Wouldn't it figure that the Washington Nationals revert to their form of 2019 when the Tampa Bay Rays came to town. The hottest team in 2020 were stopped in their tracks the last two nights by the defending World Series champs, including Tuesday's 5-3 loss at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.
Nationals' starter Anibal Sanchez, who has not had a very good year, coming into Tuesday's game with a 1-4 record, befuddled the Rays for five innings, while his counterpart, Rays' starter Ryan Yarbrough, labored through two and two-thirds innings in his first start since August 28th.
Washington opened the scoring in the first without the benefit of a hit. Lead-off hitter Victor Robles was hit with a 3-2 pitch from Yarbrough, and moved to second on an Adam Eaton sacrifice bunt. Robles then stole third and came home on a Juan Soto groundout.
The Nats also added a single run in the second on Washington third baseman Carter Kieboom's double, and added two in the third on a sac fly by Asdrubal Cabrera and an RBI single by second baseman Josh Harrison. Brock Holt followed with a single, and Rays manager Kevin Cash called upon Aaron Slegers to put out the fire.
The Rays scored in only two innings in this short two-game series, those runs in Tuesday's game coming in the sixth. Brandon Lowe led off the inning with a bloop single down the left field line, and moved to second after Randy Arozarena was hit by a pitch. Ji-Man Choi followed with a single to bring home Lowe, chasing Sanchez from the game.
Nationals' reliever Wander Suero entered the game having not allowed an inherited runner to score, but that streak ended on an RBI double by Yoshi Tsutsugo. With two out, Choi scored on a wild pitch to Willy Adames, who eventually reached on a walk, but Michael Perez, so clutch in these situations, flied out to Holt in left to end the threat.
Washington tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth on a Trea Turner groundout, which ended the scoring in this uneventful game.
The Nationals bullpen only allowed one hit the rest of the way, as the Rays dropped their second straight for the first time since the beginning of August.
The loss left the Rays three and a half games ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays, who once again defeated the Yankees, 2-1 on Tuesday.
Prior to Tuesday's loss, Tampa Bay had won or tied its previous 10 series; the series loss was the first since the Rays were swept by the Orioles in early August.
After a day off Wednesday, the Rays return home for a four-game set against the Boston Red Sox. The Rays have their pitching lined up, with Josh Fleming, Blake Snell, Tyler Glasnow and Charlie Morton slated to start the games Thursday through Sunday. The Red Sox have yet to name any starters for this series.
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