I don’t usually pay much attention to the National League. It’s not because I don’t want to, it’s for lack of time. Keeping track of one team is hard enough, especially when they’re battling injuries and making (what seems to be) constant roster moves. But I knew the Nationals had something special in Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper. You can’t be a baseball fan and not know that! I just didn’t know how special until last night.
The Red Sox got on the board first in the 2nd inning when David Ortiz walked, Ryan Sweeney singled and Mike Aviles doubled, scoring both baserunners. Sox up 2-0. This lead would last all of about 8.7 seconds.
Felix Doubront had probably his worst outing of the season so far. He didn’t look sharp and when he gave up a deep double to the first batter of the game, I immediately got a not-so-good feeling in my gut. I was right. Doubront lasted only four innings, giving up eight hits and six runs for his third loss of the season.
After scoring two runs in the second, the Sox were held scoreless by a locked in Strasburg. He was impressive. The 23-year-old righty threw 119 pitches in his six innings, allowing just two runs on four hits. He struck out 13 Sox batters, fanning Daniel Nava and Kevin Youkilis both three times.
The Nationals came back with three runs in the third and another three in the fourth against Doubront. Teen sensation, Bryce Harper, hit a two-run homerun becoming only the fourth teenager to ever hit a home run at Fenway Park, and the second youngest. Only Robin Yount was younger. Harper finished the night just a triple shy of the cycle.
And as if to add insult to injury, Strasburg struck out the side in the bottom of the fourth. The Sox mounted a comeback in the sixth as Strasburg was nearing the end of his outing. They managed to load the baases when Dustin Pedroia singled, Adrian Gonzalez doubled and David Ortiz walked. Jarrod Saltalamacchia struck out and Youkilis came up with two outs. He worked the count full only to be called out on a questionable third strike. It looked low to me and evidently to Youk too. He immediately blew a gasket and was quickly bounced from the game. That stupid Amica pitch zone said it was a strike, I don’t buy it.
The Red Sox managed only two more runs after Strasburg was lifted. Adrian Gonzalez hit a home run in the eigth after being robbed by Xavier Nady of one in the third inning. And Daniel Nava, happy to see the starter gone, hit an RBI double in the bottom of the ninth. Just a too little, too late…
With that loss, the Red Sox say hello again to .500 and spend yet another day in the AL East basement. Click on over to here for the box score, courtesy of the Red Sox. Daisuke Matsuzaka makes his first start in over a year today against these tough Nats. He’ll face off against Gio Gonzalez (7-2, 2.31 ERA), game time is 4:05pm.