BALTIMORE– The Washington Nationals went down to Atlanta on July 18 trying to make a dent in the Atlanta Braves’ 6 ½-game lead in the National League East.
But they could not quite do it.
Washington did win twice but also fell twice in the four-game series, meaning the team gained no ground. The Nationals started the series with a wild 13-4 victory over the Braves in the 18th inning, thanks to a home run and five RBIs from pitcher Stephen Strasburg.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, Strasburg became only fifth pitcher in the past 50 years to get two hits in an inning, including a homer. He singled, scored and later belted a three-run shot, both in the third inning.
Then, two innings later, Strasburg drove in two more with a single and finished the night 3-for-3 with five RBIs.
“That’s just how crazy this game is,” Strasburg said. “Obviously, my focus is going out there and trying to keep the other team at bay, but sometimes you just run into the ball. I’ve always been told that a swinging bat’s a dangerous one. So I was just able to connect on one.”
But the Braves won two of the next three game, including a 7-1 victory on July 21, where former Oriole Kevin Gausman struck out eight and gave up one run in seven innings to let Atlanta come away with a split. That left the Nationals 6 ½ games behind.
It will be interesting to see what kind of moves Washington plan to make any moves before the July 31 trading deadline. Will the Nationals go after a badly-needed relief pitcher to shore up their struggling bullpen? This week should give some answers.
Bayhawks fall in New York
Chesapeake Bayhawks was missing three All-Stars and struggled all night long as the New York Lizards handed the Bayhawks a 14-10 loss on July 20 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
The Bayhawks played without Steele Stanwick (personal commitment), Isaiah Davis-Allen (hamstring injury) and Brendan Bomberry (unavailable). That made it tougher for the Bayhawks to stop New York all night.
“We gave up the most six-on-six goals we’ve given up all year,” Coach Dave Cottle said. “They won the match-ups. They got most of their opportunities by beating us from behind the goal, either off a pick or a dodge.”
Colin Heacock scored three goals to pace Chesapeake. Lyle Thompson, the top scorer in Major League Lacrosse before this contest, got held to two goals and one assist for a season-low three points.
The loss dropped Chesapeake to 4-3 this season.
Orioles Split With Nats, Take Two Of Three From Boston
The Baltimore Orioles, despite basically being left with one semi-proven starting pitcher, played well and went 3-2 versus Washington and Boston this past week.
The Orioles split two games with the Nationals, taking a 9-2 victory in the second game of that series after Washington routed them (8-1) in the opener. After that, Baltimore took two of three from a struggling Boston team that hasn’t been able to find its way this season.
Anthony Santander’s three-run homer in the first inning was the big blow in an 11-2 victory on July 19.
The Red Sox rebounded for a 17-6 victory the following day. Baltimore Manager Brandon Hyde even used infielder/outfielder Stevie Wilkerson to pitch the final two innings. Wilkerson, using only curveballs around 60 mph, gave up one run on one hit and gave the bullpen a break.
Asher Wojciechowski helped even more in the series finale on July 21. The journeyman right-hander earned his first win since 2017 by taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning as Baltimore scored a 5-0 victory.
Wojciechowski allowed one hit in 7 ⅓ innings. He struck out 10 – nine in the first four innings, often on a nasty slider – and Boston finished the game with a season-low one hit.
“That was the best outing I’ve ever had in the big leagues,” Wojciechowski said. “It’s something to enjoy, also to look back, build upon and look at as a springboard.”