Nationals bats silenced in 5-0 loss to Rays
WASHINGTON (AP) — One night after setting a team record for hits, the Washington Nationals couldn’t get to third base.
Former National Steven Souza Jr. hit his 13th home run of the season and Curt Casali blasted the first of his career to help the Tampa Bay Rays blank Washington 5-0 on Wednesday night.
The Nationals pounded out 23 hits — the most since the team moved to Washington in 2005 — in Tuesday’s 16-4 rout of the Rays, but were held to two singles in Wednesday’s loss.
“If I had the formula, if anybody had that formula, we’d certainly do something about it,” manager Matt Williams said. “We’d love to get 23 hits every day, score a whole bunch of runs.”
Bryce Harper and Ian Desmond singled for Washington, with Desmond the only Nationals player to reach second base.
“Tough day offensively, and defensively,” said Desmond, who made one of Washington’s three errors.
The offensive drought came on a rainy night when starter Jordan Zimmermann (5-5) returned to form. After allowing 10 earned runs in 8 1/3 innings over his last two outings, he surrendered three in seven innings.
“Tonight I was a lot better,” he said. “Slider was really, really good, and fastball command was right where I wanted it.”
Souza and Casali each had three hits for the Rays.
Souza made his major league debut with Washington and played in 21 games. On the final day of last season, he made a diving catch in left field to preserve Zimmermann’s no-hitter against the Miami Marlins.
The Rays acquired the 26-year-old outfielder this offseason in a three-team trade that also included the San Diego Padres.
“Obviously, I wanted to get him out,” Zimmermann said of facing Souza for the first time. “Couldn’t do it tonight. First at-bat he gets a base hit, and the second at-bat I hang a slider and he makes me pay.”
Matt Andriese (2-1) pitched four shutout innings of relief for the AL East-leading Rays. Reliever-turned-starter Steve Geltz went six up, six down in what manager Kevin Cash called a bullpen game.
Souza led off the fifth by blasting Zimmermann’s 1-1 slider into the Rays’ left-field bullpen, roughly 75 feet beyond the spot of his famous catch.
Casali followed two batters later with a line-drive shot.
The Rays made it 3-0 in the sixth when Desmond bobbled Logan Forsythe’s potential double-play grounder.
SLIPPERY WHEN WET
It was 5-0 in the eighth after pitcher Blake Treinen and right fielder Bryce Harper each committed throwing errors on Souza’s bunt single, with Treinen’s throw sailing over the head of first baseman Danny Espinosa in the rain.
“He just threw it high,” Williams said when asked if Treinen should have just held the ball. “Of course it’s raining cats and dogs and other creatures.slick ball, but if he throws it on the bag he’s out.”
Rays: LHP Matt Moore came out of his third rehab start feeling strong, said manager Kevin Cash. “Every outing it seems like he’s getting more confident,” Cash said. Moore allowed two runs on four hits in 4 2/3 innings with Class A Charlotte.
Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg could return to the Nationals for his next start following a successful rehab outing with Double-A Harrisburg on Wednesday. “It’s a possibility,” said Williams after Strasburg allowed one run over five innings. “We have to see how he is feeling after today and how he gets through his bullpen, which won’t be for a couple more days.” ... CF Denard Span was out of Wednesday’s lineup with back tightness.
Nationals RHP Doug Fister (2-2, 4.31) comes off the disabled list to face Rays RHP Chris Archer (7-4, 2.00 ERA), who returns to the site of his first career start.