August 20, 2019

Washington Nationals Game 67 Review: Harper injured in loss to Rays

HARPER INJURED IN 5-3 LOSS TO TAMPA BAY RAYS

The Washington Nationals were washed away in a rain delay by the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday night, giving up four runs after a short downpour delay, as manager Matt Williams left Doug Fister on the mound two or three batters too many. The Rays struck for four runs in the sixth, as Fister worked on fumes for ten pitches before Williams came out with the hook. Shortly before Fister’s departure, Bryce Harper came up lame on an errant throw in right field, clutching his left knee and hamstring.

The Nationals leapt out to a 2-0 lead off Chris Archer in the first, getting a pair of walks and a pair of hits to keep the line moving. Denard Span lead off with a single, and advanced on a steal as Anthony Rendon swung through strike three. Escobar got his first of five hits on the night, moving Span to third. With runners at the corners, the Rays had to pitch to Bryce Harper, who hit a comebacker off Archer’s lower leg and out into left field to plate the first run of the night. Wilson Ramos joined the parade with a walk, ahead of Danny Espinosa, who grounded into a fielder’s choice that scored Escobar, completing the rally.

The Rays got one back in the second, putting three singles together from Stephen Souza Jr., Asdrubal Cabrera, and Jake Elmore, forcing Fister up to 44 pitches after just two innings. While Fister’s location was looking solid, a mounting pitch-count wasn’t looking favorable for the Nationals. Fister came out for the sixth having thrown more than 70 pitches.

If you’re the manager, you’re tracking where your guy is, you’re tracking where his pitch count is, where his movement is working and where it’s not, and you’re thinking ahead. Why Treinen wasn’t warming in the pen when Fister took the mound is a mystery to me. But there we were, as Fister gave up a weak home run to Joey Butler to start the sixth, making it 3-2.

That was the first opportunity to pull Fister.

Then Evan Longoria singled sharply, finding Fister’s changeup. That was the second opportunity.

The third came the very next better as Logan Forsythe found his cutter for another single.

Fister pitched to two more batters after that, surrendering the lead after Harper made the aforementioned fateful throw and collapsed in right field, allowing the runners to score as his throw hopped into the bullpen. The Nationals trailed 5-3 when it was all done, and that was how the game ended.

The offense, after an early start, couldn’t assemble a run in the last seven innings of Thursday’s loss. In the last three innings, the Nationals put four men on base, but couldn’t drive home a single one.

THE GOOD: The Nationals picked up 12 hits tonight, substantially better than the night before. Yunel Escobar and Denard Span continue to just straight rake the ball. Danny Espinosa had a pair of doubles.

THE BAD: That sixth inning was a total disaster for the Nationals.

THE UGLY: Why did Matt Williams leave Fister out there to struggle? What possible reason is there for that?

NATS NOTES:

  • Tonight’s 17-minute rain delay was shorter still than last night’s!
  • Escobar’s 5 for 5 was his third five-hit night of the 2015 campaign.

NEXT UP: The Pirates are coming! A.J. Burnett (6-2, 1.89) vs Joe Ross (1-1, 3.46).

About Tom Bridge

Tom Bridge is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Nationals. Tom has been in love with baseball since he was 10. He is a founding editor of We Love DC, where he covered the Nationals and Capitals as a credentialed writer for four seasons. He grew up as an Oakland Athletics fan in the Central Valley in California, where he learned to appreciate Bill King, Mark McGwire and even Tony LaRussa. By day, he is a partner at Technolutionary LLC, where he handles IT operations. He cannot abide the Cardinals. You can follow Tom on Twitter @TomBridgeDSP.

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