Wilson Ramos lined the 0-1 slider Bronson Arroyo threw him to center field in Chase Field in the top of the second inning of the Washington Nationals' second game in Arizona. The Nats' catcher scored in the next at bat when Ian Desmond hit an 87 mph 0-1 sinker to the right-center gap for an RBI triple. Most of the other 108 pitches Arroyo threw Tuesday night went where the 37-year-old, 15-year veteran wanted them to go.
The Nationals' second-inning run was the only one they scored over the nine innings Arroyo was on the mound in what ended up being a 3-1 loss to the Diamondbacks.
The Nationals' stranded Ian Desmond at third three outs after his triple in the second.
Nine of the Nats' next ten hitters went down to Arroyo after Desmond's run-scoring hit, and the D-Backs rallied to tie the game when Paul Goldschmidt doubled past first and just fair to start the bottom of the fourth and scored on Miguel Montero's RBI single to center.
The Nationals threatened in the fifth.
Tyler Moore and Kevin Frandsen reached base on a pop fly to right and bunt single, respectively, with Moore taking third on a throwing error by D-Backs' third baseman Martin Prado on Frandsen's infield hit.
Stephen Strasburg tried to get a bunt down with runners on the corners in the next AB, but sent one back toward the mound, settling for moving Frandsen into scoring position for Denard Span, who struck out to end the inning.
"That is a safety squeeze," Nationals' manager Matt Williams told reporters after the Nats' 19th loss in 39 games.
"But we have to read that. We're not going to run into an out. So if [Strasburg] lays down a good bunt to the first base side, Tyler is going to break from third there. Worst-case scenario, you've got guys on second and third and Denard coming to the plate, but the ball was bunted right back to Arroyo, so there was no chance for Tyler to score."
"You want to take advantage of those opportunities," Williams said. "Didn't happen for us tonight. There's something to be said for the guy on the mound for the opposing team. He knows what to do to get out of innings."
A half-inning after the Nationals' second wasted opportunity, Paul Goldschmidt drove in two runs with a double to center when Strasburg left a 2-2 curve up in the zone.
"Paul Goldschmidt gets paid to do what he did," Williams said. "It's just a hanging curve ball that got left up in the zone. It happens. He's a good hitter, against a good pitcher."
"Curveball," Strasburg said. "It started getting a little windy and dry and stuff, and it just spun out of my hand, so as soon as it came out I knew it probably wasn't going to be good."
"I hung it. It didn't break."
The line on Stephen Strasburg, as Nate McLouth pinch hits for him in the 8th: 7 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 6 K. 98 pitches, 68 strikes.— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) May 14, 2014
Williams said that more than the pitch to Goldschmidt, it was the singles Strasburg allowed before the slugger came up, one of them by Bronson Arroyo, who was 2 for 3 in the win, that hurt the Nationals' starter.
"That particular inning, gave up a hit to the pitcher," Willliams said, "which kind of led to it, but overall, I thought he pitched fine."
"Bronson was better tonight though, all over the zone with all the pitches that he had and kept everybody off-balance."
Strasburg limited the damage to three runs in his seven innings of work.
"The biggest thing is keep it close," he said. "Keep us within one or two runs. And I feel like I threw a lot of strikes tonight. Arroyo just pitched better."
Strasburg put together a strong outing of his own, and felt good on the mound in Arizona.
"I'm feeling more comfortable commanding all my pitches and getting ahead of guys, and not making as many mistakes."
D-Backs' skipper Kirk Gibson was impressed with the Nationals' starter.
"Strasburg's got good stuff, boy," he told reporters. "Came out firing. Seven pitches in the first inning. And he was rolling. We put some good at bats on him. We got the two [hits] back-to-back. [Goldschmidt] got the double. Miggy got the single. And Goldie had the big hit for us."
"They put the bat on the ball," Strasburg said. "It's just baseball. I think just one bad pitch to Goldschmidt. I thought I made a good pitch in his previous at bat and he hits it right on the chalk line down the first base line, so it happens. But just have to go out there and keep battling and keep it close, so that's all I can do."
The Nationals' loss sets up a rubber match today in the 3:40 pm EDT series finale in Arizona.