The Good: AJ Cole. Usually four earned runs over seven innings is kinda meh, but in this case we’ll give the kid his props, coming up for the emergency start in place of an All-Star. He responded well, mixing a pretty neat little curveball in with a 92-93 mph sinker, a slurvy slider and a change he used sparingly against lefties. He kept (almost) everything down and limited the Orioles’ sluggers to two homers. That might not sound all that impressive, but they lead the stratosphere in round-trippers.
Earlier this season at AAA, Cole was getting pushed around and it appeared a move to the bullpen or out of the organization was likely. But he responded better when the weather heated up a bit and did not look overmatched on Monday night, giving hope that the once-heralded prospect might yet become a usable, functioning big leaguer someday.
Also: Trea Turner, catalyst (despite 3 Ks); Daniel Murphy, hit machine; a rare Danny Espinosa renaissance; Koda Glover.
The Bad: Bryce Harper and Wilson Ramos. Combined to go 0 for 6 with six stranded in the 4-5 spots in the order with nothing but warning track fly balls and double-play grounders (respectively) to show for it.
The Ugly: Stephen Strasburg. Certainly nothing to do with any on-field performance on Monday night, but the news his elbow is barking at him enough to shut him down for a while is not easy to take.
His last three starts (19 earned runs on 27 hits and six walks over just 11 2⁄3 innings) is testament to just how long it’s been affecting his performance. Up until three starts ago, Stras had a .194/.256/.309 line against. In those three starts: .414/.462/.776. Whoa. Hopefully he just needs a little rest and home cooking and he’ll be ready for the stretch drive.
Moment that mattered: Mark Trumbo’s mammoth home run. In the top of the fourth, Anthony Rendon homered to give the Nats a 2-1 lead. In the home half, Manny Machado and Chris Davis doubled on consecutive at-bats to tie it, then Cole made his only real mistake of the day, leaving a 92 mph four-seamer right over the plate, allowing the MLB home run leader to do what he does best — knock the crap out of it. Trumbo’s 38th homer of the year made it 4-2 and the Nats never caught up.