Game #21 Recap: Tough First Inning Dooms Nats
The Nationals sent Stephen Strasburg to the hill for the final game of the series against the St. Louis Cardinals. It was a salvage job for the Nats, but they were not able to come through and the Cardinals left with a sweep.
The game started quickly and decisively. Matt Carpenter lead off the game with a strange double, squeaking into second base safely. After Strasburg was able to get Allen Craig out, Matt Holliday singled and Carlos Beltran drew a walk. Yadier Molina singled to right field and was able to plate Carpenter and Beltran, putting the Nationals in a 2-0 hole. A goofy play by rookie Anthony Rendon allowed the inning to continue and Beltran to score. The damage was done and the Nationals were down 3-0 when a nifty double play started by Rendon ended the inning.
It was time for the Nationals offense to go to work and bail Strasburg out, but they were unable to do so. The Nationals had opportunities, getting runners on at various times throughout the game, but they could not seem to get the big hit at the right time to plate anyone. It wasn't until the bottom of the 6th inning that the Nationals were able to muster any runs. Strasburg lead off with a hit, followed up quickly by a single from Denard Span. Ground outs from Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper were able to move runners over, then score Strasburg.
Meanwhile, Strasburg had settled into the game quite nicely. Strasburg was able to set the Cardinals down in quick succession after the first inning, and ultimately went a strong 7 innings. Strasburg's final line was 7 innings, 5 hits, 3 runs, a walk, and 7 strikeouts.
In the top of the 8th, the Cardinals were able to work another run off Drew Storen and the Nationals, getting back the run Strasburg scored. The Nationals offense just could not do anything to bring the Nationals back into the game and get Strasburg off the hook. Jayson Werth was able to connect for his 4th home run of the season in the 8th inning to make it 4-2, but it would be the last of the offense for the Nationals on the day.
The loss drops the Nationals under .500 for the first time since the 2011 season. The Nationals are missing a big bat with Ryan Zimmerman on the DL, but must find ways to get runs. The Cincinnati Reds come to D.C. for a four game set and will try to get back on track.