When the Cincinnati Reds arrived in the nation’s capital, it looked as if the only Washington Nationals pitcher to fear was the man pitching Game 3.
That would be 14-game winner Stephen Strasburg.
In Game 1 and Game 2 they would face a couple of no-names, Erick Fedde and Joe Ross. Who and who?
What do they say about the best laid plans of managers and men?
After losing Tuesday night, 3-1, to the Washington Nationals, the Reds now face the staggering prospect of trying to avoid a three-game sweep against Strasburg.
They could do nothing on Monday against Fedde and nothing against Ross on Tuesday, despite his 6.75 earned run average.
Ross held the Reds to one run and five hits over 6 2/3 innings. And the Reds killed every insect on the Nationals Park infield grass, making 12 outs on ground balls.
Reds starter Alex Wood gave up three runs in the first four innings, including a pair of solo home runs in the fourth by Juan Soto and Brian Dozier. Neither of those two started Monday’s game, a 7-6 Nationals victory.
The Nationals scored their first run in the first inning in unusual fashion. With one out and runners on third and first, Juan Soto grounded one to first base.
Votto stepped on first for the second out, but it eliminated the force at second. He threw to second to get the third out, but the man on third, Victor Robles, crossed home plate before the tag was applied at second. So the run counted.
The Reds scored their only run in the seventh and did it with two outs and nobody on. Nick Senzel doubled and Jose Iglesias singled him home to make it 3-1.
The Reds had innumberable opportunities to score, but were 2 for 11 with runners in scoring position and only one of those hits produced a run.
—Jesse Winker led off the fourth with a double and remained anchored at second when Joey Votto struck out and both Eugenio Suarez and Aristides Aquino flied out.
—Pinch-hitter Jose Peraza walked for the first time in 145 plate appearances with one out in the sixth. Winker singled to right center and Peraza tried to take third. Center fielder Victor Robles, owner of one of the best arms in baseball, threw him out.
It was Robles who threw out Joey Votto on Monday night when he tried to score from second on a shallow single.
Even after Peraza was erased at third, Votto walked to put runners on second and first with two outs. Suarez grounded out.
—A possible fairy tale surfaced in the eighth. With two outs and nobody on, Votto and Suarez singled. That brought up Aquino, the man with eight home runs in his 11 games this season. Could he? Would he? Nope. He popped up to third base on the first pitch.
—And then there was ninth and the Nationals bullpen has been a mess all season, blowing save after save.
Daniel Hudson was on the mound and Josh VanMeter ripped his first pitch for a double. Nick Senzel flied out and Jose Iglesias struck out.
Freddy Galvis made his first appearance in a Reds uniform after he was claimed off waivers this week. He was pinch-hitting and poked a first-pitch single to left.
So the Reds had runners on first and third, the potential tying runs, with Tucker Barnhart at bat. He battled Hudson for nine pitches before striking out on a low, inside pitch in the dirt and it was over.
And now, reeling under a three-game losing streak, the Reds face Strasburg on Wednesday afternoon.
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