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The Washington Nationals are loaded with talent. On Friday night at Fenway Park, they brought their well-balanced roster into a weekend series and defeated the Red Sox 7-4 led by a dominant Stephen Strasburg. The Washington team has received a great amount of attention this season for their uprising success, as well as the emergence of 19-year-old outfielder Bryce Harper. On this night, the combination of the two young superstars was too much for the Sox to handle.
The Red Sox started Felix Doubront, who had been one of their more consistent pitchers entering the game. Unfortunately he lacked effectiveness on Friday, surrendering six earned runs over just four innings of work. The big blow came in the fourth inning when Harper blasted a two-run shot out by the triangle in center field. It was one of three hits for Harper who showed off both his bat and his defense, robbing Jarrod Saltalamacchia of extra bases early in the game.
Strasburg was striking out Sox hitter left and right. He received his seventh win of the year after throwing six innings, striking out 13 batters, none bigger than in his last inning of work. In the sixth, Strasburg struck out both Saltalamacchia and Kevin Youkilis to end a bases-loaded threat with the Sox trailing 7-2 at the time. Youkilis was 0-3 with three of Strasburg’s strikeouts and was ejected after furiously arguing with home plate umpire Doug Eddings on the called strike three.
One of the bright spots in the game was Adrian Gonzalez, who has suddenly started to mash the ball. He had two hits, including his 200th career home run in the eighth, and was robbed by Xavier Nady in right field of what could have been his 200th home run earlier in the game. He did pop out to end the game, ending a potential Sox rally.
Saturday, the Sox go at it again with the Nationals as interleague play is well underway. Daisuke Matsuzaka makes his much anticipated return to the major leagues after a year removed from Tommy John surgery. He will be opposed by Gio Gonzalez, who has been a huge part of the Nats success this year, looking for his eighth win and posting a remarkable 2.31 ERA.