After former Washington Nationals' pitcher Miguel Batista was forced to make a spot start in Stephen Strasburg's place when the Nats' right-hander was scratched from a late July 2010 outing, Batista joked with reporters about the boos in Nationals Park when the change was announced. "Imagine, if you go there to see Miss Universe and you end up having Miss Iowa," Batista joked, "you might get those kind of boos." Strasburg returned to the rotation after missing that start, but the '09 no.1 overall pick suffered a tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow a few weeks later and was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery.
Tonight in the nation's capital, it was veteran righty Ross Ohlendorf in the role of Miss Iowa, filling in for Strasburg, who was a late scratch tonight with forearm tightness. Nationals' manager Davey Johnson was clear before the game that neither the team or its doctors thought there was any connection between the irritation the now-25-year-old Strasburg was experiencing now and the injury he suffered back in 2010. With all the drama about the right-hander's health, his innings limit and shutdown in the past few seasons, however, there was no stopping the speculation...
Ohlendorf got off to a rough start in the spot start tonight in the nation's capital, giving up a walk, a one-out single and and an RBI line drive to left by Carlos Ruiz in what ended up being a 31-pitch first, but the Nationals tied it up in the bottom of the inning with Nats' third baseman Ryan Zimmerman singling, taking second on a Jayson Werth walk and third on a Bryce Harper fly to right before scoring on a two-out infield hit by Ian Desmond.
1-1 after one in Washington.
Ross Ohlendorf needed just eight pitches to get through the second after the 31-pitch first, and two pitches into the bottom of the second inning, the Nats' starter had a 2-1 lead to work with after Wilson Ramos hit a 1-0 cutter from Kyle Kendrick into the left field bullpen. HR no.14 of 2013 for Ramos made it 2-1 Nationals after two. Ohlendorf's 12-pitch, 1-2-3 third had him up to 51 overall. Ryan Zimmerman fell behind 0-2 in the first at bat of the Nats' third, but got hold of an 0-2 sinker from Kyle Kendrick and hit his 24th home run of the year and his ninth in the last 11 games into the visitor's bullpen in left. 3-1 Nationals after three.
A one-out HBP and wild pitch put Darin Ruf on second in the Phillies' fourth and ended Ross Ohlendorf's streak of nine straight batters retired following Carlos Ruiz's RBI single in the first. A passed ball/ball four to Cody Asche put runners on first and third with one out, but Kevin Frandsen sent Ohlendorf's 14th pitch of the inning out to short where Ian Desmond started an inning-ending 6-4-3. 65 pitches in four for Ohlendorf. Steve Lombardozzi bunted his way on with one down, but he was doubled up when the Phillies' starter turned a 1-6-3 DP on a swinging bunt by Ohlendorf. 3-1 Nats after four.
Freddy Galvis was thinking double out of the box on a line drive to left in the top of the fifth, but Bryce Harper hustled into the corner to retrieve it and made a strong throw to second that arrived too late. Steve Lombardozzi stayed with the play, however, and applied the tag when Galvis' hand came off the bag. Outfield assist no.11 for Harper and out no.1 of the Phillies' fifth. Kyle Kendrick doubled and took third on a Cesar Hernandez single, but Jimmy Rollins popped up to Ryan Zimmerman in foul territory off third and Chase Utley lined out to Denard Span in center to end a 23-pitch inning that had Ohlendorf up to 88 pitches overall.
Ryan Zimmerman was 3 for 3 tonight after a leadoff single by third in the home-half of the fifth. Jayson Werth walked and Bryce Harper singled to load the bases with one down, and the second infield single of the night by Ian Desmond drove in the Nationals' fourth run, 4-1. One out later, with Kendrick out and the bases still loaded, Wilson Ramos hit a sharp grounder back up the middle that bounced off Phillies' reliever Luis Garcia's foot and went straight up in the air over the mound, allowing two runs to score to make it 6-1 in D.C.
• Ross Ohlendorf's Line: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 Ks, 88 P, 59 S, 4/2 GO/FO.
Bryce Harper collected his 12th outfield assist of the season and his second of the game on a fly ball to left by Carlos Ruiz in the first at bat of the sixth. The Phillies' catcher almost hit one out off Craig Stammen, but it bounced off the left field wall and right to Harper, who threw a strike to second where Lombardozzi again applied the tag. Cody Asche singled with two down, but Ryan Zimmerman cut a Kevin Frandsen grounder off on its way to short and threw to first for out no.3. 6-1 Nats after five and a half. Denard Span extended his hit streak to 24 games with a one-out opposite field single over short in his fourth at bat tonight, but two outs later he was stranded at first by Phillies' pitcher Zach Miner. Still 6-1 D.C.
Lefty reliever Fernando Abad threw a 10-pitch, 1-2-3 top of the seventh. Bryce Harper walked to start the Nationals' half of the inning, but he was stranded on the basepaths three outs later. Abad came back out for the eighth and retired the Phillies in order in a seven-pitch inning that had him up to just 17 in two scoreless innings of relief work. Phillies' lefty Joe Savery gave up a single by Steve Lombardozzi, but nothing else in a scoreless bottom of the eighth.
Drew Storen took the mound in the top of the ninth and got a fly to center from Darin Ruf with the first pitch he threw. Cody Asche lined to left for a one-out opposite field single and the Phillies' first hit since the sixth, but he was erased from the basepaths when Domonic Brown grounded into an inning-ending 4-6-3. Ballgame. Nationals win, 6-1 final.
Nationals now 78-69