Washington Nationals Recap: Nats’ Bats Go Cold in 5-0 Loss to Rays


The Washington Nationals (34-32) were shutout by the Tampa Bay Rays (37-30) Wednesday night as Bryce Harper & company were held to just two hits in a 5-0 route. Jordan Zimmermann (5-4, 3.75 ERA) made the start and gave up three earned runs on eight hits over seven inning. He struck out eight and walked one in the loss. The Nats also struggled defensively, giving up three errors and two unearned runs.

Rays’ manager Kevin Cash sent reliever SteveGeltz (1-2, 2.45) to the mound to start the game in an effort to bring up a pinch hitter early in the game that could make an impact rather than send an American League pitcher to the plate. Handing Geltz the ball to start the game did work out well, as he retired all six batters he faced in two perfect innings of work. However, the pinch hitter tactic did not, as  Brandon Guyer grounded into a double play in his only at-bat in the third inning.

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Zimmermann started off the game hot, heading into the fifth, having only allowed three hits. The Rays broke open the scoring off solo home runs by Steven Souza and Curt Casali in that inning. That would not be it for the Tampa Bay offense however, as the next inning with runners on the corners and one out, Logan Forsythe grounded into a sure-fire double play to Ian Desmond, but the Nats’ shortstop bobbled the ball and everyone was safe. Zimmermann would go on to pitch one more scoreless inning, sending the Nats into the eighth down 3-0.

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Blake Treinen came in relief to keep the Rays’ lead at three. Unfortunately for the Nats, with two outs and a runner on first, Steven Souza came up to the plate. He laid a bunt down the third base line, which was fielded by Treinen. Fielding it cleanly, Blake threw the ball to first but it was too high for first baseman Danny Espinosa to reach.

By the time right fielder Bryce Harper reached the ball, former National David DeJesus was rounding third. Harper gunned it home but way off line, causing the ball to roll into the third base dugout, and sending Souza home with a little league home run. Both runs were unearned, and Treinen retired Asdrubal Cabrera next to end the inning.

After the fiasco that was the top of the eighth, heavy rain began to fall over Nationals Park. Crew chief Paul Schrieber called the players off the field, and the Nats and Rays sat out a 30 minute rain delay.

The Nats’ offense went missing after Tuesday night’s hit parade, with Harper,  Desmond, and Michael Taylor being the only players that reached base. Anthony Rendon snapped his seven-game hitting streak, and Danny Espinosa had his six straight on-base appearance snapped as well. Rendon, Espinosa, Yunel Escobar, Clint Robinson, Jose Lobaton, and  Taylor combined to go 0-19 with two walks and three strikeouts.

Casey Janssen came in for the ninth and made things interesting by allowing two hits. He eventually stranded both runners, getting Evan Longoria to strike out swinging to end the inning. For the Rays, Ronald Belisario set down the Nats in 1-2-3 fashion to end the game.

Next Game: The Nationals finish the four game set with Tampa Bay at 7:05 PM ET in Washington DC Thursday night. Doug Fister (2-2, 4.31) returns from the disabled list to take on Chris Archer (7-4, 2.00). The game can be seen on MASN and WUSA 9.

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