On this day, Stephen Strasburg deserved a better fate with either a win or a no decision—certainly not a loss on his record. A catcher’s passed ball by Jose Lobaton led indirectly to the winning run which was unearned, and that is just part of the issues in this 2-1 loss.
The umpire called a phantom foul tip in the decisive 6th inning which also caused Strasburg’s pitch count to mount and whether that caused Strasburg to lose focus is possible then with 2 outs Seager hit a home run to tie the game at 1-1. Strasburg should have been out of the inning after striking out Adrian Gonzalez but Jose Lobaton allowed a passed ball. A few pitches later Lobaton didn’t block a ball in the dirt which allowed Gonzalez to scamper to 2nd base and in scoring position and then he scored on a Grandal hit to leftfield which looked catchable.
The Nationals had a fielding error earlier in the game on a liner right to Michael Taylor that caused Strasburg to throw 5 extra pitches and while that didn’t lead to a run it just added to his pitch count.
Stephen Strasburg deserved better and he looked to be ready to get off the hook when Trea Turner led off the 8th inning with a triple and the Nats had a golden opportunity to tie the game. With recent call-up Ryan Raburn who is not great at hitting right-handed pitchers (.213 in 2016) on-deck, Dusty Baker did not pinch-hit for the 36-year-old Raburn. Dusty Baker had 4 lefty bats on the bench to face the Dodgers reliever Baez in that spot but no pinch-hitter was inserted. Pick between Stephen Drew, Adam Lind, Brian Goodwin and Matt Wieters to pinch-hit. Raburn promptly struck out bringing Bryce Harper to the plate with one out.
Harper smashed a comebacker to the pitcher who made a great fielding play and Trea Turner got into a rundown as he broke on contact, but Harper was in a slow jog to 1st base and did not get down to 2nd base as Trea Turner tried in earnest to stay in the rundown. A complete lack of hustle and a mental lapse and inexcusable on Harper’s part as the video confirmed him literally in a slow jog.
One of the keys to the game was working the pitch counts. The Dodgers sure did it to Strasburg and some of the Nats did it to Kershaw but there were far too many Nats acting like they were in a hurry when the score was 1-0 in favor of the Nats and there was too much swinging at 1st pitches which allowed Kershaw to make it through the 7th inning.
Credit to both Clayton Kershaw and Stephen Strasburg on a great pitcher’s duel. Ryan Zimmerman had the lone run in the game for the Nationals with a home run off of Kershaw. The Nationals were 0-6 with RISP so there were other opportunities for the Nationals to plate runs.
The Nationals bullpen continued with their great outings by throwing 2 scoreless innings extending to 11 of the last 14 games being unscored upon from the Nats bullpen. Unfortunately, the catching record of Jose Lobaton is now 5-11 in games he starts. Contrast that with Matt Wieters starts, the Nationals are 32-10.
The Nationals did win the series against the Dodgers, but the sweep looked very possible. Back to Nationals Park for a long homestand including a makeup game tomorrow for a rainout.