July 22, 2014

Washington Nationals Game 93 Review: Strasburg suffers worst career start in Nats’ 8-3 loss to Marlins

After notching three runs in the first inning, the Washington Nationals still managed to fall, 8-3, to the Miami Marlins Friday night in what marked the worst start of Stephen Strasburg’s career.

Strasburg tossed just two innings against the Marlins but, in that time-frame, he had given up seven earned runs on five hits and four walks, blowing a three-run lead by the bottom of the first.

The Nats’ half-inning lead was made possible by Ian Desmond’s single, sandwiched between two walks off Nathan Eovaldi (W, 2-0). After Ryan Zimmerman struck out, Adam LaRoche doubled in Span and Desmond. Harper came home on a Jayson Werth grounder and, just like that, the Nationals were sitting pretty.

Or so it looked.

It quickly became clear that Strasburg had absolutely no control of his pitches in the bottom of the first. Justin Ruggiano, Giancarlo Stanton and Logan Morrison each drew walks and all came home on a Marcell Ozuna triple with just one out. But, the onslaught didn’t end there.

Derek Dietrich singled to right to bat in Ozuna and Eovaldi himself singled home Dietrich to make it 5-3 Miami before the start of the second inning.

In the bottom of the second, Ed Lucas drew yet another walk off Strasburg before Stanton hit a two-run shot to make it 7-3 Marlins.

Strasburg went on to retire the next three batters faced, but Davey Johnson had already seen enough.

If the Nationals had anything to write home about Friday night’s matchup, it was Ross Ohlendorf’s performance. The mid-June call-up struck out four and allowed just one hit and two walks in four innings pitched.

Miami tallied one last run in the bottom of the seventh after Fernando Abad gave up a single to Dietrich. Adeiny Hechavarria then came through with a double that made it 8-3 Miami.

Washington had two shots at spoiling the shutout – in the seventh and eighth innings – with two batters on base on both occasions. But, Miami’s Ryan Webb, Mike Dunn and Chad Qualls combined efforts to keep the Nats from crossing home plate safely.

With the loss, the Nationals have now dropped four of five games from the current seven-day road stretch. Washington is now 20-28 in away games this season.

THE GOOD: The Nationals have little cause to celebrate after Friday’s loss, but, at the very least, Ross Ohlendorf deserves acknowledgement for providing four solid innings of relief.

He hit the same pitch count as Stephen Strasburg – 66 – in double the number of innings and threw 43 pitches for strikes, compared to Strasburg’s 33.

Adam LaRoche went 1-for-4 with a double and two of the Nationals’ three RBIs. The other Washington double came off the bat of Jayson Werth, who recorded the third RBI of the game.

Also worth noting, Anthony Rendon turned a number of sharp defensive plays – further erasing from everyone’s minds that he had never been a second baseman before this season.

THE BAD: Stephen Strasburg recorded the worst start of his career, posting a final line of 2.0 IP, 5 H, 7 ER, 4 BB, 2 K, 1 HR.

The Nationals’ only runs came in the first inning. From there, they hardly posed a threat against Miami pitching. Their offense essentially shut down for the final eight innings of play.

THE UGLY: When Strasburg walks three of the first four batters he faces, on a total of 20 innings pitched, you know you’re in for a rough game.

THE STATS: 3 R, 6 H, 6 BB, 8 K, 1-for-8 RISP, 8 LOB

NEXT GAME: Saturday, 7:15 p.m. at Marlins Park. RHP Dan Haren (4-10, 6.00) vs. RHP Jose Fernandez (5-5, 2.83)

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