While the Washington Nationals have struggled at the plate over the first seven games of the season, it’s been their defense that has also been medicore, to say the least. Coming into today, the Nats had five errors, which was tied for the second most in the National League. While the team only had one error on the day in the 9-4 loss to the Red Sox, there was miscommunication on multiple plays defensively and the Red Sox made the Nats and Jordan Zimmermann pay for those mistakes.
The day started with the announcement that Jayson Werth would make his first start of 2015 in left field and bat cleanup after missing the first six games of the year due to shoulder surgery. Matt den Dekker would be sent down to triple-A Syracuse to make room for Werth.
Despite the blowout loss, Washington had a chance early against Rick Porcello. Yunel Escobar picked up a bloop single with one out in the inning. Then, Bryce Harper hit a flyball to right field that appeared to be a home run, but Mookie Betts leaped over the wall in right center field to make an outstanding catch.
Jordan Zimmermann had a rough day today as he had trouble locating his fastball right from the onset. After a leadoff walk to Mookie Betts, the shift on David Ortiz would allow Betts to steal second and third base on the same play. Matt Williams would challenge, but the play ultimately stood. Ortiz would drive in Boston’s first run with a single to left over the head of Jayson Werth.
The second inning was where the defensive issues would begin to take place. Ian Desmond would commit his fifth error of the season as he made a throwing error on a groundball by Xander Bogaerts. After former Nats catcher Sandy Leon (who had three hits on the day) singled to right, Betts would hit a three-run homer over the Green Monster to make it 4-0 Red Sox.
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Zimmermann’s problems with control would continue in the third when he hit Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval to start the inning. After Michael Taylor misplayed a Napoli fly ball in center field, Xander Bogaerts would drive home a run with a RBI single.
Harper and Taylor would also let a fly ball drop in between them off the bat of Leon in the inning to extend the lead to 6-0. A Betts infield single (misplayed by Desmond) made it 7-0. Zimmermann was pulled after just 2.1 innings. After Tanner Roark gave up a sac fly to Dustin Pedroia, the scoring would stop in the inning. Zimmermann gave up seven earned runs on nine hits, walked one batter, and had no strikeouts in his second start of the year.
Washington would finally get to Porcello in the top of the fifth inning when Ryan Zimmerman led off the inning with a home run to dead center field, his second of the season. After a Clint Robinson triple to center, Danny Espinosa would drive home Robinson on a RBI groundout to first to cut the deficit to 8-2.
David Ortiz would tack on his second RBI of the day in the sixth when he crushed a fastball from Roark the opposite way for his second homer of the year to make it 9-2. However, give credit to Roark, Aaron Barrett, and Xavier Cedeno for giving the rest of the bullpen a day off. The three pitchers combined to give up the lone run by Ortiz on four hits over the final 5.2 innings.
The Nationals would score a run in the seventh when Ian Desmond hit a RBI groundout to short to score Zimmerman, who reached on a throwing error by Sandoval. Then, in the eighth, Danny Espinosa would lead off with a home run to right for his first home run of the year. Espinosa continues to hit the ball well from the left side after hitting exclusively from the right side this spring.
Despite giving up four runs to Washington, Rick Porcello did his job as he gave most of the Red Sox bullpen a day off. He went eight innings, gave up three earned runs on four hits, walked one, and struck out six.
The Washington Nationals (2-5) will be back in action tomorrow night at 6:10 PM ET on MASN against the Red Sox (5-2). Stephen Strasburg will make his second start of the season against Justin Masterson.