A look at what went wrong with the Washington’s two-game stand against the Rays at Nationals Park.
Game 1: 5-0 loss on Wednesday night (June 17)
Game 2: 5-3 loss on Thursday night (June 18)
What I liked:
1. Yunel Escobar in Game 2 – While he committed one of the Nats’ three throwing errors, he also had a double and four singles (including an RBI single) for his third five-hit game of the season (no other player has more than one).
2. Jordan Zimmermann’s start in Game 1 – Zimmermann, coming off two consecutive bad starts, allowed three runs in seven innings, recording eight strikeouts.
3. Doug Fister’s return in Game 2 – Fister made his first start since May 14 due to right forearm tightness and for the most part was down in the strike zone, as opposed to being uncharacteristically up as he was before going on the 15-day disabled list. He allowed one run in five innings before falling apart in the sixth: four runs on a solo homer and three singles. One of the runs scored on an RBI triple given up by Blake Treinen.
What I didn’t like:
1. Bryce Harper’s injury in Game 2 – Just as the Nats got back one key player (Fister), they lost another. Harper suffered a mild left hamstring strain in making a throwing error during the Rays’ four-run sixth, slipping on the wet outfield grass at Nationals Park off a single by ex-Nat Asdrubal Cabrera. The hope of course is that Harper doesn’t miss much time, but as we saw with Anthony Rendon’s “mild” left MCL sprain in March, an injury initially being labeled as “mild” doesn’t mean much.
Harper’s incredible production this season has been well-documented, but here are a few nuggets from ESPN Stats & Info that truly highlight how good he has been:
• Harper entered Thursday on pace for 12.7 bWAR. That number would rank third-best by a position player, trailing only Babe Ruth in 1923 (14.1) and 1921 (12.9)
• Harper has a 1.197 OPS this season through 67 games. That’s the highest by a player age 22 or younger (minimum 200 plate appearances) since Ted Williams in 1941 (1.212)
2. More sloppy play – The Nats committed three errors in each game and saw Denard Span get thrown out at home by a mile on Escobar’s RBI single for the final out of the bottom of the second in Game 2.
The errors in Game 1 were particularly costly. Ian Desmond botched a potential inning-ending double-play ball in the Rays’ one-run sixth, allowing Evan Longoria to score. Treinen and Harper committed throwing errors on the same play in the Rays’ two-run eighth, allowing Steven Souza Jr. and David DeJesus to score.