The San Francisco Giants took on two of the game’s best pitchers in the nation’s capital and came out on top.
The San Francisco Giants began a 10-day road trip in Washington on Friday and it was the start of 17 consecutive games without an off day. On Sunday, the Giants left the nation’s capital with a series win, beating Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg to do it.
Brandon Crawford took Scherzer to the second deck for a two-run home run in the fourth inning and the Giants held on for a 2-0 victory in the series finale. The red-hot Crawford had four hits in the contest, three of which came against Scherzer, becoming the first Giant ever to do so against the reigning Cy Young Award winner.
After a slow start, hitting just .190 for the month of April, Crawford batted .412 in May and is hitting at a .533 clip so far in June. He has improved his average to .338 on the season and could garner some MVP consideration at the end of the season if he keeps it up.
Derek Holland earned the win after battling through the tough Nationals lineup over five shutout innings. Holland was able to get 15 swings through strikes against Washington hitters. The Giants turned it over to the bullpen from there and got scoreless innings each from Mark Melancon, Sam Dyson, Tony Watson, and Hunter Strickland.
The Giants began the series with the tall task of taking on Stephen Strasburg on Friday. Andrew McCutchen got to Strasburg in the first inning with a solo homer to left-center on a high fastball. San Francisco tacked on two more runs in the second on an RBI single by Alen Hanson and a run-scoring double by Hunter Pence. Strasburg was removed from the game after the second inning and subsequently placed on the 10-day DL with shoulder tightness.
Gorkys Hernandez smacked a 2-run homer in the fourth to increase the Giants lead to 5-0 but the Nats would battle back. 19-year old rookie sensation, Juan Soto took starter Andrew Suarez deep for a 2-run shot. Crawford responded in the fifth with an RBI double, but Bryce Harper chased Suarez in the bottom half of the inning with a 2-run single.
Suarez only lasted 4 1/3 innings and the Giants were forced to call on the relievers to keep Washington from coming all the way back. The San Francisco bullpen did just that, getting the remaining 14 outs giving up just one run on three hits.
Clinging to just a one-run lead in the seventh the Giants rallied for three runs to quell any further comeback attempts from Washington. Pablo Sandoval and Pence each had RBI singles and Evan Longoria added a sacrifice fly.
The lone blemish of the series came Saturday when the Giants fell 7-5 to the Nats. In just his second Major League start, Dereck Rodriguez struggled with his command and Washington took advantage. The Nationals struck for one run in the first and four more in the second to open up a 5-0 lead.
In the third inning, Nick Hundley took the Gio Gonzalez offering into the left-field bullpen for a 3-run homer, his seventh of the year, to bring the Giants back within striking distance.
McCutchen added a sacrifice fly in the fourth to cut the deficit to 5-4, but the Giants could not get one more hit to draw even. Longoria went down on strikes with runners on 1st and 2nd to end the threat.
Harper hit a towering solo blast off of Ty Blach in the bottom of the fourth to put Washington back up by two runs. Hundley doubled in McCutchen in the seventh inning, yet the Giants again stranded the tying run in scoring position.
With runners on the corners, Mac Williamson and Crawford both struck out to end the inning. The Nationals added an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh and went on to win 7-5.
The Giants are off to Miami for a four-game set with the Marlins and then wrap the road trip up with a dustup against the arch-rival Dodgers in Los Angeles.