The Nationals played their second game at Camden Yards on Thursday night and came up short, losing to the Orioles 4-3. The Nationals left nine men on base, and failed to score runs when they had two golden opportunities to do so.
Ryan Zimmerman served as DH for the game for the second night in a row, and went 2-4 with an RBI. Kevin Frandsen played second base.
Gio Gonzalez was the starting pitcher for the Nationals. He entered the game riding a twenty-two game scoreless inning streak, but that streak came to an end in the first inning. Steve Pearce hit a home run in the bottom of the inning to put the Orioles up 1-0.
The Orioles made the score 4-0 in the bottom of the third. With two outs, Gonzalez walked Nick Markakis on four pitches, all to the same spot away from the hitter. Pearce singled and then Adam Jones doubled to score Markakis with Pearce being held at third. Nelson Cruz hit a ball to Ian Desmond, who might have been able to throw Cruz out at first, although it would have been close. Instead, Desmond threw to third to try to get the out, but he airmailed the ball over Anthony Rendon’s head. That allowed Jones to score. The play was ruled a hit and an error on Desmond. Gonzalez got Chris Davis to groundout to end the inning.
Wei-Yin Chen pitched for the Orioles and was pretty effective until the sixth inning. The Nationals scored one run in the top of the fourth inning. After Rendon singled and Adam LaRoche was hit by a pitch (which was not ruled an HBP until after manager Matt Williams challenged the non-call and won the challenge), Zimmerman doubled to drive in Rendon.
The Nationals struck again in the sixth inning. Jayson Werth led off the inning with a home run, his tenth of the year. LaRoche struck out, but then Zimmerman doubled. Bryce Harper flew out, but Desmond doubled to score Zimmerman. That was the end of Chen’s night, and the Orioles brought in reliever Tommy Hunter to put out the fire. He got Wilson Ramos to ground out to end the inning.
Gonzalez did not allow any more runs after the third inning and pitched into the seventh inning. With two on and two out, Gonzalez gave way to reliever Aaron Barrett, who got Pearce to groundout to end the inning.
The Nationals had their golden opportunity in the top of the eighth against reliever Darren O’Day. Werth struck out for the first out. LaRoche doubled, but then Zimmerman struck out. With two outs, Buck Showalter elected to walk Harper to set up the lefty-righty matchup with Desmond. O’Day did not have good control and was throwing the ball all over the place. On a passed ball both base runners moved up, putting runners on second and third. Desmond was then hit by a pitch on his right hand, and was obviously in a lot of pain. That loaded the bases for Ramos. Unfortunately, Ramos flew out to right field to end the inning, making contact with a pitch that would have been called a ball if he had let it go.
Desmond came out to play the field in the bottom of the eighth, but after taking one warmup throw came out of the game. There is no word at this time as to the extent of Desmond’s injury to his throwing hand. Nats fans will have to wait and see if he is just sore or if the injury is more serious. Danny Espinosa came in to play shortstop.
Since they failed to score in the eighth, the Nats had to face Orioles closer Zach Britton. Frandsen ground out. Scott Hairston pinch hit for Denard Span, and he ground out also. Rendon hit a dribbler up the third base line that stayed fair for a single. Werth came to the plate as the last hope for the Nats. During the at bat, he fouled a ball off his foot and was taking his time getting back in the box. Home plate umpire C.B. Buckner told Werth to get in the box, which is unusual for an umpire to do in these situations. Werth told Buckner he couldn’t feel his foot and continued to walk around and try to get his foot straightened out enought to continue the at bat. Williams came out to have words with Buckner, and Showalter was yelling at Werth to get in the box from the Orioles dugout. Werth eventually took his place at the plate and ground out to end the game.
Next Game: The Nationals start a three game series against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. This is the Nats last series before the All Star break. Jordan Zimmerman (6-4, 2.79 ERA) is scheduled to pitch for the Nationals, and he will be facing A.J. Burnett (5-8, 3.92 ERA).