Young contenders. Yadier Molina is the third catcher in baseball history to play in two World Series before the age of 25. And that’s just to name of a few of the notables.
But – somehow – thanks to a little perseverance and gritty desire, the Washington Nationals won the four-game weekend series 3-1 showing that they’ve still got a bit of feistiness stirring up in their bellies.
“We played good clean baseball. When we don’t make errors, because we’ve got a pretty good offensive ballclub and our pitchers pitch to contact, we don’t strike out a lot of people, so when we play good defense like we did in this series we’re tough to beat. We’re competitive with everybody. You think pitching and you think hitting but defense is huge and when we play good defense like that it just gives us a chance to win that many more ball games,” Riggleman said.
John Lannan had his best outing of the season Sunday afternoon. Lannan spent some time in the minors during the season after his best pitch, his sinker, stopped sinking at the big league level. “When he’s getting some balls to the left side of the infield it’s not just that those guys really suck everything up over there, but [that’s] an indication that he’s getting the hitters to do with the ball what he’s trying to get them to do.”
Lannan minimized his pitches, went deep in the game, had the Cardinals’ bats hitting balls to the left side of the infield for contact, and was extremely efficient both on the mound and behind the plate. “The quality of his at-bats today, really I mean the hit is the icing on the cake. That was beautiful,” Riggleman said.
Washington scored their first runs of the game during the second inning thanks to a hard hit two-RBI double from Lannan off St. Louis right-hander Adam Wainright. From there, the Nats battled at the dish, forcing Wainright to throw 104 pitches in five innings.
Drew Storen came in for a save opportunity with two outs in the eighth after Lannan threw 93 pitches during his longest outing of the season.
The Cardinals did score two runs to catch up to the Nats who held the game at 4-0 until the seventh. Lannan gave up one run when Javier Molina hit a single to send Matt Holliday around to score and Drew Storen gave up a home run to Pedro Feliz in the ninth.
This is the first series victory for the Nationals against the Cardinals since completing a sweep in DC from August 3-5, 2007.
On the Road: Washington begins a three-game series against their division against the Florida Marlins with all games starting at 7:10. Then after an off day on Thursday, the Nats head to Pittsburgh to face the cellar-ridden Pirates for three-games over the weekend with 7:05 starts on Friday and Saturday and a 1:35 start on Sunday.