Aug 21, 2015, 10:29 PM EDT
GAME IN A NUTSHELL: On the heels of a brutal road trip, the Nationals returned to D.C. on Friday night hoping to re-establish themselves as a legitimate contender for the NL East title. Then the game started and everything that happened afterward suggested anything but.
The Nationals were rocked by a last-place Brewers club, done in not only via a flurry of hits but a stream of gaffes in the field that seemed to get worse with each passing inning. Gio Gonzalez gave up five of the runs, four of them earned. Doug Fister and Tanner Roark then entered for mop-up duty but instead made a bigger mess of things, the nadir coming during a 5-run seventh that left the crowd of 29,916 booing the home team.
This game also saw Yunel Escobar depart with an injury suffered during the top of the first when he collided with the wall and a fan seated in the front from along the third-base line. It saw Max Scherzer pinch-hit for Gonzalez in the bottom of the fifth (and line out). And it saw Trea Turner make his major-league debut, nearly beating out a fairly routine grounder to short, only to be ruled out on a call that required replay review to confirm.
Add it all up and you get an ugly loss to start an important homestand, one that leaves the Nationals under .500 (60-61) and in danger of falling 5 games behind the Mets in the NL East.
HITTING LOWLIGHT: The game was potentially still within reach for the Nationals in the bottom of the sixth, down 5-2 with one out and a man on base. But after Craig Counsell pulled starter Jimmy Nelson in favor of lefty Neal Cotts, Matt Williams countered with Ryan Zimmerman pinch-hitting for Clint Robinson. Zimmerman wound up striking out looking at a 3-2 fastball on the inside corner. Right-hander Corey Knebel then entered to face Ian Desmond, who struck out chasing a 2-2 fastball at his eyelids.
PITCHING LOWLIGHT: It wasn’t entirely the fault of pitching, but the top of the seventh was a complete failure by anybody in a Nats uniform. Officially, Fister and Roark gave up the five runs, but they were aided by some atrocious defense. That inning included a catcher’s interference call on Jose Lobaton and an attempted throw to the plate by Bryce Harper that scooted past Lobaton and Roark, bouncing off the backstop and ultimately letting two runs score via a sac fly. It was ugly, and the crowd let the players know it.
KEY STAT: The Nationals are 11-21 since peaking at 10 games over .500 on the first day after the All-Star break.
UP NEXT: A couple of promising young right-handers go head-to-head Saturday night when Joe Ross (3-5, 3.86) faces Taylor Jungmann (7-4, 2.23) at 7:05 p.m.
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
ON THE RADIO
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)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.
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