The Tampa Bay Rays lost 4-2 to the Washington Nationals on Tuesday Night. The Rays were unable to solve Nationals starter Max Scherzer, who struck out 13 batters in eight innings. Scherzer won his ninth straight decision, becoming the majors first 10 game-winner. Meanwhile, the loss was the Rays fifth overall, all five coming on their current road-trip, which started with Tampa Bay winning the first three games of the trip in Oakland.
Scherzer may have allowed hits in two of the first four innings but that didn’t stop him from throwing just 42 pitches to get to the fifth. Scherzer threw 21 pitches in the first two innings while striking out two batters in each inning. And even after allowing a one out double to outfielder Johnny Field in the third inning, he was able to record three outs on just 11 pitches. Then in the fourth, after allowing another one out hit, Scherzer got former teammate catcher Wilson Ramos to ground into an inning ending double-play to erase the Rays second hit.
Meanwhile, Tampa Bay starter Nathan Eovaldi, making his second start in a Rays’ uniform, was nowhere near as impressive as he was in his Rays debut. Eovaldi, who didn’t allow a hit in six innings in Oakland last week, allowed a solo home run to first baseman Matt Adams in the second inning. And the Nationals added another run in the inning after two singles then a groundout to make the score 2-0. The lead doubled to 4-0 in the bottom of the fourth when with one out second baseman Wilmer Difo tripled to right-centerfield to drive in a run. And after two were out, Difo scored on a wild pitch by Eovaldi.
Eovaldi’s night ended when he was pinch hit for in the sixth, throwing five innings allowing four runs on four hits striking out four & walking one. Unfortunately for the Rays, pinch hitter Christian Arroyo was one of three batters Scherzer struck out in the sixth inning to record an immaculate inning, striking out three batters on 9 pitches.
Through seven innings, Scherzer pitch count was 77, 62 for strikes. And it appeared he would cruise to a complete game if not a shutout. But in the eighth, the Rays got lead-off singles from third baseman Matt Duffy & outfielder Carlos Gomez. And after getting back to back strike-outs, it looked like Scherzer would head to the ninth with his shutout intact. But Rays manager Kevin Cash used Brad Miller to pinch hit & Miller came through with a double to deep centerfield, driving in both Duffy & Gomez. Scherzer ended the rally & his night by striking out shortstop Daniel Robertson, for the third time in the game.
Washington closer Sean Doolittle worked a perfect ninth inning to pick up his 15th save in 16 chances.
The Rays look to salvage the final game of the short series & of the 9 game road-trip when the two teams battle again on Wednesday afternoon. Lefty reliever Jonny Venters (1-0 0.87) gets his first career start for the Rays hoping to help end Tamp Bay’s losing streak, while Washington gives the ball to right-hander Tanner Roark (2-6 3.61). Coverage on 620 WDAE begins with Steve Carney & The Inside Pitch at Noon. And first pitch is at 1:05PM.