By James Kenney
The Nationals fell to 34-23 on the season after their three game series against the Cincinnati Reds at the Great American Ballpark. They lost the series in the first two games with a 7-2 and then 6-3 loss. They did, however, resurrect a win in the series in a wild Sunday matinee, coming from behind and winning 10-9.
Although the Nats lost the series, there are positives to be taken away from the set against the Reds. In Game 2 of the series, Stephen Strasburg gave up three earned runs and struck out 10 in 5.1 innings of work. He also struck out his 1,000th career batter in his respectable outing, before being pulled early due to injury concern with his calf, thus becoming the first Nats pitcher to reach the milestone.
Aside from the win on Sunday, the series was highlighted by the presence of shortstop Trea Turner, a highly rated prospect who Nats fans and have high hopes for. He only appeared in two games but had a remarkable impact in Game 1. Turner started at shortstop and hit second behind center fielder Ben Revere. At the plate, he went 3-3 with two sharp line drives for a single and a double, an awkward dribbler, as well as a walk.
The second game of the series was characterized by the long ball, as all nine runs were scored via the homerun. Infielders Anthony Rendon and Danny Espinosa each hit round-trippers to tie the game at three, but a late three-run shot by left fielder Adam Duvall off reliever Shawn Kelley in the eighth spoiled the comeback effort.
Sunday’s game saw the Nats squeeze a win out of the Dusty Baker’s return to Cincinnati since being fired after a loss in the 2013 National League Wild Card game. Tanner Roark looked to improve his 4-4 record, but only lasted three innings, surrendering seven hits and five earned runs.
The Reds jumped out to an early 5-0 lead when the Nats began to chip away in the top of the fourth inning. Daniel Murphy started the comeback with his 10th homerun to deep right field which scored Bryce Harper. Later in the inning, catcher Wilson Ramos hit his eighth homerun also to right field. Stephen Drew, pinch hitting for Roark, singled to plate first baseman Clint Robinson. The Nats tied the game at five with a single by Revere that scored Espinosa.
Between the fifth and seventh innings, the Nats would increase their lead to 10-5 over the Reds. A three-run bomb by outfielder Jay Bruce and a double by second baseman Brandon Phillips brought the Reds within a run by the ninth inning. Closer Jonathan Papelbon loaded the bases after the Phillips double, but induced a long, seemingly worrisome fly out caught by outfielder Michael A. Taylor near the warning track in left-center field to end the game. Reliever Sammy Solis worked three scoreless innings and earned the win behind the resurgence of the offense.
The Nationals look to capitalize on Sunday’s win as they continue their road trip against a talented and surprising Chicago White Sox team on Tuesday night.