The Washington Nationals fell out of first place in the National League East for the first time in weeks after enduring a .500 week. Series splits with both the New York Yankees and Milwaukee Brewers placed Washington a half game behind the New York Mets for the division lead. Washington has a 33-30 overall record as of June 14.
Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond (20) tags New York Yankees pinch runner Didi Gregorius (18) out at second for the third out in the 10th inning of a baseball game at Yankee Stadium in New York, Wednesday, June 10, 2015. The Nationals won 5-4 in 11 innings. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
June 9-10: Nationals Split Two-Game Series with Yankees
The Nationals made a rare visit to Yankee Stadium for a two game set on June 9-10; unfortunately for Washington, they would make the trip without first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who was sent to the disabled list for Plantar Fasciitis, joining Stephen Strasburg, Doug Fister and Craig Stammen, all injured.
Washington Nationals Denard Span bats in a baseball game against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium in New York, Wednesday, June 10, 2015. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Washington dropped Game One in New York on June 9 as ace pitcher Max Scherzer was out-pitched by Masahiro Tanaka in a 6-1 win for the Yankees. Scherzer gave up eight hits and four runs through 6-2/3 innings pitched, while Tanaka allowed only one run and five hits in seven innings. Bryce Harper crushed his 20th home run of the season, but Ian Desmond’s two-out throwing error in the seventh inning broke a 1-1 tie, sparking the Yankees’ runaway victory.
Game Two on June 10 became a huge outing for Denard Span. Scratched from the lineup the previous night because of a balky back, Span had three hits and two RBI in a 5-4 victory that snapped a seven-game winning streak for the Yankees. Span’s hustle helped the banged-up Nationals win for only the third time in 12 games. Michael Taylor hit a two-run homer in the eighth that tied the score at 4-4, and Span’s infield single in the 11th inning scored Tyler Moore to give Washington the decisive lead. Closer Drew Storen pitched a perfect 11th inning for his 19th save of the season.
Milwaukee Brewers shortstop Jean Segura takes the throw as Washington Nationals’ Anthony Rendon is forced out at second during the first inning of a baseball game Sunday, June 14, 2015, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
June 11-14: Washington Splits Four-Game Series in Milwaukee
Off to Milwaukee for a four-game series, the Nationals’ pitching staff continued to struggle in clutch situations, blowing a four-run lead in a 6-5 loss to the Brewers in Game One on June 11. Milwaukee scored five unanswered runs to complete the comeback win, mostly earned against Nationals starting pitcher Tanner Roark, who fell apart in the fourth and fifth innings. Roark gave up nine hits and five earned runs, and reliever Aaron Barrett gave up the game-winning run in the eighth inning.
In Game Two on June 12, starter Jordan Zimmermann was knocked around for six runs and nine hits in only 3-1/3 innings pitched. It was his shortest start since April 13. Meanwhile, Brewers starting pitcher Mike Fiers threw seven effective innings as Milwaukee took an 8-4 win.
Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers Sunday, June 14, 2015, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Game Three on June 13 featured Nationals rookie pitcher Joe Ross (1-1), a newbie helping fill in for the injured Fister and Strasburg. Ross gave the Nationals possibly their best effort of the season, as he allowed just two runs over eight solid innings. His performance allowed Washington to rest its weary bullpen in a 7-2 victory. A pair of two-run homers by Yunel Escobar and Wilson Ramos did most of the damage offensively, along with two runs driven in by Bryce Harper, who was 3-for-3 at the plate. Harper left the game early, however, after being drilled in the knee by a 95-mph fastball in the ninth inning. The injury would sideline him for the following game.
Fortunately, the Nationals didn’t need Harper to win Game Four on June 14. Instead, it was the Max Scherzer show, as the ace pitcher put on a stellar performance. Scherzer was on fire, giving up just one hit and dealing 16 strikeouts in a 4-0 complete game shutout. Scherzer’s earned run average dropped to a minuscule 1.93 after his masterful showing. Clint Robinson led Washington with two RBI.
Next: Washington will take on the Tampa Rays in a four-game interleague series from June 15 through June 18. The first two games will take place in Washington, D.C., while the second two will take place in Tampa. The Nationals then return to Washington to host the Pittsburgh Pirates in a three-game series from June 19 to June 21.