Offense Awakens Too Late as Padres Fall to Nationals 8-5

Credit: AP Photo

Credit: AP Photo

Petco Park

The San Diego Padres put up a fight in the later innings in their game against the Washington Nationals, but the Nationals’ hitters got the jump on starter Tyson Ross in the sixth inning, and the Padres were unable to complete a comeback as they fell in Game 1 of the series 8-5. Let’s look at some takeaways from tonight’s game:

Tyson Ross falls apart

The tall right-hander had been having a pretty good day, matching Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg while only allowing one run, a home run by Trea Turner in the first inning. His slider was working, and he had been dealing for five innings. Then the sixth inning rolled around and Ross suddenly ran out off juice. After a leadoff walk to Turner, he would hang a slider to Anthony Rendon and watch as the latter ripped a double to left field to score the go-ahead run in Turner.

The Nationals were not done yet though, as another hanging slider would get hammered by Matt Adams and sent into the right field seats. To make matters worse for Ross, the next pitch was hit for a double by Howie Kendrick. The very next pitch, another Ross slider missed its location, this time to Matt Wieters as he slapped it to center field for the fourth Nationals run of the innings. Ross would eventually settle down and escape the inning, but the damage had already been done.

Ross was victimized by his poor location in the sixth inning, a shame considering he had only allowed two hits in the previous five innings and had been looking like the pitcher he was when he was an All-Star. The amount of pitches that he left up in the zone, however, is what truly did him in. He will look to rebound in his next start against the Cardinals.

Matt Strahm makes his Padres debut

Strahm came on in relief for Ross in the seventh inning to make his Padres debut and it was a rocky one to say the least. Strahm walked the first batter he saw and gave up a three-run home run to Adams, but still fought through the inning by getting Michael Taylor to ground out to Freddy Galvis.

He would get one more inning to pitch and would fire a scoreless inning, but he would need a lot of help from his defense. After walking Moises Sierra, Strahm would got a groundball hit directly to Chase Headley and the third baseman would go around the horn for a 5-4-3 double play. Travis Jankowski would make an excellent play on deep fly ball off the bat of Bryce Harper, leaping up to rob a potential home run that even Strahm had to tip his hat to. Strahm, coming off knee surgery, will be looking to build up arm strength and durability as he continues to work towards full strength.

Credit: Padres

Offense can’t mount a comeback

Back home at Petco Park, the Padres offense had no answers for Strasburg, who breezed through seven innings and fooled Padres hitters with his breaking pitches. The Padres only had one run on an RBI groundout by Franchy Cordero and were only able to break out of their funk in the later innings when they had already seen Strasburg a couple of times, with Manny Margot’s sixth inning triple being the first extra base hit of the night for the Friars. Carlos Asuaje would plate him with a fly ball to center field.

A leadoff double by Cordero brought hope, but he would only be able to score two outs later on a slap single to center field by Jose Pirela. Pirela had three hits on the night, while Margot and Jankowski were the only other Padres to collect multiple base hits, which is either a testimony to poor situational hitting or excellent Washington pitching.

Instead of submitting in the ninth inning, the Padres instead showed a little bit of life, working a leadoff walk and stringing some hits to make the game interesting. Runs by Raffy Lopez and Pirela made the game close, but Christian Villanueva would strike out swinging to end the inning and the game for San Diego, an unfortunate start to the series after taking the Monterrey series from the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Padres will send out Clayton Richard in Game 2 of the series while Jeremy Hellickson will toe the rubber for the Nationals.

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