September 20, 2019

Washington Nationals Game 66 Review: Nats shutout 5-0 by Rays

NATS STRUGGLE AGAINST RAYS JUST A DAY AFTER 16-RUN OUTBURST, LOSE 5-0

The Washington Nationals were shutout 5-0 by the Tampa Bay Rays just a day after hanging 16 runs on the board. Stephen Souza Jr. and Curt Casali had home runs, and the Rays would score three additional runs after the Nationals defense fell apart in the rain.

When is a starter not a starter? When the Tampa Bay Rays come to a National League city. The Rays put Steve Geltz on the mound tonight in the first, knowing full well he wouldn’t pitch in the bottom of the third. Trying to combat an offensive deficit as an AL team playing in an NL city, the Rays pinch-hit for their “starter” Geltz in the top of third.

It didn’t work out quite like they planned. Pinch-hitter Brandon Guyer grounded into a double-play, ending a short-lived rally and leaving everyone scratching their heads just a bit. Matt Andriese took over for Geltz in the 3rd, after Geltz threw two perfect innings, and then departed in the seventh, scattering two hits and a walk through four. Kevin Jepsen pitched a scoreless seventh, and Ronald Belisario a scoreless eighth.

Former Stephen Souza Jr. brought his bat to face his former teammate on Wednesday. Famous for his no-hitter saving catch in the 9th inning of Zimmermann’s no-hitter in late September 2014, Souza was 3-for-4 on the night, complete with a solo home run in the fifth inning. Curt Casali followed Souza’s knock with one of his own on a pitch that got away from Zimmermann, making it 2-0.

Ian Desmond struggled with some defensive issues in the sixth, missing a grounder up the middle for what was arguably an unplayable ball, and then compounded the situation, bobbling what should have been an easy double play. The Nats would escape from the situation, giving up only one run, but the damage was done.

And then the rain came.

As the eighth inning began, a hard rain fell on Nationals Park, causing many to wonder if the game might be paused or even called as the storm cell arrived. With a runner aboard, and two men down, the umpires seemed not to want to suspend the game mid-inning, and despite a healthy downpour, let Blake Treinen pitch to Stephen Souza Jr.

Souza, looking to bunt his way aboard, put a squib down the third base line. Treinen would lunge for the ball with his bare hand, and threw the wet ball down the first base line over the head of Danny Espinosa, advancing both of the runners. Bryce Harper charged in on the errant throw, and attempted to fire a strike to Yunel Escobar at third. Only, the ball was still quite wet, and left his hand a little wild. The ball ended up in the Rays dugout, and Souza claimed his little league home run, making it 5-0.

The Nationals had two hits on the night, and no matter how good your starting pitching is (and Zimmermann went 7IP, 3ER, 8K, BB, a strong evening), if you can’t put runners aboard, you’re going to fall short. A night after they put 16 runs and 23 hits on the board, they made three fielding errors, got just two hits, and scored nary a thing.

Baseball.

HERO: No hero tonight, my friends. Well, maybe Stephen Souza Jr. But they traded him this off-season. So. There’s that.

GOAT: Ian Desmond, Blake Treinen and Bryce Harper for their error-laden performance.

NATS NOTES:

  • The 27-minute rain delay in the 8th was the shortest delay of the season so far for the Nationals
  • Former National Stephen Souza Jr leads all rookies in home runs with 13.

NEXT UP: Rubber match with the Rays tomorrow night, 7:05pm, Chris Archer (7-4, 2.00) vs. Doug Fister (2-2, 4.31)

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