The Washington Nationals crushed the Tampa Bay Rays tonight 16-4 to split a two game set in Tampa Bay. In tonight’s game, the Nats had 23 hits, which is a franchise record as the offense finally broke out.
The Nats put together most of their runs on three huge innings, starting with the top of the second. Clint Robinson lead off and smashed a solo home run that literally hit the catwalk in Tropicana Field. After a towering home run, the club decided to play a bit of small ball with back-to-back bunt base hits from Danny Espinosa and Michael Taylor. After an Ian Desmond strikeout and a Denard Span walk, Anthony Rendon worked a great at-bat and earned a walk to score a run and made the score 2-0.
With the bases still loaded, Yunel Escobar singled to left, scoring both Taylor and Span, to push the tally to 4-0. Wilson Ramos then drove a ball to right for a sacrifice fly that scored Rendon from third. Robinson, after starting the inning off with a massive homer, capped the scoring with a double to center after Kevin Kiermaier laid out for the catch, but could not come up with it. Escobar scored on the play, but Bryce Harper was thrown out at home to end the six-run inning.
The Nationals again had a huge inning in the top of the fifth, and, again, they started it off with another massive homer, this time off the bat of Bryce Harper. After a Ramos groundout, Robinson walked and Danny Espinosa singled, which put runners on first and second with one out. Taylor and Desmond both hit back-to-back singles to score two more runs and make it 9-0.
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Span then smacked one to left, which should have been the second out of the inning, but David DeJesus could not handle the fly ball and allowed Taylor to score. Rendon then flied out and Desmond was picked off at the plate trying to score, halting the damage at 10-0.
Tanner Roark pitched exactly like you should with a huge lead by pumping strikes and pitching to contact. He pitched seven innings and gave up six scattered hits. His only tough inning was the bottom of the fifth, where he gave up a double to Rene Rivera and a single to Kevin Kiermaier. Since he was working with a 10-0 lead, the Nationals gave up a run on a groundout and Roark was able to get out of the inning with no further damage.
Unfortunately for the Rays, the Nationals were not done with their damage for the night and continued to pile on the runs in the top of the seventh. Robinson continued his great night with a single, followed by another single, from Espinosa. After a Taylor fly out, Desmond then walked loading the bases and set up Span for a RBI single that scored Robinson to make it 11-1. A Rendon singled and another sac fly from Escobar made it 13-1.
By this point, both clubs were starting to rest their regulars and Tampa Bay trotted out two position players to pitch the top of the eighth and ninth.Wilson Ramos took full advantage by blasting two homers in two consecutive innings to make the score 16-1.
After getting seven great innings from Tanner, Felipe Rivero pitched a perfect eighth, but Drew Storen struggled a bit by giving up a three run homer in the bottom of the ninth, which made the final score 16-4.
Next Game: The Washington Nationals (34-31) will travel back to DC to play another two-game set against the Tampa Bay Rays (36-30) at 7:05 PM ET on MASN2 and ESPN2. Jordan Zimmermann (5-4, 3.74 ERA) will start for the Nationals against Matt Andriese (1-1, 3.76 ERA) for the Rays.