August 8, 2020

Washington Nationals Game 34 Review: Strasburg roughed up in Arizona slugfest

Stephen Strasburg was pulled early from his last start, complaining of misalignment of his upper back and his still not-100 percent left ankle. A visit to a chiropractor was seemingly the solution, as the big righty took the mound Tuesday for the Washington Nationals for a start against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

He probably should have stayed on the trainer’s table.

Strasburg couldn’t get out of the fourth inning and was pounded for eight runs on eight hits and a walk and the Nats fell in embarrassing fashion, 14-6.

Strasburg got two quick outs in the first, then ran into trouble. He walked slugger Paul Goldschmidt, then David Peralta flared a single to left. Aaron Hill followed with a line drive double to right to plate both runners.

The Nats (18-16) got one back in the third. Danny Espinosa drew a four-pitch walk from Rubby De La Rosa and went to second on Strasburg’s two-strike sacrifice. Denard Span then doubled to the left center gap, scoring Espinosa easily. Yunel Escobar moved Span over to third with a ground out, but Jayson Werth flied out to end the inning.

Strasburg found more trouble in the third. Ender Inciarte took the second pitch of the inning — a 94-mph four-seam fastball — into the stands in right center for his first home run of the season.

Bryce Harper led off the fourth with double to right center, after fouling off several tough pitches. He went to third on Ryan Zimmerman’s base hit up the middle, but had to hold to make sure it went through. Wilson Ramos grounded into a double play, and Harper came home on the play to make it 3-2.

Arizona got that one — and much, much more — right back in the bottom half. Chris Owings lashed a triple to left center and scored immediately on Tuffy Gosewisch’s single. Nick Ahmed followed with a single and then De la Rosa tried to sacrifice, but Strasburg couldn’t find the handle and all hands were safe.

Inciarte lifted a sacrifice fly to score Gosewisch, but the damage wasn’t over. On the next pitch, Mark Trumbo crushed a hanging slider to left-center for his fifth homer of the season, ending Strasburg’s evening with the score 8-2.

Strasburg pitched 3 1/3 innings, striking out just three, and gave up eight runs, seven earned, on eight hits and a walk. He threw 72 pitches, 48 for strikes. He was up in the zone all night and never really looked comfortable. He horrible performance leaves his season ERA at 6.06 and WHIP at 1.71, while his K/BB ratio is a career-worst 3.2.

Sammy Solis relieved, and the lefty rookie allowed two more in the fifth. Aaron Hill singled and went to third on Owings’ double. Solis struck out Gosewisch and intentionally walked No. 8 hitter Ahmed to face De La Rosa. The strategy didn’t work, as the opposing pitcher singled to right to plate Hill. Inciarte followed with a sac fly to make it 10-2.

Harper continued his hot streak, though, with a two-run homer in the sixth, his 12th of the season. He reached for an outside breaking ball and muscled it out over right center.

Any thoughts of a comeback were quickly scuttled. Trumbo led off the bottom of the sixth with another home, his sixth of 2015. Arizona picked up three more in the frame to give the D-backs a 10-run lead at 14-4.

Washington managed to pick up two more runs in the ninth. Wilson Ramos led off with a single, moved up to second on Danny Espinosa’s single and scored on a double by Dan Uggla — all off reliever Andrew Chafin. Tyler Moore pinch-hit for Span and reached on a fielder’s choice, forcing Uggla at third, but Espinosa carried home the Nats second run of the inning. Escobar followed with a single to right and Arizona manager Chip Hale had seen enough and called on Randall Delgado to replace Chafin.

Werth hit a comebacker to end any thoughts of a rally.

HERO: Harper. His homer was a ray of sunshine on a stormy day.

GOAT: Strasburg, obviously. Look, he’s not right. The ankle is still bothering him, which is leading to all kinds of other problems. Put him on the DL, get him right, then get him back. Allowing him to get clobbered like this every fifth day while pitching on a bum ankle helps no one.

NATS NOTES:

  • The hits keep coming: Span, Harper and Zimmerman all had two-hit nights.
  • Walkin’ Man: Not shockingly, Harper also drw a walk to extend his N.L.. lead in that category.
  • Hometown hero: Phoenix native Sammy Solis got roughed up in his Arizona MLB debut. He gave up four earned runs on four hits and two walks in two innings in front of a huge crowd of family and friends.
  • No saving Grace: Fellow lefty rookie Matt Grace gave up two earned runs on three hits in 2/3 of an inning.
  • Pitching in: The Nats’ most effective pitcher? Outfielder Clint Robinson. He mopped up in the eighth and allowed one hit, did not walk a batter, and struck out one.

NEXT GAME: Wednesday at 3:40 pm EST. Gio Gonzalez (3-2, 3.62) faces Jeremy Hellickson (1-3, 5.85).

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 and is a copy editor for the Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, WA. 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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