iandesmond06192012

Nationals Lose Fourth Straight Following Bizarre Incident

The Washington Nationals’ attempt to recover after being swept by the New York Yankees got off to an inauspicious start on Tuesday with Chien-Ming Wang on the mound. The Nats weren’t quite able to come back and lost 5-4 to the Rays, but there were more important storylines to watch than that.

In just three and one-third innings, Wang allowed five earned runs on seven hits and three walks. It raised his already disappointing 4.67 ERA to 6.10 with a 6.97 FIP. Wang never looked comfortable and boos started raining down early from the stands at Nationals Park. Ross Detwiler came in and totally shut the game down. In three and two-thirds innings, the Detwiler struck out three, and the only base runner he allowed was a Carlos Pena hit-by-pitch. Talk about a statement for Detwiler to return to the rotation.

The story of the night was a back-and-forth between Nats manager Davey Johnson and Rays manager Joe Maddon. In the eighth inning, Ben Zobrist complained about the red ticket advertisement above the batting eye on a 3-1 count. He walked on the next pitch after a five or so minute delay. It didn’t end up effecting the outcome, but in the bottom of the inning, former Nats pitcher Joel Peralta was ejected for having a “foreign substance” on his glove. The league will likely hit Peralta with a pretty hefty suspension for his actions.

All-in-all, the chess match went for naught, as Wang’s five-runs was too much for the Nats offense to make up. When asked, Davey Johnson indicated that he would talk to pitching coach Steve McCatty and Chien-Ming Wang before making any decisions about who will be the number five starter next go-around.

Some thoughts:

- Despite a four-game losing streak and a New York Mets win on Tuesday, the Nats still hold a three-game lead in the NL East. That lead is starting to erode a bit, but putting Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez out on the mound in the next two games will help the Nats chances for breaking the losing streak a great deal.

- It’s time for Chien-Ming Wang to leave the rotation. I understand he’s the veteran presence, and there’s nowhere for him to go besides being designated-for-assignment or to the bullpen. However, the Nats can’t afford to have no chance every fifth day, and that’s the unfortunate reality of Wang’s recent starts. Considering by Detwiler’s great outing in relief, it should be his job again.

- Ian Desmond his his 11th home run on the season, which is a career high for the Nats shortstop. His bat has really come alive in key spots this season, and it’s possible that he could have a career season in his new role out of the leadoff spot.

- This series may get very ugly before it’s over following the eighth inning antics. Davey didn’t make much of it in the post-game press conference, but It’s hard to imagine someone not retaliating in one of the next two games. Only time will tell, but what some though may have been a not so interesting series just got a whole lot more pizazz.

About Joe Drugan

Managing editor of The Nats Blog and co-host of the Nats Talk On The Go podcast.

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