May 5, 2015, 10:40 PM EDT
GAME IN A NUTSHELL: After a 28-minute rain delay, Stephen Strasburg took the mound trying to duplicate his rotation mates’ recent string of dominance and pitch the Nationals to their fourth straight win. Something, though, clearly wasn’t right with Strasburg from the beginning, who labored through three innings, was visited on the mound by a trainer and had dugout conversations with pitching coach Steve McCatty after each inning.
With their starter pulled after only three frames, the Nationals needed something extra out of their bullpen, and they got it from Sammy Solis, who tossed three scoreless innings in his second career appearance. Blake Treinen, Matt Thornton and Aaron Barrett each put up a zero as well, keeping the Nationals’ deficit at 2-1 throughout the evening.
But they simply couldn’t push across the tying run against Mat Latos or a Miami bullpen that combined to allow only three hits in the entire game, only one after the third inning. Thus concluded a frustrating night for the Nationals, whose winning streak is over and who now wait to find out Strasburg’s status.
HITTING LOWLIGHT: They didn’t have many opportunities, not when they only managed three hits in the game (one of which was a pinch-hit by Doug Fister of all people). Perhaps their best chance to rally, though, came in the seventh, when Latos issued a pair of walks. The Nats still couldn’t deliver the big hit. Ian Desmond struck out looking at an admittedly outside fastball. Michael Taylor grounded into a fielder’s choice and Clint Robinson was robbed of a potential game-tying hit by a diving Dee Gordon at second base. That’s the kind of night it was.
PITCHING LOWLIGHT: We don’t know yet what exactly was wrong with Strasburg, but something certainly didn’t look right. He grimaced after throwing several pitches, and his command was all over the place (he even hit a batter on a wayward changeup). Matt Williams and head trainer Lee Kuntz did come out to check on Strasburg during the second inning, but whatever was troubling him wasn’t enough to warrant his immediate removal from the game. The right-hander wound up returning for the top of the third and emerged with a scoreless frame. But that was all the Nats needed to see on this night. Strasburg departed having thrown 64 pitches in three innings, clearly not himself.
KEY STAT: Fister became the first Nats pitcher to record a pinch-hit since Beltran Perez on Sept. 27, 2006.
UP NEXT: The series wraps up with a 1:05 p.m. matinee Wednesday. Max Scherzer (1-3, 1.26) gets the start against right-hander Tom Koehler (2-2, 4.67).
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
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As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...
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