Last night’s win may have been momentous, but today’s loss may have been as much of a letdown.
Stephen Strasburg failed to go five innings, giving up seven earned runs including a grand slam, and the Washington Nationals (41-36) were limited to just two hits by the Milwaukee Brewers (48-32) in a 9-2 shellacking.
Strasburg (L, 6-6) looked as bad as he has during any point of his career. His control was completely absent, causing him to walk more batters than he struck out. When his pitches did cross the plate, the Brewers hitters squared them up with ease. Strasburg gave up two home runs for the first time in 2014 and just the eighth time in his career.
All in all, he posted a hideous line: 4.2 IP, 8 H, 7 ER, 3 BB, 2 K.
An abbreviated outing the day after your bullpen pitches ten innings is ordinarily a disaster, but the Nationals had wisely called up starter Taylor Hill from Syracuse after last night’s game. He had been scheduled to start today, and was therefore ready to pitch as long as necessary. He ended up acquitting himself well, giving up two runs on five hits, a walk, and a strikeout in 3.1 innings in his MLB debut.
But his stay with the Nats will likely not be long, as Greg Dobbs was designated for assignment to make room for him on the roster. With every other reliever getting rest today, the bullpen should be back in shape as the Nats head to Chicago, and the Nats will want to return to a five-man bench. They will likely call upon a Syracuse hitter like Tyler Moore to take Dobbs’ place on the bench until Bryce Harper returns.
The Brewers’ offensive barrage began early. The Nationals actually took a 1-0 lead in the second with two walks, an Ian Desmond steal, and a productive groundout, but Milwaukee brought the hammer down in the home half of the inning.
A struggling Strasburg gave up two hits and a walk to load the bases with one out. He struck out his opposite number Marco Estrada before Scooter Gennett took him deep to center for a grand slam and a 4-1 lead. Khris Davis would take him deep for a solo shot in the fourth and beat him for a two-run single in the fifth before Strasburg got the hook.
Lost in Strasburg’s meltdown is the offense’s extremely disappointing performance. Estrada (W, 7-4) entered today’s game with a 5.22 ERA and 24 home runs allowed, by far the most in baseball. But he held the Nats to two runs on two hits with four walks and four strikeouts. Desmond was the only Nat to get a hit, going 2-for-4.
Despite today’s stinkbomb, the Nats still took two of three games in the home park of the team with the best record in the NL, a feat that is certainly worth celebrating. And their road gets a bit easier after today, as they head to Chicago to take on the lowly Chicago Cubs.