Jul 10, 2014, 9:54 PM EDT
GAME IN A NUTSHELL: The Nationals came into Thursday night looking for a series win against the Orioles, but a rocky first three innings by Gio Gonzalez set the tone for what ended up a close loss for Washington.
The Nats came back with a run in the fourth and two more in the sixth to cut the game to just one run. Looking back, however, it was defensive mistakes and blown opportunities at the plate that did the Nationals in in the final game of this rain-shortened interleague series.
The Nationals fell by the score of 4-3, a tough loss when put under the microscope. The defensive miscues came in a three-run third inning for the Orioles, an uncharacteristic showing for the Nats who entered the night with a team-record, 13-game errorless streak.
In the third Jayson Werth helped allow a run on an RBI double by Adam Jones, as the Nats’ outfielder over-ran a ball that bounced near the foul line. The next play saw Nelson Cruz hit an infield RBI single that brought in another run on an Ian Desmond throw to third that flew over the head of Anthony Rendon. Desmond had no play at third after Cruz’ slow grounder brought him into shallow center and should have held on to the ball. In hindsight, it was a very costly mistake.
Also of note, Desmond left the game in the middle of the eighth inning with an apparent hand injury. He took a fastball off the fingers in the top of the inning and stayed in the game on first base. But then, after warming up before the bottom of the inning, he was removed for Danny Espinosa.
HITTING HIGHLIGHT: The Nationals’ best inning on offense came in the sixth where they made it a one-run game. Werth led off with his 10th home run of the season. It was his fourth in seven games and now gives the Nats four players with double digit home run totals.
After Werth’s homer, the Nats would add another on an RBI double by Desmond. Ryan Zimmerman followed Werth with a ground rule double before Desmond roped a line drive off the out of town scoreboard in right field to bring him home. It was Desmond’s 55th RBI of the season, best on the Nats and sixth-most in the National League.
PITCHING LOWLIGHT: Gonzalez was not on the top of his game on Thursday, at least in the early innings, as he was struck for four runs in the first three frames. The first came on a solo home run by Steve Pearce with one out in the first inning. That run ended a 22-inning scoreless streak for Gio. The other three came in the third inning, as described above. The third run in the third was not earned, and Gonzalez was able to recover after to finish with a quality start. His final line was: 6.2 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 7 SO, HR. 109 pitches, 61 strikes.
KEY STAT: Desmond’s throwing error in the third was his 15th of the season. That now ties him for second-most in the majors.
UP NEXT: The Nationals head to Philadelphia for a three-game series this weekend before the All-Star break. The first game will be Jordan Zimmermann vs. A.J. Burnett. The second game will be Stephen Strasburg vs. Cole Hamels. The third will be Tanner Roark against Kyle Kendrick.
NLDS: NATIONALS VS. GIANTS
SAT: Game 2 at Washington, 5:37 p.m. (FS1)
MON: Game 3 at San Francisco, TBA (MLBN)
TUE: Game 4 at San Francisco, TBA (FS1)*
THU: Game 5 at Washington, TBA (FS1)*
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.
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