October 31, 2014

Washington Nationals Game 154 Review: Nats dig early hole, can’t climb out in 6-3 loss to Phils

Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson said after Monday’s win over the Brewers that he had his pitching rotation lined up the way he wanted it, with his three lefties scheduled to start against the Philadelphia Phillies in the three-game series. He may want to reconsider that notion after the Phillies spanked Ross Detwiler for five earned runs on their way to beating the Nats, 6-3, before an announced crowd of 42,304 at Citizen’s Bank Park.

To add insult to injury, the Atlanta Braves got a walk-off, two run home run from Freddie Freeman to defeat the Miami Marlins, 4-3, so the Nats lead in the N.L. East drops to four games and their “Magic Number” remains at five — with 8 games to play.

The Nats actually got on top first in the second inning, as Kurt Suzuki drove in Danny Espinosa with an RBI single to center field. But the Phils came right back against Detwiler (L, 10-7, 3.28). Rookie Darin Ruf, making his MLB debut after 38 home runs in Double-A this season, blasted his first big league home run to left center.

The Phillies went right back to work and did most of their damage in the third. Ryan Howard’s RBI single gave the Phils a 2-1 lead before Catcher Carlos Ruiz launched his 16th home run, a three run shot, to make it 5-1. Detwiler recovered and pitched two more solid innings before retiring after five innings, but the damage was done. All told, the lanky lefty gave up five earned runs on five hits and three walks, striking out just three, to go along with the two homers he surrendered.

The Nats made a game of it in the fifth against Cole Hamels (W, 16-6, 3.11). Bryce Harper singled to center to plate Suzuki, and Harper moved up to second on the throw. Ryan Zimmerman continued his hot-hitting ways, singling to left to drive in Harper, cutting the Phillies lead to 5-3. Unfortunately, that’s all the offense the Nats could muster.

After Hamels departed after five innings, the Phillies bullpen completely shut down the Nats attack. Five relievers combined for four innings of shutout, one-hit ball. The Phils didn’t need an insurance run, but got one anyway. Domonic Brown, who spent much of the season in Triple-A, homered against Craig Stammen in the sixth inning to close the scoring.

THE TAKEAWAY: The Nats had eight hits total, but five came from Suzuki (3) and Harper. The Nats didn’t get a single extra-base hit all night and were shut down in the late innings by a bunch of nobody middle relievers — and Jonathan Papelbon. Hopefully, it was just “one of those nights” and the Nats find their stroke Wednesday night.

As for Detwiler, it was really just the one inning where he struggled, but it was a doozy. He walked the first two batters — on nine pitches — then made a mistake to Ruiz, who’s been out most of the summer with plantar fasciitis. The Nats sure wished he’d stayed on the disabled list.

THE GOOD: Suzuki. He went 3-for-4 with an RBI and run scored. Harper went 2-for-4, drove in a run and scored.

THE BAD: Um, everyone else?

THE UGLY: Danny Espinosa. 0-for-3 with three strikeouts.

THE STATS: 8 hits, 1 BB, 11 Ks. 3-for-5 with RISP, 6 LOB, no GIDP. No errors, no DPs.

NEXT GAME: Wednesday at 7:05 pm against Philly. John Lannan (3-0, 4.43) faces Kyle Kendrick (10-11, 3.89).

About Dave Nichols

Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Washington Nationals, Capitals, Wizards and Mystics. Dave also covers national college football and basketball and Major League Soccer for Associated Press. He spent four years in radio covering the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Redskins and the University of Maryland football and basketball teams. Dave is a life-long D.C. sports fan and attended his first pro game in 1974 — the Caps’ second game in existence. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveNicholsDSP

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