The game between the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim got a lot of attention on the national stage on Monday night for obviously reasons: Mike Trout and Bryce Harper. The two young stars were on the field together for the first time outside of the 2012 and 2013 All-Star Games.
All eyes were on the number two hitters from each team in the first inning, but Trout struck out looking on a 93 mph fastball on the corner from Tanner Roark, and Harper struck out swinging against Garrett Richards.
To the surprise of many, there were, in fact, 16 other starters on the field, and Roark found that out in the second inning. Howie Kendrick and Erick Aybar both reached via singles, but Roark was able to strand both of them after striking out the opposing pitcher to end the inning.
The Angels had a call overturned in the third inning when J.B. Shuck slid into first base to lead off the inning. He was initially called out, but replay clearly showed that he was in there safely. The hitless Trout didn’t last long; he hit a single in the third inning to move Shuck to second. Roark got Albert Pujols to ground into a double play, and Ian Stewart flew out to Denard Span for another scoreless inning for the Angels.
In the bottom of the fourth, Richards came completely unglued. He was simply unable to throw a strike and actually threw two pitches straight to the backstop. He gave three free passes, including a Jayson Werth hit by pitch, with none out, but the Nats were once again unable to get much done with the bases drunk. Werth broke up a double play on a hard, fair slide after Adam LaRoche grounded to second base, which allowed Denard Span to score and gave the Nats a 1-0 lead. Unfortunately, that was it.
All in all, Roark threw six and two-thirds innings of extremely strong work, and Drew Storen came in to retire Trout on a fly ball to center field to end the seventh inning with the Nats clinging to a one-run lead.
And here’s where things got ugly. Tyler Clippard entered the game, and Pujols reached on a tough error call against Ian Desmond. Pujols then stole second base, which was just his second steal since 2012. Long story short, Clippard gave up four runs, albeit unearned, on three hits and a walk in two-thirds of an inning, Desmond committed yet another error, and courtesy of Raul Ibanez, the Nats were down 4-1.
Desmond redeemed his errors a bit with a blast of a home run to the Red Porch in the bottom of the ninth, but the Nats still fell 4-2.
– Clippard has appeared in 11 games. The leadoff hitter has gotten on base in six of them. It’s a big problem for the Nats and their eighth inning reliever.
– Storen continues to do everything that’s asked of him, including retiring the best player in baseball while the Nats barely held onto a lead in the late innings.
– Mike Trout went 2-for-5 today, while Bryce Harper went 0-for-3 with a walk.
– Young umpire Jordan Baker was slow to call strikes, but his strike zone was very solid all game. I’ve included his strike zone maps from Baseball Prospectus and Brooks Baseball below.
(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)