May 21, 2014, 7:59 PM EDT
GAME IN A NUTSHELL: The Nationals entered the day with a chance to take the series against the Reds and head to Pittsburgh on a high note, but this time they could not solve Cincinnati’s starting pitcher as they did the night before. Alfredo Simon gave up one run, on a leadoff solo homer by Denard Span, but that was essentially it. He got into a groove and not even an hour-long rain delay could slow him down.
The delay happened in the bottom of the sixth inning and saw both pitchers return afterwards. Tanner Roark came back only to throw 12 pitches and record one out, while Simon continued pitching through the seventh. Though it technically worked out for both teams, it will certainly be something to ask Matt Williams in his postgame press conference.
HITTING LOWLIGHT: Simon took the mound enjoying the best stretch of his career as a starting pitcher, but the Nationals were able to strike early thanks to Span’s solo home run. After that, however, Simon settled in and had no trouble getting outs for the remainder of his start.
The Nats had another great chance in the bottom of the second with the bases loaded and one out before Roark grounded into a double play. Simon retired 11 of 12 at one point as the Nationals failed to get a runner in scoring position the rest of his outing. Jonathan Broxton took over in the eighth to keep the Nationals at one run, and Aroldis Chapman closed the door in the ninth.
PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: Roark continued his mastery of opponents while pitching at Nationals Park with another strong start, all things considered. Yes, the Nats lost, but you can’t fault Roark. He tossed six innings with just one earned run. Along the way nine batters reached base, but it was more than enough to give the Nationals a chance to win. He now holds a 0.78 career ERA when pitching at home spread across 46 total innings.
DEFENSIVE LOWLIGHT: Starting at third base to give Anthony Rendon a day off, Kevin Frandsen contributed to the Reds’ go-ahead run with a fielding error in the fourth inning. Devin Mesoraco smoked a groundball that Frandsen booted, allowing Brandon Phillips to reach third and later score on a Brayan Pena single. That was the Nationals’ 41st error as a team in just 46 games.
KEY STAT: Span led off the game with a solo home run, his sixth hit in as many plate appearances. Amazingly, Ted Williams once reached base in 16 consecutive PAs during the 1957 season. That’s an MLB record.
UP NEXT: The Nationals head to Pittsburgh to play a four-game series at PNC Park. Blake Treinen ( 0-1, 0.77) will make his second start of the season as he fills in for Gio Gonzalez. Pitching for the Buccos will be right-hander Edinson Volquez (1-4, 4.71).
COUNTDOWN TO OPENING DAY
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FRI: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
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