Force is with the Diamondbacks

It was Obi Sean Kenobi bobblehead day at Nationals stadium. The first 10,000 fans received Sean Doolittle bobbleheads. They also promoted a Star Wars theme with the Nat pack all dressed in Star Wars characters. But the force was with the Diamondbacks. They blasted five homeruns in their 10-3 drubbing of the Nationals and ensured at least a split of this series.

It did not start off well for Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals. Ketel Marte deposited the first pitch from Strasburg into the Nationals bullpen in right field. Before the shock could wear off two outs later Adam Jones belted a pitch just over the left field wall. Juan Soto attempted a leap to catch the ball but the wall was too high.

The Nationals did come to life in the bottom of the first. Trea Turner bounced the first pitch he saw into the left field corner. When left fielder David Peralta fell trying to retrieve the ball Turner hustled to third for a triple. He scored on a fly ball to center by Adam Eaton. With two outs the Nationals created some fireworks of their own with back to back homeruns from Juan Soto and Matt Adams. Adams shot went over the right field bullpen into the second deck.

It did not take long for the Diamondbacks to respond. In the top of the second Christian Walker led off the inning with a blast into the centerfield bleachers. Nick Ahmed hit a ball into the left centerfield gap. Soto stabbed at the ball but it hit the fence and bounced past Soto, rolling along the left field warning track. By the time Eaton retrieved the ball Ahmed was standing on third with a triple. A Carson Kelly single put the Diamondbacks up 4-3.

Taylor Clarke was not sharp but after the first inning he bent but he did not break. He did not last the requisite five innings to get the win, falling one out shy. The Nationals could only muster four more hits off him.

The Diamondbacks continued to have their way with Strasburg. In the third Strasburg was able to retire the first two hitters. Eduardo Escobar and Christian Walker followed with singles. Nick Ahmed slashed a pitch into the hole. Turner dove for the ball it but it tipped off his glove. The ball rolled into left field while Ahmed could glide into second with a double, the Diamondbacks tacking on another run for a 5-3 lead.

Ketel Marte went deep again off Strasburg to lead off the fifth. Strasburg was able to retire the next six hitters in a row but the damage prior to that was too great. Down 6-3 the Nationals bats went quiet with just three hits off the Diamondbacks pen.

The Nationals pen was not as stingy. They have been failing much of the year and they failed again today to keep this game close. Javy Guerra pitched two shutout innings. In the eighth Kyle Barraclough gave up a two run homer to Kevin Cron. He failed to find the strike zone after that, walking the next two hitters. Tony Sipp came on to replace him to try to get the last out but gave up an RBI single to David Peralta to ante up the score to 9-3.

The Nationals have their unique specialty reliever. Instead of using a position player to pitch in a blow out game, the Nationals turn to Trevor Rosenthal. He brought his 21.60 ERA to the mound, walked the first two hitters, coughed up a single to Nick Ahmed and gave up an SF to Nick Ahmed to put the Diamondbacks in double digits. He was able to get Kevin Cron to hit the ball hard to the shortstop that was turned into a double play, lowering his 21.60 ERA to 19.50.

Game Notes: Not too much to get excited about in this loss. Davey Martinez has a couple arms he can trust in Tanner Rainey and Sean Doolittle. Most of the arms he can not trust. The Nationals bullpen from those arms can turn close games into blowouts…There were 38,044 at the game for the bobblehead day, enough to call the game a sellout. This was not the performance the Nationals wanted to put on the field to get the fans returning to the park…Stephen Strasburg had a little talk with the umpire when the top of the fourth inning ended. Davey Martinez joined in the discussion…The score could have been worse, but with runners on third and second and one out in the eighth Sipp was able to get a double play ground out. Adam Jones hit a ground ball to Anthony Rendon. He threw home to tie up Ildemaro Vargas, who was tagged out trying to return to third. Rendon then threw to second where he got Peralta wandering too far off second base. Peralta was tagged out to end the inning…The last time Strasburg gave up 9 hits in a game was back in 2016, 65 starts ago…The Nationals came into this series hot. Unfortunately, the Diamondbacks are also hot. The Diamondbacks have won eight of their last 10 games to get closer to the wild card hunt. The Nationals can put together winning streaks against teams playing below .500, but have trouble finding victories against teams who are above them in the standings. They fall further from the wild card position…The Nationals are now 16-17 at home. The only team that has a losing streak at home are the Diamondbacks. They are 24-18 on the road while the Nationals are 16-21.

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