July 23, 2014

Washington Nationals Game 4 Review: Reds’ six homers bring Nats back down to earth with first loss

After starting the season with a commanding 3-0 record, the Washington Nationals (3-1) gave up six home runs to the Cincinnati Reds (3-1) Friday night at the Great American Ball Park in a tough-to-swallow 15-0 loss.

Dan Haren’s first start of the season was a rough one, however, he gave up just one hit – to Joey Votto, in the first – before Cincinnati did its first round of damage in the second inning.

Washington’s offense fell silent against the Reds’ pitching, nonetheless. Right-hander Homer Bailey tossed six scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and three walks.

In the second, Todd Frazier and shortstop Zack Cozart hit back-to-back home runs  to give the Reds an early 2-0 lead in what quickly became a slugfest for Cincinnati.

The Nats, on the other hand, managed to post just five hits -which paled in comparison to the Reds’ 19 on the night.

In the top of the third, Danny Espinosa led off with a single to right and, with two outs, Denard Span walked, but Jayson Werth grounded out to end the Nats’ opportunity to come back.

Unfortunately for Washington, Votto and Brandon Phillips led off the third with back-to-back singles and, with two outs, Cozart homered once again to give the Reds an early 5-0 lead.

Cincinnati’s Shin-Soo Choo hammered a one-out solo shot 409 feet to center to put the Red to expand the Reds’ lead to 6-0 in the fourth and, despite a Roger Bernadina walk and a Span single, the Nats came up empty again in the top of the fifth.

Cozart’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning scored Todd Frazier, who had singled and reached third on a throwing error by Kurt Suzuki to give the Nats hope of a rally.

By the seventh inning, the Reds all but made a mockery of the Nats’ relief pitching corps.

Zach Duke gave up a single to Phillips and an RBI double to Jay Bruce before Frazier hit his second homer of the night – a two-run shut to right – to put the Reds on top with a seemingly untouchable 10-0 lead.

In case 10 runs weren’t quite enough, Henry Rodriguez handed Xavier Paul his first career pinch-hit grand slam. Paul rocketed a 2-1 fastball to right field – nearly 430 feet from the batter’s box – plating Devin Mesoraco, Manny Parra and Shin-Soo Choo to make it 14-0.

To add salt to Washington’s wounds, Ryan Mattheus came on to pitch the bottom of the eighth and allowed a lead-off double to Bruce before Frazier singled him in, giving Cincinnati a final score of 15-0.

Ian Desmond doubled in the top of the ninth to give the Nats hope of breaking the shutout, but Espinosa and Suzuki failed to bat him in.


THE TAKEAWAY:
 Nationals’ pitching allowed three solo shots, a two-run home run, a three-run home run and a pinch-hit grand slam. Dan Haren gave up nine hits, and six runs – four of which were homers – to total a 13.50 ERA.

Zach Duke and Henry Rodriguez fared no better. Duke allowed six runs in just 2.2 innings pitched – five of which were earned – to bring his ERA to 16.88 and Rodriguez earned just one out – but gave up two runs and a homer in his short stint.

Even Ryan Mattheus gave up a run on two hits in the eighth, but his ERA remained stomachable at 4.50.

All the while, the Nats only earned three extra-base hits on doubles by Danny Espinosa, Steve Lombardozzi and Ian Desmond.

THE GOOD:
 Hard to come up with one as the Nationals’ will surely want to forget this outing. The glass-half-full approach might be to say that the Nats’ pitching got very acquainted with the Reds’ batting order.

On a lighter note, Danny Espinosa went 2-for-4 on a night when the rest of Washington’s batting order struggled to make contact.

THE BAD: Not a single pitcher for the Nats recorded a decent outing Friday night. Add to that, Jayson Werth, Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche and Kurt Suzuki were all hitless against the Reds.

THE UGLY: Washington gave up six home runs to the Reds, including two of which Davey Johnson tried to contest.

THE STATS: The Nationals: 5 hits, three doubles, no runs scored, 7 K, 0-for-8 with RISP, 8 LOB, 2 errors (Suzuki, Desmond), 1 double play

The Reds: 19 hits, 15 runs, 3 doubles, 6 home runs, 10 K, 4-for-10 with RISP, 6 LOB, 1 double play

NEXT GAME: Saturday, 1:10 p.m. ET, Ross Detwiler vs. right-hander Mike Leake

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