It was the Washington Nationals’ first game at home since July 20 on Thursday but, unfortunately for them, it didn’t go very well. The Philadelphia Phillies were in town and the night’s starters moved swiftly through the first three innings before the potential pitchers duel took a turn.
Both left-handed starters Cliff Lee and Gio Gonzalez didn’t make it very far in the Phillies’ 10-4 victory over the Nats but they both fled the game early for very different reasons. While a reoccurring strain of a left flexor pronator haunted Lee, Gonzalez was roughed up pretty bad in the fourth inning leading Manager Matt Williams to pull him. Gonzalez lasted 3 and 2/3 innings and gave up eight hits and five runs while walking one and striking out two on 77 pitches (47 strikes). That’s when the night’s game turned into a battle of the bullpens.
While the Phillies utilized six of their seven relief pitchers to help get Lee off the hook, the Nats weren’t far behind with four of seven. Blame it on their lengthy recent road trip or blame it on sloppy defense but no matter the reason, Washington couldn’t consistently hit the Phillies’ bullpen.
In the batting order’s defense, Gonzalez got roughed up quite a bit in the fourth inning when a five-run rally started by a leadoff double hit by outfielder Marlon Byrd put the Phillies up early. Once Gonzalez was forced out of the game, Philadelphia continued to tack on runs with a pair in the sixth and three more in the eigth.
Washington tried to fight back but came up short. Third baseman Anthony Rendon scored after drawing a leadoff walk in the fourth. Outfielder Bryce Harper and first baseman Kevin Frandsen hit back-to-back singles to start the fifth and plated a couple runs. But the last bit of run support the offensive lineup could muster came in the seventh when Frandsen led off with a double and eventually scored.
It wasn’t an ideal night for Washington but perhaps this game was the wakeup call they needed in order to remember that any National League East foe is one they need to beat if they want to make it past September.