Friday, May 29, 2015 Nationals 2 Reds 5
Saturday, May 30, 2015 Nationals 5 Reds 8
Sunday, May 31, 2015 Nationals 2 Reds 8
The Washington Nationals came to Cincinnati on Friday with the hopes of extending their streak of nine consecutive series wins. Instead, they were swept for the first time since the April 24-26 series in Miami against the Marlins.
Stephen Strasburg’s exit after just 16 pitches on Friday night could have been a harbinger of things to come. Strasburg, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with neck tightness, was replaced by Taylor Jordan. Jordan pitched well and was actually in a position to win until the sixth inning when he surrendered a walk, two hits and two runs. Aaron Barrett “relieved” Jordan and gave up a line drive single to Zack Cozart which gave the Reds a 4-2 lead. Blame for the 5-2 loss cannot entirely be placed on the bullpen. The Nationals left 13 runners on base and went 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
Bryce Harper was scratched from the lineup on Saturday after getting drilled in the back with a 93 mph fastball from Tony Cingrani on Friday night. Ryan Zimmerman gave the Nationals an early first inning lead with a single to right center field which scored Yunel Escobar. Joey Votto responded in the bottom of the inning with his ninth home run of the season and second of the series. The Nationals got some help from Harper’s replacement, Michael Taylor, in the sixth inning when he clubbed his fourth home run of the season over the left field wall to give the Nationals a 5-2 lead. The Nationals bullpen struggled again and Casey Jansen coughed up a 5-4 lead in the eighth inning. In his fourth appearance of the season, Jansen gave up four hits and two walks. He was tagged for four earned runs to give the Reds won 8-5.
The Nationals managed just two hits, including a double from Tanner Roark, on Sunday. The 2-2 game unraveled in the seventh inning when Marlon Byrd singled off of Barrett. Billy Hamilton was next and he bunted a ball directly to Barrett who misplayed a double play ball. Barrett was only able to get the force out at second base. Hamilton stole his 21st base of the season and scored on a ground ball just out of Ian Desmond’s reach. Barrett’s ERA rose to 5.19 and his replacement, Matt Grace, could not stop the bleeding as the Reds completed the sweep.
Pitching was certainly not deserving of commendation this series. Here are the nominees for star of the series.
- Yunel Escobar
- Michael Taylor
- Ryan Zimmerman
Yunel Escobar continues to be a key bat in the Nationals lineup. Escobar has the second highest batting average (.318) among National League third basemen. Escobar went 4-for-12 with a double on Saturday in the first inning. He scored on a Ryan Zimmerman single after getting a running start. Nationals fans love Escobar’s passion on the field, but the team cannot afford to lose his bat as they did on Saturday when he was ejected by Andy Fletcher for arguing balls and strikes.
Michael Taylor saw playing time in all three games as he looks to show that he deserves a permanent spot in the lineup now that Jayson Werth will not be back until August. Taylor went 2-for-8 with 5 RBIs, a run scored and three walks. Taylor was clutch when he hit his fourth home run of the season on Saturday to give the Nationals a 5-2 lead. Taylor also made a strong defensive play on Friday night when he nearly nailed Byrd at the plate who scored on a sacrifice fly.
Ryan Zimmerman’s numbers may not jump of the page. He went 3-for-13, but got on base each game. He also scored two runs and drove in his 33rd RBI of the season on Saturday.
Star of the Series: Michael Taylor
Michael Taylor is going to see significant playing time if he plays more games the way he did in Cincinnati.